The Piryx pitch I head in advance of DemoFall 09 may be over-reaching--the founder sees it as a competitor to PayPal--but the service itself appears solid and useful. Piryx is a payment processing system designed primarily for causes and campaigns. If you're collecting money for a political candidate, for your school's band instrument fund, or something along those lines, Piryx lets you easily set up a page to collect money from people who want to contribute and track the messages you're sending out to people via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and so on.
It's a simple and attractive system, and in that it makes collecting money easier than putting up a PayPal link, it is a functional competitor. But Piryx is not a completely new payment system. Piryx charges credit cards and hooks into checking accounts. Then, like a typical credit card processing system, it deposits funds in its users' merchant accounts. It takes a significant percentage of funds collected: 4.5 percent on the high end, down to 4 percent as the money increases. (PayPal charges less.)
Piryx is ambitious in its architecture. The platform is open to new applications, and users pick these apps depending on their needs. For example, there's a compliance app that makes sure you're collecting funds in accordance with campaign contribution laws, if that's important to your program.
Piryx could work as a general-purpose storefront for selling an item or two, and it's good for that since it tracks which sites and blogs are generating the most traffic and income. But it was designed originally to help political campaigns raise funds and it's strongest when used for that purpose.