Its launch was hailed as a chance to bypass big banks and support local business – five years on, the Bristol Pound is expanding its reach with an upgrade to digital.
A new app will enable people to manage their account from their smartphone, make speedy payments, break down barriers to using the currency in a contactless age and boost the city’s economy.
“It’s been ten years since big banks caused the financial crash, and not a lot has changed in the banking industry since then,” says Ciaran Mundy, CEO at Bristol Pound, who officially launched the app on Tuesday (October 17).
“Understandably, trust in banks is pretty low. Meanwhile, we’re seeing a real revival in the independent business sector as people choose local shops over chain stores.
“This new app enables users to address both these areas – circumventing greedy high street banks and at the same time supporting the local independent businesses which make Bristol the vibrant and iconic city that we all love.”
Bristol-based software consultancy Scott Logic developed the app pro-bono in partnership with the Bristol Pound.
“As a personal user of The Bristol pound, I have always endorsed the concept but I could see how the existing technology presented users with unnecessary hurdles and would prevent the currency from reaching its full potential,” says Nic Hemley, CEO of Scott Logic.
“Scott Logic specialises in providing bespoke software applications for the financial sector so creating an app such as this was second nature to us and allowed us to use our expertise whilst trialling some cutting edge, open source technology.
“In the financial sector, mobile is key and having a fully functional mobile application which can be used across both apple and android devices is one of the biggest hurdles for a business to overcome and we’ve done just that.”
It is now five years since the first paper Bristol Pound was spent by the lord mayor on a loaf of bread and since then, the currency has become internationally recognised as a trend setter – being the first you can use to pay energy bills and local taxes.
Owner of Southville Deli, Paul Wick says: “Bristol Pounds just make good business sense – they’re in line with our customers’ values and they’re a great way for us to keep money circulating with other local businesses, building a network of mutual support.
“This new app will make it much easier for customers to use Bristol Pounds day to day. Plus, the app literally leads customers right to us.”
Main photo: Ciaran Mundy (left) and Nic Hemley (right).