Buskers and street performers could soon accept contactless and mobile payments thanks to an innovative new device developed by a Brunel University London student.
Tiptap – which will be unveiled at the Made in Brunel exhibition in June – allows those who rely on cash but don’t have a permanent base, such as London’s street performing community, to keep pace and continue accepting vital tips as audiences move towards cashless payments.
“For the third year in a row cash has represented less than half of the total volume of payments made in the UK,” said final-year Industrial Design and Technology BA student Emma McBride, the brains behind Tiptap.
“This change in consumer behaviour has the future potential to exclude those who rely on cash to make a living, including street performers and musicians.”
Tiptap will allow London's street performers to start taking mobile and contactless payments
Tiptap comes in two parts – the first is a contactless payment-equipped stand into which the performer can insert their smartphone. The second part is an app installed onto that smartphone which allows audience members to input the amount they’d like to tip, before tapping their card or mobile on the stand to complete payment.
“The app can also provide users with up-to-date earnings and expenses feedback, whilst helping them to organise other aspects of street performance,” said Emma.
“By registering with Tiptap, performers can manage shows within private schemes, track potential queues in popular locations, and share promotional content with their fanbase.”
The Tiptap app allows customers to track their tips and identify the best pitch
A London native, Emma, 22, was originally inspired to create Tiptap after being unable to reward a busker she’d enjoyed listening to whilst on a night out.
“I never carry any cash, and I did want to give them a tip,” she said.
“It was clear there was a big opportunity to develop something for the street performance industry. The performers are aware of consumer changes, but nothing substantial had been done to help.”
After running a focus group to garner feedback from those that ply their trade entertaining London’s streets, Emma realised that the biggest potential hurdle her customers would face when adopting the technology would be one of trust – how can she get audiences to trust in the security of Tiptap.
“The beauty of cash is that it’s not personal, whereas cards introduce more security risks and people start to think twice,” said Emma.
“To overcome this, I researched other companies that rely on user trust, and as a result Tiptap requires performers to have their account verified before they can use it.
“This small element has a big impact on the public’s perspective, but ultimately trust is something that will have to be gained over time.”
Tiptap allows contactless or mobile payments
Whilst still in its development stage, Emma hopes that there will be opportunity to begin commercialising her product post-university, potentially working alongside a company that already specialises in accepting contactless payments to further hone the device.
Her plan would be to charge performers a one-off fee to set up the touchpoint and account, and then charge a small 5% commission on tips to cover the cost of service going forward.
“Final feedback with buskers was very positive, and people were really excited about the concept and keen for it to be developed into a real business,” said Emma.
“This was a good confidence boost after working on it over the year. Having new users understand the concept and have only positive things to say was really nice.”
Tiptap, along with a host of other innovative new devices designed by final-year design students from Brunel, will be on display at Made in Brunel, which runs at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London, from 15–17 June.
For further information on Industrial Design and Technology at Brunel, please visit www.brunel.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/Industrial-Design-and-Technology-BA
Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
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