Birmingham Science Park Aston-based Droplet’s city-wide trial of its mobile money app that digitises cash has already attracted over 1,000 users.
Hailed by TechCrunch’s influential European Editor Mike Butcher on Twitter as ‘one of the most exciting start-ups of the year’, significant numbers of new users and merchants across Birmingham are required to ensure rapid scalability.
Available on iOS, the Droplet app lets people load money onto their iPhones and send payments to anyone – including participating retailers – for free. Crucially, it is also completely fee-free for the merchants.
Registered users can top-up their Droplet account whilst on the move, and keep complete track of day-to-day expenditure. With over 1,000 active users, the average top up value is currently £17.89. Over 50 merchants are already signed up across the city, with some of the most popular Droplet outlets being independent food stations and coffee shops.
Serial entrepreneur Steffan Aquarone, co-founder of Droplet said: “Birmingham is a vibrant economic city, as well as our home. We have put all of our eggs in one basket by focusing on a concentrated trial – limited to Birmingham – and the strategy is paying off. Our existing contacts base has helped with signing up the first wave of merchants. Because Droplet is completely fee-free, the merchants have been more than happy to promote the app to their customers.
“Due to the fees incurred, many independent retailers stipulate a £5 minimum spend for credit card and debit card transactions, which is where Droplet is so effective. There is no minimum spend and a transaction is so much quicker to process than paying with a card, or even cash. However, what is interesting to see is that since the trial of Droplet commenced six weeks ago, the average payment amount has risen quite significantly. Last week, the average payment by Droplet users to merchants was £10.68, compared to £5.66 and £5.60 in weeks one and two.
“Birmingham people are voting with their feet and are happy to spend with the Droplet app time and time again. The city is rapidly adopting it as its first choice payment method, because using Droplet on your mobile is a simple pleasure; it digitises cash.”
Droplet entered the finance market because the world of mobile payments was clumsy and tiresome. Many innovations in consumer finance are solutions looking for problems; Droplet solves a problem, that of expensive fees for merchants and the inconvenience people face when they can’t send money to their friends easily, or don’t have cash to hand.
Prior to the beta launch, Droplet’s nine-strong team – including the former brand director for Visa Europe – spent a year ensuring the platform was extremely secure, with all the features in place that would be expected from a global online bank. Once the simple sign-up process has been completed, Droplet requires only basic contact details to process a peer-to-peer transaction, whereas payments to retailers can be made by scanning a barcode at the till point. iPhone location services also enable the Droplet app to suggest which retailer you may be looking to pay, ensuring the transaction can be processed within seconds.
Merchants already taking payments via Droplet include; Brewsmiths; Bodega Restaurant; Café Resource at Birmingham Science Park, Centenary Lounge at Moor Street and Snow Hill Stations; Loki Wines in the Great Western Arcade; Urban Coffee Company at its Church Street and Jewellery Quarter branches; and Yorks Bakery Café on Newhall Street.
Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Birmingham Science Park said: “To have Europe’s most influential tech editor hail Droplet as ‘one of the most exciting start-ups of the year’ is tremendous recognition for the formidable Droplet team, as well as the rapidly expanding tech community here at Birmingham Science Park.
“While there continues to be so much Government and media focus on London’s Tech City, Droplet provides an excellent exemplar of what the tech entrepreneurs here in Birmingham are creating; new businesses and jobs for local people, based on highly innovative concepts. Several start-ups located in our Entrepreneurs for the Future centre have received equity finance this year, enabling them to develop their concepts, establish international brand recognition and become sustainable, income generating businesses. The growth of the tech start-up community in Birmingham is vital to the health of the city’s economy and needs much more support and access to finance. Droplet also demonstrates how tech can support and enhance Birmingham’s wider business community.”
In addition to Steffan Aquarone, Droplet’s founders consist of technology entrepreneur and innovation consultant Will Grant, mobile product specialist Andy Smart and experienced business operations director David Roberts.
Droplet is based at Birmingham Science Park’s Entrepreneurs for the Future Centre (e4f), which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. E4f is unique to Birmingham and is specifically designed to harness and support the city’s burgeoning tech community.
Since launching in November 2009, e4f has created 128 new employees and directors. To be enrolled, entrepreneurs must pitch their idea, with a view to becoming a registered Ltd company. Applications are welcomed from start-ups operating in the digital media, ICT, med tech or clean tech sectors.
Merchants can register to receive mobile money payments on https://dropletpay.com
To apply for Entrepreneurs for the Future, visit www.e4f.co.uk