However one UK startup is hoping to steal a march on its competitors with a new mobile app that allows users to transfer money and make payments for free.
Droplet has already achieved success among merchants and consumers in Birmingham and now aims to take its service nationwide.
To find out more, I spoke to CTO and co-founder Will Grant…
In one sentence, what is Droplet?
Droplet is a mobile money app that lets you load cash onto your phone and send payments to anyone, for free.
What problems does Droplet solve?
For our merchants, Droplet makes taking secure, cashless payments fee-free. This saves small and large merchants thousands of pounds a year.
These benefits mean that our merchants can pass on savings to customers who pay with Droplet – as well as offer unique promotions and loyalty.
For users, there’s the savings of course – as well as the basics: no need to carry cash, or worry about the dreaded ‘five pound minimum spend’ in small shops.
Our new versions in 2013 will offer advanced discovery: letting users find new merchants and deals – as well as more custom features: for example, the app will know you’re paying a car park and let you set parking duration and enter your car’s reg number, all seamlessly within the Droplet app.
When and why did you launch it?
We launched on October 1 as a beta trial in Birmingham only. In the months since then we’ve added merchants (up to 60 now) as well as thousands of users.
We started this venture because we believe the world of payment, banking and finance is ripe for disruption – and that we can apply the power and freedom of the web to make money more equitable.
In the same way that Skype and VOIP made it harder for telecoms companies to price international calls at a premium – by routing transactions over the web (encrypted of course), we expose a truth that the payment industry doesn’t want to face up to: that moving money is free.
How are you funding the company?
We started out founder-funded, while we worked other jobs to pay the bills. We’ve since taken on investment in a seed round to fund our beta and we’re currently in fundraising mode for the finance we need to roll out nationally
Who is your target audience?
This is a fun question: if we’re true to our goals to re-invent payment, then our audience has to be everyone. This is why we’re launching an Android app soon, and eventually web versions so that everyone can take part – not just iPhone owners.
What are your immediate goals?
We’ve successfully trialled Droplet in one city (Birmingham) and now we’re looking to roll it out nationwide.
What were the biggest challenges involved in building Droplet?
Technology: the security challenges are huge, and we have full-time security-focused engineers. We took 12 months of whole-team effort to build bank-grade security into the platform.
Dealing with the existing card and banking infrastructure was painful – but that’s exactly why we’re here and really reaffirms that we’re doing useful work by making the whole thing simpler.
How will the company make money?
Our core service of sending payments will always be free to both users and merchants. Over time we plan to offer value-added services for merchants that let them understand their customers better, offer loyalty and rewards – as well as customise the experience for users.
Who is in the team and what does it look like?
The team page on our site is way more detailed than an answer I could write.
Where would you like to be in one, three and five year’s time?
In one year we’d like to have taken Droplet nationwide, helping users simplify the way they pay for things.
In three years we aim to be Europe-wide, adding the ability to allow other services to use us as a ‘backbone’ for payments.
And in five years we plan to be a global company, changing the way the world uses money.
Will Grant will be running workshops on app development for marketers at Econsultancy London, with the first taking place in May. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.