The Droplet iOS app enables its users to load money onto their phone by direct debit or using their bank card so they can 'send' payments to merchants or friends for free – paying anyone who has signed up to the service.
The service has been trialled in Birmingham with 60 merchants signing up so they can accept instant mobile payments and take advantage of the company's 'no transaction fees' offer. Initially people could pay at participating retailers by scanning the unique merchant QR code in store, but the app now works with the phone's GPS to identify who to make a payment to. Users can browse a map for Droplet merchants and see who is offering special deals.
Droplet is launching in London on Wednesday and the company says it is in negotations with several 'national retailers with shops on every high street', with the first partnership to be revealed at the event. There is a one-off £1 charge to make the link between the app and the bank account being used to make direct debits - which is then given back to you.
Monetisation will come from the company's 'tools marketplace', which the company's CTO, Will Grant, sees as becoming the 'app store for payments'. Developers will have access to the company's APIs so they can create and sell customised tools, including things like ticketing and loyalty funtionality.
“We know payments really well but we don't know about things like tickets or car parking – the marketplace is going to be great for us and great for them," said Grant. Merchants can add a Droplet key to their till and receive email or push notifications when payments to their Droplet account have been made. The company is also working with ePOS companies to integrate the technology directly and offer different solutions within the marketplace. Merchants can also use a smartphone or tablet to monitor their account and reconcile the Droplet balance with their till.
“We felt having a card reader was almost a generation of technology backwards, you're still relying on people putting their card into the reader. Droplet is taking the friction out so hopefully people will need their card less. We're really good for smaller retailers because there will be no monthly charge for a card reader but we're also looking at bigger retailers too."
The app will be launched in other major cities across the UK, including Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.