Mobile payments are rapidly becoming a mature market, with several major banks and tech companies seeking to grab a share of the pie.

New startup Tipit is bravely taking on the finance giants, focusing specifically on a niche part of the payments market – tipping.

I spoke to founder Renate Kalnina to find out more...

In one sentence, what is your product/service?

Tipit is the only mobile service that lets you send and/or receive tips directly to and from a bank account.

What problem(s) does it solve?

This solution will:

  1. Provide an opportunity to receive a tip when clients don’t have cash (in emerging cashless societies those working individuals who heavily rely on tips increasingly face reduced cash flows).
  2. Allow businesses to ‘sign off’ tips as a business expense thus contributing more to the tips and generating more income for waiters.
  3. Enable waiting staff to declare this as an official income to acquire mortgage, bank loan or other credit.
  4. Turn a shadow economy (cash-in-hand) into more formal and controlled environment. 

What are your immediate goals?

One of the most important things is to complete the developments that will integrate a secure payment gateway. 

This would prepare us for the initial UK launch this summer. We aim to be fully functioning and established in the UK within the next 12 months.

Another immediate goal is to secure funding to support the trial and further developments as well as promotion.

Thus we are launching the crowd-funding campaign and seeking other funding streams. 

What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or your team?

The biggest challenge so far has not been related to tech or the team but, as for most startups, capital acquisition. 

I’ve been supporting the startup with the internal resources and have had great help from the technical lead, Lee, who has taken on the build and development in return for equity. 

However, to roll it out and acquire a critical mass we still have to secure the extra cash. 

Lee and I have known each other for at least six years thus the mutual trust and working process is very well established. 

How will the company make money?

Tipit will take a small percentage from each tip. The exact amount will be worked out based on the bank charges and third-party charges (secure payment gateway).

Who is in your team?

The core team is small but very knowledgeable and experienced in the digital/technology industry. 

I’m the founder and am overseeing project delivery, partnerships, campaign execution and funding acquisition.  

Lee Hazlehurst is our technical lead, and Cleo Flelding and Dan Morris are supporting the Tipit crowd-funding campaign. 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

In one year we would like to be fully operational within the UK. Also the aim is to introduce Tipit to the US within the next 12 months. 

In three years we would like to be fully operational in the US, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Austria and other European countries where tipping culture is established and/or growing.

In five years the ambition is to be a global tipping service. 

Other than your own, what are your favorite websites/apps/tools?

For me Whatsapp is great for instant cross-border communications since I have a large international contact base.

Also, I am a big fan of Econsultancy and have been following the company for many years. 

For the others in the Tipit team:

  • Lee: "As a developer rather than user I quite like 'Inbox' by Gmail at the moment."
  • Cleo: "My favourites are Airbnb and Myfitnesspal."
  • Dan: "Definitely Nike Football app; excellent for anyone with an interest in football."
David Moth

Published 26 March, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Their daunting implementation problems are regulatory, compliance and integrating with payment gateways. Their big marketing problem, as always with these social businesses, is how to gain critical mass. And the elephant in the room is that many low paid people *like* cash, because even slightly more declared income can mean they lose benefits.

over 3 years ago

Renate Kalnina

Renate Kalnina, Managing Director at it's digital, Baby!

Hi Pete,
Thanks for your comments, all valid points. PCI compliant payment gateway integration can be a daunting experience thus we are working with trusted partners to handle this. Critical mass of course if THE most important aspect for these things to pick up but we are in early stages (not even launched yet) and interest is huge, next step is to identify the best partners for the trial. The last point is only focussed on the short-term trends, country move towards cashless societies is significant and fast, Tipit is targeting this issue by giving an alternative channel to give/ get 'cash'. Statistically only 1 in 5 Brits are carrying cash with them. Also, declared income means you are entitled for loans, credits, etc.. The answer I give when asked this is : 'Would you rather give 20%-30% on something then 0% on nothing? '

over 3 years ago

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