Get to know a Toronto startup: SmoothPay

Our 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.

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