Eco Inc., the crypto payments company behind self-custody wallet Beam, today announced its acquisition of Join, a shopping app that allows users to make purchases with stablecoins at major merchants like Amazon and Shopify.
From a joint interface, users can now spend their Beam wallet balance directly on in-app purchases. After entering their shipping details, shoppers paste in a product link, fill out any product specifications, and hit order.
Eco, an a16z-backed startup that’s raised $95 million in funding, launched Beam last year. The wallet allows peer-to-peer global payments and has amassed approximately 80,000 users. Eco declined to disclose what it paid for Join.
“We were thinking about what we can do to make it a more compelling, whole financial experience,” Beam CEO Andy Bromberg told Fortune. After seeing tweets about Join’s vision of creating a seamless online shopping experience for stablecoins users, Bromberg reached out to CEO and cofounder Tom Dean. “He blew me away,” Bromberg said of the 20-year-old.
“We built Join to enable frictionless spending of stablecoins, and integrating directly into Beam propels this vision even further,” Dean said.
And if users hold various stablecoins across multiple networks, the app will abstract this. “It routes all of that intelligently,” Bromberg added.
Eco’s vision for Beam
Unlike custodial products like Venmo or Coinbase, Bromberg said he wants to make ledger technology more accessible.
Bromberg sees Beam as a user-friendly materialization of crypto’s decentralized promise—the very idea that drew him to crypto, first joining the Stanford Bitcoin Group in 2012 as a math student.
Technological advances in the Etherum ecosystem over the past year are allowing mainstream users to access the benefits of noncustodial wallets for the first time, he says. “The technology’s there—let’s go get it,” Bromberg said. “Payments on-chain are possible now.”
Descending from the rural northern England, Dean said he was inspired to start Join due to his experiences of being unable to receive payment for his various online side hustles as a kid.
Growing up, he moved around a lot, meaning he lacked a consistent address, and resultantly was denied from opening a bank account. To bypass this, he’d be paid in Bitcoin. It was the early days of the currency when withdrawals were complicated, so he’d pay an anonymous individual overseas to make online purchases on his behalf and ship him the goods. “That was not the safe idea,” he admits now, but it made him think about payment systems outside of traditional finance.
“But it laid the same concept,” he said. “People will send us their tokens and we will order things for them.”
While the app is currently compatible with Amazon and Shopify, due to its drop-ship model, the founders are eyeing expansion. “You just have to learn how the checkout flow works,” Dean said.