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Droplet launches m-payments app in London

By Retail Technology | Monday March 18 2013

Following trials, a new UK-based company aims to herald a ‘capital’ payments revolution with its new mobile app

After a successful Beta trial in Britain’s second city, homegrown mobile payments platform Droplet is celebrating its London launch with an event at the Apple store in Regent Street, later this week (20 March).

Droplet is a mobile payments app that lets users load money onto their smartphone and send payments for free. Some 60 merchants in Birmingham signed up within weeks attracted by its ‘no transactional fees’ pledge when it was initially called Settle (p24, May/June 2012 Retail Technology magazine) and over 2,500 users have downloaded and registered with the app.

Capital debut steps up a gear

The move to the capital marks a significant step-change for the business, which was founded in 2012 by a team of young tech entrepreneurs over an informal discussion in a coffee shop. 

“We’ve been thrilled with the response to our initial Beta trial,” explained Steffan Aquarone, co-founder and chief executive. 

“Birmingham is a tremendous city and a great place to try something new with a receptive audience and a vibrant independent retail scene. We knew if we could prove the concept, we’d have a successful model we could roll out across the UK.”  

Droplet has put its initial success down to its ease of use and the attraction of choosing an alternative to banking and credit card systems. But the London launch, for which the company has been signing up new retailers since 1 March, will mark the introduction of some new ‘killer features’.

The new Droplet Tools ‘platform’ will enable developers to build customised features for merchants so they can offer extra things to people who pay with the app, from loyalty features to pre-order options. 

Opening up to developers

“We know about delivering a great payment experience, which is why we’re opening up the platform to let other developers build the things they know about,” said Will Grant, co-founder and chief technical officer.

“Whether you want to help people get everything together for an evening out, dispatch virtual goods in seconds, or allow customers to order without leaving their seats, Droplet Tools helps realise the true potential of mobile commerce.”

Being fee-free has proven particularly popular with small businesses, but the company is quick to point out that it isn’t just for independents. 

The team has been negotiating with tens of large, national retailers and the first of these will be announced at the London launch, along with their specific needs so developers have live, paid projects to start building on the platform.

Staying outside the mainstream

Karen Hughes, Droplet brand director, added: “A lot of Droplet’s success is down to the satisfaction you get when you choose something completely outside of the traditional banking and card sector. It’s a way for people to make an active choice in a part of their lives that’s usually heavily prescribed.  

“With our app there’s no more handing over your card and waiting to be ‘approved’ – you’re in control with your phone and now that extends to more than just payments.”

Future plans include the roll out of the App to other major cities across the UK, including Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.