In 2007 we helped found a company called Zetawire to develop a digital wallet for making secure payments online. Our roll was to design the user interface and work on the patent and a range of conceptual refinements. The market leaders at the time had clunky text-based systems that were vulnerable to fraud. We believed that secure systems with graphic user interfaces would eventually control the market. Even though the iPhone had only just been introduced and there was not yet even an App Store, we believed that smart phones would be the market for digital wallets. Silicon Valley insiders who saw our early work told us “mobile payments are too hard -- too many operating systems, too many browsers, too expensive to implement.”
Patent protection was the key to getting anyone interested in our system so we developed a comprehensive patent application and applied for worldwide protection. To do this we drew on the experience gained in our 11 previous patent applications for technologies ranging from geothermal superconductors to hydrogen fueling systems.
After developing proof-of-concept software and applying for worldwide patent protection we spent a year demonstrating the software to every major investor, venture capital firm and potential customer we could find in Silicon Valley. Everyone loved it but no one invested because “mobile payments were too hard”. Then Google bought us.
Our system and company were acquired by Google. Later Google unveiled Google Wallet with many of the same components. It turned out that online payments were not too hard -- we were just ahead of the market with what turned out to be a better idea.