Vancouver-based tech startup nTrust wants to “free everyone’s money”, according to Rod Hsu.
“The idea is basically squeezing the entire economy of cash out of the system and turning it into digital cash,” nTrust’s chief experience officer told the Georgia Straight during an interview at the company’s downtown office. “It’s being able to interact with people on a financial level but being able to give them the freedom and ability to do that as openly and freely as possible.”
It might sound like Hsu is talking about Bitcoin. But he was actually referring to nTrust’s Cloud Money platform, which launches today (September 9) with apps for iPhone and Android devices, and runs on fiat currencies like the Canadian dollar.
DougieDog, a local food truck, will be the first business to officially accept payments using the nTrust platform. The UBC Alma Mater Society will start doing so this fall.
Hsu and Wayne Chen, nTrust’s creative director, provided a demonstration of how the apps work. The home screen displays your avatar surrounded by those of your friends and favourite businesses. Each user has a QR code, making it easy to add someone to your list.
If you want to make a payment to or request payment from someone, you just drag your avatar to theirs.
“The idea is you choose who you want to transact with first, and then you enter the amount,” Chen said. “Typically, in payment apps, you choose the amount and then choose people after.”
As well, Bluetooth Low Energy allows you to see nearby businesses on the platform. When making a purchase, you type in the amount and adjust a slider to determine the tip amount. Both the customer and business will get a transaction notification.
Any payment can be described with a note and tags. Tagging allows for easier searching of past transactions.
Businesses will pay one percent of every sale made on the platform to nTrust. Hsu said 25 percent of each commission will go to charities selected by users.
Users can upload funds to Cloud Money via Interac Online, bank transfer, or wire transfer. They can withdraw funds via bank transfer, cheque, or wire transfer. There’s also the option of creating a prepaid virtual Mastercard for online purchases.
“We’re not replacing the credit card system—we’re digital cash,” Hsu stressed.
Within the app, you can exchange money between six currencies—those of Canada, the U.S., the U.K., the European Union, the Philippines, and Australia. Hsu said nTrust has no plans to add Bitcoin.
Users can take a photo of their government ID and use the optical character recognition feature to speed up the registration process. There are fees for some services, such as international transfers.
According to Hsu, nTrust’s target market is “micromerchants”—small businesses—and the company has international ambitions. He hopes deals and loyalty programs, which will be added in the future, will offer an incentive for both consumers and businesses to sign on to the platform.