Clinkle, the $25 Million Mystery App, Reveals Technology in PatentsS

The 22-year-old with more millions than years on Earth is on a roll: Lucas Duplan now has a grey-haired Netflix exec working under him, and the support of big-time investors. The company still wont say a word about what it actually does—but its patent applications don't need permission to talk.

Clinkle, the $25 Million Mystery App, Reveals Technology in PatentsS

The patents, filed last year and just published this month, describe a "Wireless transaction communication apparatus and method." Exactly like we'd been told before, Clinkle is yet another payment app for your smartphone—only this time, it transmits data as ultrasonic bursts, rather than, say, over Wi-Fi:


Today, mobile devices span a wide range of hardware capabilities, and existing methods for achieving real-time communication between mobile devices have generally relied on specialized hardware. This hardware is not available on all mobile devices, and it may be incompatible with certain mobile devices.

As an example, near field communication (NFC) is a technology that allows for contact-range point-to-point transmission of data. NFC, however, requires hardware that is not found in traditional mobile devices. In addition, NFC is generally not usable outside of a range of around four centimeters. There can, therefore, be drawbacks with NFC...A need, therefore, exists for a more flexible real-time communication apparatus and method.

Clinkle wants to be that "more flexible" method. It's still unclear why anyone who isn't already paying for things with their phone—say, with Venmo, which works great—will want to use this. It's also unclear how Clinkle plans to compete with large, established mobile payment operations like Square. It's also unclear how much Clinkle's technology differs from this 2010 patent for sound-based mobile payment. It's unclear because Clinkle won't tell anyone anything, about anything.