Finding a way into the niche market of online financial services has high stakes, but the profit potentials make it well worth the risks. The big four banks of Australia is estimated to generate over $29 billion dollars annually. This is something that seems to have been very clearly understood by Brett Hales, the Co-Founder and CEO of Brisbane-based mCommerce and mPOS startup Tappr.
Tappr was established by Hales with co-founders Kerry Esson (CTO) , Ben Lawton (COO), Courtney Keim (General Counsel) and Matthew Wick (Corp Sales) in April 2012. Although Hales didn’t come from a business background himself, he had a vision of online payment processing that was more user friendly, both in application and technologically.
Hales explains where his personal outlook stems from: “I saw first-hand what my parents went through when they started a secondary business. They started a Book Store on the Sunshine Coast and had to purchase a Point of Sale and an EFTPOS terminal. The set up costs (over $1,900) and the time (it took 25 days to get a Credit Card Terminal out to them) were extreme so I went to work researching out businesses could be approved to take payments in real time and start taking payments thereafter.”
In his initial research, Hales investigated why Octopus Card wasn’t used greatly in areas like Australia and Asia. He found that the main obstacle was that PIN keypads were required by Australian regulations for all point of sale transactions.
Hales and his team of co-founders decided to find ways to expand the way these systems were utilised, but also make their payment system more integrated and designed to work within existing payment choices. It’s clear that Hales has a no-nonsense view of the company; his business methods show strength and direction for the startup.
“Tappr is a new way of taking card payments and running your business all from the users smartphone or tablet. Tappr solution combines a proprietary card reader, point-of-sale app and analytics dashboard that has been designed and developed to be simple-to-use, cost effective and requires little staff training,” he says.
Hales breaks the Tappr business model down into two channels: “We’ve designed and developed our own Card Reader as well as the POS app and Dashboard Analytics. Therefore, as well as direct a direct channel, we can target enterprise customers like payment gateways or banks themselves looking for their own solution to satisfy the demands of their own users.”
Although Tappr resembles competitors in the mobile payments market like Square, Hales says Tappr has taken a more holistic approach in its technology and business model: “Many of our competitors brought off the shelf solutions that only accept payments, not the POS, analytics, merchant on-boarding, etc. Not only is our technology a quantum leap in the mPOS space, but our business model is different to our competitors and we go after a more diverse market.”
Tappr finds importance in leveraging an open API, so that their product integrates with other platforms. This was essential to their business model, because it was inherently useful for users of the platform and created additional brand awareness for Tappr.
“Typically real big data wasn’t available to businesses. Most businesses knew fairly well what they sold at the end of each day and what their totals are but there is so much more data that is available to them that is currently going to waste. Using the card reader and app, our solution captures a lot more data and presents it to the user in a simple yet effective way,” says Hales.
“Big business like Coles and Woolworths employ teams of data specialists to filter through vast amounts of information to try and understand their business and customers better. We can show who exactly is your best spending customer, what your average sale amount is, what your most profitable hours of the day are, and is your business attracting new customers or are they predominantly- returning customers?”
Tappr hasn’t applied itself towards the goal of unnecessary growth or expansion, rather just enough to keep their business model steady. In 2013, Tappr managed to close $2 million dollars of investment rounds, putting the company’s value at approximately $11.2 million from both private and public investments.
Earlier this year, Tappr launched its pilot program of proprietary software called JUVO. The company website has gained steady interest from the global business communities and soon will be releasing their own Tappr mobile payment processing device.
For someone who didn’t come into the startup game with the ‘right’ background in sales, marketing, business consulting or hospitality, Hales certainly makes up for it by knowing how to execute his vision. This is something he knows about himself and the team he has assembled at Tappr.
He proudly states that, “I think just getting to where we are today is our greatest achievement. Most people don’t understand what it takes to be in a startup, yet one that is producing hardware and software in the fin tech space. We look back from where we started and it’s an amazing achievement on ridiculous time frames with a shoestring budget.”
Hales also has high hopes for the future of Tappr, mostly because of the ground work the company has already done: “Over the last year we’ve grown up as a company and now have our identity, culture and processes in place. It took a long time and while our company will continue to develop over time, we’ve set a good foundation for the future.”