Tell us about Payfriendz
It’s a peer-to-peer social media app that lets you instantly transfer money to your friends. It’s easy to use, allows you to make withdrawals, shop online, and all with a chat function on top of that. It also transfers in your choice of currencies: pounds, dollars, euros as well as yen by the end of the year.
What was the thinking behind it?
We wanted a quick, secure and sociable way to transfer cash. It’s far easier not actually having to use cash. Any Friday night there’s always a massive queue for the Sainsbury’s ATM machine, but with this app just take your phone and you’re good to go.
There seem to be a lot of similar apps crowding at the current moment. How is yours different?
We don’t think the market is crowded with similar apps. It’s just the big players like the banks, but they’re not thinking about what is really useful to consumers. I’d say we’re different because we’re disrupting the market by using new technology to offer customers something that can change the way they live. It’s really easy and fast to register and once it’s up and running, works by using the contacts in your address book. Once your friends download the app you can instantly send money to each other.
So there’s no need to give bank details out or anything?
Not at all, there’s no need to give us anything like that. We just take your name, telephone number (to check it’s a real one!) and then you’re away and running. You can connect the app with your Facebook if you want but it’s up to you.
A lot of people are worried about the security of their online data and how it might be used.
Understandably. But at Payfriendz we’re not like that. We’re not self-serving.
We’ve got lots of ideas but we have a secure payment platform in which we are confident. Users’ financial information is encrypted and we di not sell data to anybody. We only share data when we have to comply with regulations and security processes and that’s it. We’re not like some big fat hen house waiting for a fox to come in and rob all your data. No way. There are ways of managing data so it doesn’t have to sit in a big server in our office.
What was the thinking behind the app?
The key thing is to get people into certain types of purchasing and socialising so we build something that works for them. Working with entrepreneurs and small businesses, we want to do things in different ways. This is an easy and sociable way of sending money to your friends, so after a night out you can instantly transfer money you owe. We also added the messaging function with custom made emoticons to make it friendlier than you might expect for a money transfer app!
Where will you go from here?
What we want to achieve is to build something for the mass-market, something that we hope people will use. Around the end of the year we want to have a physical card running off the account that you can top up with your payment card and use for online shopping. We want to get the product into the hands of lots of creative, energetic, tech-savvy people who can make good use of what we offer.
How will you encourage people to pick up this way of buying?
Much more promotion of the product via social media. We’ll go for particular communities. An obvious one is the student community – splashing out for each other on all kinds of things like food and leisure. Also we think that clubs like sports clubs would find it useful as it means they can do away entirely spread sheets. We want to look at festivals too, as they are always very poorly served regarding payment facilities: the queues in the rain for cashpoint, food and everything else. Quite frankly it’s just a lot of messing about. What we can provide is pretty necessary. As it builds individuals will work out how to use Payfriendz because it’s easier (and more secure) than cash. And unlike cash it doesn’t smell.
So what have been the biggest challenges?
We had to go through all the hoops to make sure we are okay from the regulatory point of view. We invested a lot of time and effort into the security, because it’s that rather than convenience which is of the most importance. So many people in this kind of industry stop as soon as they’ve got something convenient, thinking that convenience is enough to drive users to their product. However, you have to do all that stuff like security in the morning and only then can we spend the afternoon doing interesting things like building business partnerships.
What advice would you give people wanting to start up a business?
Talk to people who are older than you! There’ll probably know more than you do. Also you should really know what you want to do, what your product is offering. You should also know how the space you’re in is currently working. Networking with other entrepreneurs is also really important as it can give you invaluable insight. But mainly, you should get yourself a bunch of mentors to chat with because expert advice is priceless. Mentoring is at least as important as money. Knowledge is key to making a business successful.