Financial tools supporting the local economy: the world’s first crowd-funded fee free payment app

“There seems be a real appetite among consumers to buy from independent retailers and support community shopping”

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Those who have been expressing interest in Localise West Midlands’s involvement with a future Birmingham Pound will also read the Birmingham Press account of Birmingham’s Droplet a mobile app born in Birmingham promising a ‘customer loyalty revolution’.

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The Press reports: “Droplet, the brainchild of tech entrepreneurs Steffan Aquarone and Will Grant, has used £575,000 of Crowdfunding to take the world’s first fee free payment app into eight cities across the UK. More than 300 independent retailers across Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Norwich are now accepting transactions by using the simple mobile app . . . The first eight cities have been chosen due to their vibrant independent scenes and their willingness to embrace new idea. Local ambassadors, who are well known in the community, have been appointed in each location to work with merchants to introduce the technology and grow the Droplet brand organically. With user numbers now over 23,000, there are plans already in place to build on the initial rollout by targeting another ten cities in 2016.

Will Grant says: “Birmingham is still a critically important city for us. This is where the Droplet story all began and we have just strengthened our team here to include new ambassador Laura Patricia Jones. She will be charged with building on our existing merchant base of 35 retailers and growing our user numbers in the city.”

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Using Droplet is simple for the consumer, just tap ‘pay here’ when entering a registered outlet for the first time and the payment is taken directly from your chosen card – you’ll get a notification on your phone to show how much you’ve been charged and the reward stamps you’ve earned.

For further information, please visit follow @dropletpay on twitter or watch the launch video on YouTube:

Democratise Birmingham?

LWM Co-ordinator Karen Leach advocates that both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigners take the initiative, capitalise on the passion of people on both sides and begin dialogue on progressive politics for our area on our terms . . .

No stranger to this dialogue, LWM’s George Morran wrote earlier this year:

“The reality of devolution has to be grasped for the English Regions and their local communities; we need new constitutional and economic settlements which downsize and refocus Westminster and Whitehall; power, resources and democratic accountability have to be transferred to local communities, and those functions needing a regional approach should be taken on by elected regional governments able to work as equals with the devolved governments which exist in the rest of the UK.

“The localisation of government in England will help shift the approach to economic development from globalisation to the local, promoting civic pride and involvement.”

Karen added some relevant detail after the mayoral referendum:

  • We can investigate the potential for strategic collaboration – mayoral or otherwise – across local authority boundaries, leaving local authorities’ democracies intact, and push for a conurbation-sized city deal. Greater Manchester offers us one model.
  • We can also press for urban parish or community councils.
  • We can investigate the potential for citizen-led economic development programmes such as are successful in creating socially beneficial economies many parts of Canada and America, to balance the economically centralist drivers of LEPs.
  • We should certainly discuss how local governance can get the best balance between diverse and decentralised representative democracy, efficient decision-making, transparency and resilience to vested interests.

She ended:

“There may well be new Birmingham councillors keen to see change and willing to talk about new ideas.”

In similar vein, note Democratise Birmingham, a new space in the Birmingham Press, designed to allow for debate, opinion, news and information about the shape and direction of democracy within Britain’s second city, the largest single local authority in Europe.