Nick Summers is a technology journalist for The Next Web. He writes on all sorts of topics, although he has a passion for gadgets, apps and Nick Summers is a technology journalist for The Next Web. He writes on all sorts of topics, although he has a passion for gadgets, apps and video games in particular. You can reach him on Twitter, circle him on Google+ and connect with him on LinkedIn.
Droplet, a Birmingham, UK-based startup looking for a stake in the mobile payments market, has launched in London today with the support of two major retailers: Chiltern Railways and Airparks.
The concept behind Droplet will sound familiar to anyone who has looked at Barclays Pingit or O2 Wallet in the UK. The mobile app, available only on iOS at the moment, allows users to load cash onto their smartphone and send payments to other users for free.
Before now, Droplet has been busy experimenting with a beta trial in Birmingham, which has seen 2,500 users and 60 merchants adopt the mobile platform.
The biggest hurdle is, arguably, trying to get more shops and businesses to accept payments via Droplet. With its London launch, the company has persuaded notable train operator Chiltern Railways and airport parking specialist Airparks to adopt the platform. It’s certainly a start, but the company will need to persuade a much larger pool of businesses if it’s to make any real impact on the market.
The differentiator for Droplet, however, is that it doesn’t require merchants to use a custom debit or credit card reader, like Square, PayPal Here or iZettle. Instead, users pay simply by scanning a unique bar code with their phone when they reach the till.
To coincide with the launch, Droplet is also launching a new platform, called Droplet Tools, which gives developers the ability to build customized features for merchants, such as discounts or a reward scheme.
“This ranges from helping people get everything together for an evening out, dispatching virtual goods in seconds, or allowing customers to order without leaving their seats, Will Grant, CTO of Droplet said. “The ‘Tools’ bring about the true potential of mobile commerce and an end to the frustrating barriers people usually experience paying via mobile.”
While it’s still early days for Droplet, the company clearly has a lot of work to do when it comes to building partnerships with merchants and improving the mobile app’s general awareness.
The firm says it will be launching in other major cities across the UK, including Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, later this spring alongside a new funding round.
If Droplet’s story sounds familiar, you might remember them under the guise of Settle. The company was forced to rebrand last year after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Swedish mobile payments firm iZettle, who claims that there were “visual, conceptual and aural similarities” with its name.
➤ Droplet | iOS
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