TOA Founder Surfaces With Promising Fintech Venture

Yuval Brisker, the entrepreneur who founded, grew and eventually sold TOA Technologies to Oracle Corp. in what’s believed to be one of the largest venture-backed exits an Ohio company has ever drawn, has just launched a fintech startup he bills as a third-generation payment system.

Brisker and cofounder Pedro Silva officially launched Mezu, whose name is derived from part of the Hebrew word for money, from its Cleveland headquarters on June 13. It’s backed by $10 million from investors.

The app is designed to foster peer-to-peer financial transactions without sharing any personal information. The inspiration for the platform came to Brisker while he was traveling the world.

“I realized there is no solution for the problem of cash,” Brisker said. “There are payment apps to pay people I know, but it’s a different setup than going to London or San Francisco and wanting to pay my valet or leave a tip on the table at the hotel.”

The app could allow someone to tip a bartender, pay a vendor at a local farmers market or even donate to a nonprofit without sharing the kind of information a service like Venmo requires, which creates what amounts to a virtual check.

There’s also a social component to Venmo that effectively identifies people — something that has led to what’s known as digital stalking, which Mezu vice president of marketing Amy Martin once experienced personally after using Venmo to buy a pizza and getting friended on social media by the delivery person.

Mezu emphasizes its focus on privacy and how that promotes safety in a world of digital stalking.

But it also touts its ability to serve the underbanked. Mezu — citing numbers from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. indicating that more than 9 million Americans don’t currently have a bank account — says it will allow users to get paid and securely store money in an FDIC-insured account.

Read the full story at Crain’s Cleveland Business.