Scenes from SXSW: From a giant buffalo to a tech-friendly tiny home

Competing with a marijuana app

The team of Richardson-based financial technology startup ModoPayments knew it had a challenge on its hands Sunday. 

“For crying out loud, we’re right next to a weed company,” said Scott Gamble, Modo’s head of marketing.

The startup is one of five “New Economy” finalists in the SXSW Interactive Innovations Awards. Unlike the other contenders, however, Modo’s clients are large financial companies like banks. Its behind-the-scenes work of connecting old and new payment systems, such as a bank with a mobile wallet like PayPal, can be a complicated process to explain.  And as Gamble acknowledged, Modo may not have the splash of its booth neighbor, Tokken. The Denver-based startup processes cashless cannabis purchases.

ModoPayments is competing in the "New Economy" category for the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards.(Melissa Repko/The Dallas Morning News)
ModoPayments is competing in the “New Economy” category for the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards.
(Melissa Repko/The Dallas Morning News)

To impress the judges and conference attendee, Modo used a simpler way to show how its payment plumber role turns into tangible value for customers. They did a demonstration of how loyalty points from a bank or credit card could be transferred, shared through PayPal and then converted into a Starbucks gift card. Then, they gave attendees a bar code that could be photographed and used to for $5 toward a latte or frappuccino.

Winners will be announced Tuesday night.

Read the full article by Melissa Repko from The Dallas Morning News here.

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