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Get to know a Toronto startup: SmoothPay

Posted by Anna Starasts / March 13, 2014

smoothpayOur ability to make and take payments with our smartphones has never been easier. While our mobile wallet hasn't yet become more convenient than plain old cash or cards, it's becoming even more appealing to pay using a mobile device with apps that combine rewards programs with payment, like the hugely successful Starbucks app.

Toronto startup SmoothPay is taking it one step further with its all-in-one payment, offers and rewards app, without having to download a new app for every retailer. Here's how it works: once you've downloaded the free SmoothPay app for iPhone, Android and Blackberry Z10, you can browse all the locations around you that accept SmoothPay and any incentives they offer. When you're ready to pay, launch the app and display the QR code pay screen to the retailer's SmoothPay terminal, and presto - you've paid, collected rewards, cashed in on offers, and had your receipt emailed to you.

Founded by Brian Deck, David Yellowlees and Ryan Hall, Smoothpay launched in January 2014. The company currently has 30 businesses locally using its service, including cafes, cupcake shops, fitness studios and hair salons. Here, Co-Founder and CEO Brian Deck shares some more details about his startup's loyalty-promoting mobile wallet.

You've been focused on small businesses so far. Why is SmoothPay of particular interest to independents?

One big benefit is that while companies like Starbucks have the resources and brand strength to achieve adoption of a mobile payment and loyalty app, the costs of developing such an app are out of reach for most small businesses. Consumers also don't want thousands of apps in their phone and SmoothPay is a single app for many great businesses. This convenience appeals to both independent businesses and large franchise chains.

How does SmoothPay make money?

SmoothPay is a free app for consumers and as soon as you sign up you are entitled to offers from every location. For businesses, we don't charge credit card processing fees, but the business pays $1 the first time a SmoothPay customer pays with the app at their location, then pays 4% when a loyalty milestone has been met. There's also a $12 monthly fee for our terminal.

Do you have any significant competitors in this space?

We haven't seen anyone doing what we are doing here in Canada. There are many payment companies and many loyalty companies, but no one that effectively combines both (except for Starbucks, but they aren't really our competitor). Mobile apps like theirs are actually great for us since it helps consumers become accustomed to using their phone to pay. If you know how to use the Starbucks app you use regularly, you'll know how to use SmoothPay.

You're creating a local "digital foodie community" around SmoothPay. How are you doing this?

There is so much great food and drink that our awesome cafes and restaurants serve. We want to make it known, so we post to our blog, tweet and share with our community as much as possible. There are so many really cool restaurateurs here that work hard and love what they do. We really want our customers to know that when they open the SmoothPay they will not only be very pleased with the quality of their experience with the app, but also with the culinary experience offered by the restaurant or cafe they chose.



Ryan / March 13, 2014 at 07:03 am
Good idea, but I won't be a user until it's more widely adopted. A big problem is that many large retailers already have their own payment and/or reward cards so they would be reluctant to switch. Best of luck!
lister / March 13, 2014 at 10:00 am
The Android app needs some work. Selecting Places causes the app to crash. Favs works (the map with businesses comes up) until you try to select a business then it crashes. Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 stock.
lister / March 13, 2014 at 11:00 am
Oh and make the location services requirement optional. I'd rather save battery life and type in my postal code, address or intersection.
Brian Deck replying to a comment from Ryan / March 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm
Ryan, thanks for your comments, we appreciate your feedback.

SmoothPay is in many cool downtown Toronto locations. If your favourite place(s) don't have SmoothPay yet, let us know and we will get them on board.

Brian, CEO
Ben / March 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Works great and is only in the early stages from what I can tell. If it expands to larger retail franchises that would be far, I'm liking it and use it at a local coffee spot near me
Jonathan / March 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm
Cool learning a little more about this company. I have actually used this at the food court in the village by the grange across from OCAD. At a few of the places. I think at each of the places I got a discount on my first order. Like being able to just bring my phone. Get more places signed up guys!
Alex / March 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm
I love how you focus on stores within "communities"! It's very convenient being able to use this app at various places all within my general neighborhood.
Viv / March 13, 2014 at 02:05 pm
I used this for the first time at balzacs and loved the convenience of paying with my phone! So easy, quick and I got a discount! Good luck, I would love to see this in every store.
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