New payment technology provides opportunity for independent retailers to flourish this Christmas

Published on: 16 September 2015

Tico is driving Droplet's launch in Exeter

Many of us will already have descended upon the high street this December in search of the perfect Christmas present; most of the familiar stores will accept our credit cards in exchange for Christmas gifts or refreshments to inspire our mission. However, a new payment technology is looking to change the shape of shopping and open up opportunities to discover inspiring and exciting independent retailers.

Droplet Rewards Payment Technology is a smartphone app that allows customers to pay for goods/services and receive 'rewards' at the touch of a button. The technology aims to compete with traditional card payment systems where around two per cent of the transaction fee is taken from retailers by the banks who operate them. This deduction is a small amount for large, corporate organisations but represents a huge deduction for independent retailers.

The app is the World's only fee-free payment system and has already been taken on by 20 local independent retailers in Exeter including Bunyip Beads and Buttons and The Glorious Art House – café, gift shop and gallery.

Such retailers are lesser known, but thanks to the support of Droplet provide the Exeter shopper with a whole new outlook and destination for shopping. The app is also GPS located and has the ability to display all independent Exeter retailers on an easy to use guide for the savvy shopper.

However, Droplet is more than a different means to pay for your shopping or coffee. The Droplet ethos is about changing behaviour and rewarding smaller retailers with some of the power that larger corporations are able to use on the consumer market. For example, the rewards aspect of the app allows retailers to target previous customers with their daily specials or a free coffee. Retailers can use Droplet as a direct marketing tool and in turn customers can receive special offers.

Droplet is using £575,000 of Crowdfunding raised via University of Exeter Innovation Centre tenants, Crowdcube, to take the 'rewards' aspect of droplet to a national level with Exeter joining Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Norwich and Cambridge. The next step for Exeter is the introduction of a loyalty points scheme in the city; Devon Points which will see users of Droplet receive loyalty points that they can collect to use for further shopping in the city.

Tico Altahona is the driving force behind the roll out of Droplet in the city. Tico is a Colombian national and won a place on the Ayudar One Planet MBA Scholarship Programme (OPMBA). The scholarship is open to Colombian citizens with a desire to make a difference in helping business to contribute back to society and/or improve the environment. The funds are generously donated by an alumnus from the University of Exeter and his Colombian wife - Gerry Brown and Clemencia Brown.

Tico is currently undergoing an internship with Droplet. He explained: "We are helping Exeter's independent merchants to be more profitable by giving them the ability to use the power of the internet in their payment services."

Tico will soon be returning to Colombia to pursue his own business providing shoes for poor school children who would otherwise be unable to attend school. Tico’s social enterprise, Ware shoes, provides a Colombian school pupil with a new pair of shoes for every pair of shoes sold to the public.

Tico said: “The shoes are made to last by local artisans because we think grassroots development from Colombians to Colombians is vital. The company is a success; the artisans are overwhelmed in the production.”

Tico’s business differs to other schemes in that his shoes are manufactured and distributed in Columbia rather than being produced elsewhere. He is keeping the skills and income within his country. Tico is passionate about educating people as opposed to money making. He is looking forward to using the skills developed during his internship and applying them to his own business.

Remarking on his experience at Exeter Tico said: “The OPMBA has changed my life – opening my mind and opening new doors – doors I never expected.”

The droplet app is available to download on iOS and Android. At the time of writing the Exeter businesses currently signed up are:

  • Kathy Rufolo Services
  • SaltCity Surf Shop
  • Hidden Treasure Tea Room
  • No Guys No Glory
  • Artisan Chai
  • Tony's
  • OMG! Comics
  • Sancho's Dress
  • Lets Do Cafe
  • Bunyip Beads and Buttons
  • iRepair - Fore Street
  • TBM - The Belt Makers
  • The Glorious Art Cafe
  • Jelly Charity Shop
  • Dart Locker
  • Devon Cafe
  • iRepair - University of Exeter campus
  • Monty's Beads
  • Real Food Cafe
  • Hyde + Seek
  • Innovation Centre Cafe
  • The Generator
  • South West Pirate Crew
  • The Best of Exeter
  • MRP Services
  • Science Park Centre Cafe

Related links

» Droplet Rewards Payment Technology
» Crowdcube
» Ware shoes

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