Settle Launch
Russ Cockburn

Mobile money app ‘settles’ on Birmingham for trial

Birmingham will be the first City in the world to trial a new free app that allows you to send payments via a mobile phone text.

Settle, which has been created by tech entrepreneurs Will Grant and Steffan Aquarone, allows you to load cash onto your phone and send payments to anyone in the world for free.

Following an initial private beta trial, the mobile money app will officially launch to the public on April 30thwhere you will be able to pay for things in City Centre shops and longer-term enjoy great brand discounts and loyalty offers.

The duo are also in the process of recruiting local merchants to accept payments, with Urban Coffee Company’s two outlets already signed up and taking part.

“At the moment the world of online payments is clumsy and tiresome. And although things are starting to happen in mobile payments, most of it just sounds like a ‘credit card on your phone’,” explained Steffan.

“We think the time is right for something completely different, something truly online and mobile that’s a pleasure to use and which costs nothing to send and receive payments.”

He continued: “Our intention is to encourage people to use Settle instead of cash. So users will be able to top up their account in units of £10 using any debit card. Sending and receiving money is then as easy as cash, but you can do it from anywhere in the world by just choosing someone from your phone book or entering their email address. If they don’t have Settle yet, we’ll send them an email inviting them to sign up.

“Paying for things in shops is easy too - you just scan a special bar code with your phone when you reach the till.”

Settle has already successfully passed operational and security testing, with the private Beta trial designed to improve the user experience before full public access begins at the end of the month (30th).

The Birmingham launch will provide crucial information on how people respond to the ‘app’, how and where they use it, what sort of transactions they use it for and how often merchants want to take money back out and into their everyday bank accounts.

The experience gained from the launch will form the platform for a national roll-out and a business case to secure further private investment and funding from the Technology Strategy Board.

Will picked up the story: “We chose Birmingham due to its strong digital community and its passion for embracing new innovations.

“There’s also a great wealth of independent retailers who can see the value of a payment method that speeds up the process and is easy to set-up and operate.”

He continued: “Longer term we envisage Settle being used by merchants to target potential customers with special offers and loyalty discounts.”

Simon Jenner, Founder at Urban Coffee Co, added his support: “We are always searching for ways to engage with our customers and provide more value for them.

“One of our current frustrations is the cost of taking card payments and the time it takes for that payment to take place at the till. All this slows down our ability to deliver amazing coffee, so when we were approached about the Beta test we jumped at the opportunity.”

Settle has attracted high-profile backers to date with Cobbetts advising on legislative requirements, a major financial institution overseeing security and the head of online at a global retailer adding their expertise from the merchants’ perspective.

The company has also strengthened its core management team with the addition of Andy Smart (Mobile Product Director) and David Roberts (Operations Director), with a team of 25 researchers currently working on the adoption strategy.

Steffan concluded: “We believe Settle has the potential to change the way payments are made all over the world…it’s easy to understand, free to download and fun to use.

“If we can get 50 merchants signed up and successfully using it in Birmingham, it will give us a fairly compelling argument for other Cities to follow suit.”

For further information or to register for Settle, visit www.settleapp.com

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