Retailers, bars and coffee shops in Leeds will be among the first businesses in the UK to take advantage of a mobile payment app being officially launched this week.

‘Droplet Rewards’ – the brainchild of tech entrepreneurs Steffan Aquarone and Will Grant – is offering firms in the City the chance to take advantage of the world’s only fee-free system with payment made simply by the tap of a button.

Merchants can now go one stage further and give customers the opportunity to collect rewards on their phone, creating their own loyalty scheme for a fraction of the cost normally involved.

Nearly 25 local retailers have already signed up be part of the ‘Droplet Rewards’ roll-out, including Café 164, Tall Boys, BangWok and several merchants in Leeds Corn Exchange.

“Leeds is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, with a thriving food and drink scene and an army of independent retailers prepared to be part of a ‘quiet’ payment revolution,” explained Steffan Aquarone.

“Droplet was founded on the belief that you can do payments differently, with absolutely no transaction fees for merchants or consumers – unlike contactless, credit cards or Paypal.”

He continued: “We needed to move this forward even further and came up with the idea of ‘Rewards’, where the merchant could award the customer a virtual stamp every time they spend in store. This could then translate into a free cup of coffee, 20% off a meal or even a free product.

“This is a ready-made loyalty platform for just £20 per month and all they need is a web-connected device at the point of sale to make it a reality.”

Using Droplet is simple for the consumer, just tap ‘pay here’ when entering a registered outlet for the first time and the payment is taken directly from your chosen card – you’ll get a notification on your phone to show how much you’ve been charged and the reward stamps you’ve earned.

Over time customers will be able to remove queuing from their visits, with the ZeroTouch® technology allowing the retailer to know what you want when you check in, serve you your drinks/products and then taking payment automatically.

Café 164, which is situated at the heart of Leeds’ arts quarter, was one of the first firms in the City to embrace it.

“Droplet was originally introduced to us under the umbrella of Leeds Indie Food, a city-wide celebration of independent food and drink,” explained manager Amy Balderston.

“We relish the ethos behind it; the fact it is supporting companies like our own to build stronger relationships with our customers in a very affordable way.

“Droplet is very easy to use and holds a fairly big appeal to people who share the ‘geek’ based joy of being able to pay using their smart phones.

“As a small independent, the fact it is a fee-free way of taking payments was a massive attraction.”


Droplet, which is available on iOS and Android, is using £575,000 of Crowdfunding to take ‘Rewards’ national with Leeds joining Birmingham, Manchester, Norwich and Cambridge as one of the first cities to benefit.

More than 1000 merchants across the UK accept Droplet, with 150 of those already signed up and starting to reward customers for their visits.

The company’s growth to date has been underpinned by an innovative approach that focuses on local communities.

Rather than hiring a remote sales team, it has instead looked to appoint Ambassadors as a way of introducing the app to new locations.

“Droplet ambassadors tend to be entrepreneurial, well-connected individuals who are already active within their local community,” pointed out Aaron Christie, who is responsible for the Leeds launch.

“I was tasked with identifying the most influential small businesses in the City and engaging with them in a genuine way, thereby allowing Droplet to establish itself and grow organically through word-of-mouth.

“The emphasis is on building personal relationships and working closely with local merchants to train staff on how to get the most out of it. We want this to be a brand that people take ownership of and enjoy using.

“If we achieve this, then “Droplet Rewards’ will be a success and Leeds could be a springboard for entering other cities in Yorkshire,” concluded Aaron.