OCTOBER 2021

Centennial Central

100 Years of Partnership

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

tiptap Technology Enables Touchless Donations

We’ve all been there. You’re in a scenario where you wish you had cash. Nobody carries cash, right?

That’s exactly what happened to Chris Greenfield, CEO and founder of Canadian startup tiptap. A valet returned his car to him, and Chris didn’t have cash to leave a tip. Chris felt the valet’s pain, too. The valet relied on tips for 20-30% of income, and the fact that no one carried cash was having a noticeable effect on his income – and he’s not alone. This is a problem that affects a growing number of individuals and businesses.

As a financial industry technologist, Chris knew he could do something about the problem.

What if the valet wore a tiny lapel button that people could tap to pay? Whether from a credit card, a debit card or a mobile wallet, the tip amount displayed on the face of that button goes into the valet’s bank account.

Taking that thought further, what about nonprofits also suffering because no one has loose change or dollar bills to donate? In Canada alone, charities were losing about $3.6 billion a year because people don’t carry cash. What if the same idea could be applied to charitable donations?

“If we can get that money to the people who need the help most, that’s really what our purpose is as a company,” Chris said. “We are driven by that.”

And tiptap was born.

The tiptap device

Chris and his team developed a device called tiptap, a fixed amount, standalone payment receiver. What you see displayed on the device is what you pay, whether it’s $2 or $10. And because tiptap is a standalone system with double encryption, it doesn’t require a secondary device for verification as some other terminals or payment acceptance providers do.

“We don’t have to tie into an IT infrastructure or Wi-Fi, and you don’t have to remember a Wi-Fi password. Our customers turn it on, and it’s ready to collect. As a standalone solution, more collection locations are possible than any other payment acceptance device out there. We’re able to put tiptap into posters, counter units, floor stands and even outdoor media boards,” Chris said.

Technology development

Having worked in financial technology, Chris knew there hadn’t been major changes in payment acceptance technology in years. Globally, two competing platforms dominated: QR and NFC. The QR (quick response) code platform requires a mobile app and takes time and effort to make a payment or donation. The other platform, NFC (near field communications), uses mobile wallet and chip card technology. Chris and his team selected NFC because of its simplicity and prevalence in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

“We spent about a year working on the technical feasibility of the product. That entailed going back and forth with contractors and engineering firms, often being told that what we wanted to do wasn’t possible. We always came back with a solution to whatever barrier they put up,” Chris said.

“Avnet supported us through the prototyping and iterative development phase. They helped us align on our build of materials and worked on our sourcing,” Chris said.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.


COVID-19’s impact

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, tiptap was positioned for growth, had solid orders and a build scheduled with Avnet. When the pandemic hit, tiptap lost investors and commitments literally overnight. Chris restructured the company and its proposition. He added touchless giving™ and touchless payments™ to the trademark registry. Opportunities were still there, but so was the pandemic’s uncertainty. Fortunately, tiptap still had customer contracts and the team at Avnet.

“Avnet worked with us to see us through those hard months. Whether it was the sales team or head office, Avnet believed in what we were trying to do, and they helped us substantially. They knew we were going to come back. And we came back stronger than ever,” Chris said.

tiptap launched its first products with a big national campaign in Canada, then released second and third versions with improved functionality and capabilities.

“We closed our next round of funding. We’ve expanded the team from two people to more than 25. Our projections have gone to well over 100,000 devices in our first year. And Avnet has been helping us all along the way,” Chris said.

Success and expansion

Avnet teams help tiptap with components supply and with decisions about engineering and manufacturing processes.

“We’ve worked with not only Avnet proper, but two of their strategic partners – one within the engineering field and another one within platform and software development. And, we’re expanding our relationships with all three companies. The support isn’t just from Avnet proper. It’s from the entire Avnet family. It’s been incredible and we’re on the cusp of an even stronger and bigger relationship,” Chris said.

tiptap is a stronger company with a better customer pipeline and is well positioned because of Avnet.

“They helped us get through COVID. They saw what the promise was. They saw our customer contracts and they stuck with us. We’re eternally thankful for the support,” Chris said.

tiptap now operates in North America and the team looks to expand across the globe.

“We’re getting a huge amount of interest everywhere, from Brazil to Australia, New Zealand to Dubai, and from India to the U.K. and France. We’re focused on North America right now and will be doing some expansion into the global markets later this year and in 2022 with the help of Avnet and its global production, warehousing and fulfillment distribution capabilities,” Chris said.

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tiptap's philanthropic philosophy

Whether it's charity fundraising, community giving or business improvement associations, tiptap's team wants to help. This is especially evident in the tiptap foundation's campaign to end homelessness.

Now focused on 10 cities across North America, the tiptap foundation places collection points across urban areas to provide people with efficient and accessible opportunities to give. The money raised through this effort will be given to individuals and organizations that help fight homelessness.

Chris and his team are passionate about the issue and know its causes can be elusive.

"It's people like you and me that have experienced job loss. Or it might have to do with abuse at home. It might just be the circumstances that we have. We have nurses living in vans. You know they have a good job. They just haven't gotten back up on their feet yet and they're homeless. There are moms that are out there with their kids that can't go home and they're living on the streets with their kids. But, they're still taking them to school each and every day. These are the people we're looking to help as part of the foundation," tiptap CEO and founder Chris Greenfield said.

For more information, visit tiptapfoundation.com

tiptap's philanthropic philosophy

Whether it's charity fundraising, community giving or business improvement associations, tiptap's team wants to help. This is especially evident in the tiptap foundation's campaign to end homelessness.

Now focused on 10 cities across North America, the tiptap foundation places collection points across urban areas to provide people with efficient and accessible opportunities to give. The money raised through this effort will be given to individuals and organizations that help fight homelessness.

Chris and his team are passionate about the issue and know its causes can be elusive.

"It's people like you and me that have experienced job loss. Or it might have to do with abuse at home. It might just be the circumstances that we have. We have nurses living in vans. You know they have a good job. They just haven't gotten back up on their feet yet and they're homeless. There are moms that are out there with their kids that can't go home and they're living on the streets with their kids. But, they're still taking them to school each and every day. These are the people we're looking to help as part of the foundation," tiptap CEO and founder Chris Greenfield said.

For more information, visit tiptapfoundation.com