Botrow Technologies is grateful to have been selected by EDGSJ as a participant in the Smart and Connected Data Project second round. Botrow is a payment processing and data collection company located here in Saint John. Botrow started in 2015 when it launched its first product line to help charitable organizations sell and track tickets for charitable 50/50 draws. The self-serve ticket kiosks for 50/50 draws were eventually adapted into Botrow’s second business line: self-serve lift ticket kiosks for ski hills.
In 2018, with two developed business lines, Botrow discovered another area to implement its self-serve payment processing and data collection software and hardware. Through a partnership with Saint John Transit and funding from EDGSJ under the first round of the Smart and Connected Data Project, Botrow was able to develop a smart-card transit payment system and is currently working towards a trial. As part of the transit payment system, there will be an app that uses QR code technology for payment, TaPay.
While QR code payment is not (yet) frequently seen in North America, it is a common means of payment in Europe and Asia. A quick search of Alipay or WeChat Pay will give background information on using QR codes for payment.
In 2019, Botrow approached Uptown Saint John to discuss the opportunity of converting its Uptown Dollars program from a paper currency into an electronic platform. Uptown Dollars is a universal gift card that can be purchased from Uptown Saint John and redeemed at any participating business in the Uptown Saint John business improvement area (“BIA”). This universal gift card is treated as cash by participating businesses who then return the gift cards to Uptown Saint John for payment. Twice a year Uptown Saint John runs a promotion where customers can purchase up to $500 in Uptown Dollars at a 20% discount. This promotion is wildly successful and leads to increased spending in the BIA.
Uptown Dollars has been a great success but being a paper currency limits its ability to grow. By converting Uptown Dollars from a paper currency to an electronic platform, Uptown Saint John will be able to collect basic demographics on individuals purchasing Uptown Dollars (age range, general geographic residence) and have a better understanding of when and how Uptown Dollars are being purchased and redeemed. This information, combined with increased flexibility, will allow Uptown Saint John to run different and more promotions to increase sales at the businesses within its BIA.
Converting Uptown Dollars from a paper currency into an electronic platform will provide both Uptown Saint John and the participating businesses with more information, reduced administration and an overall improved system that has the tools to increase sales.
From the customers perspective, the TaPay app will allow Uptown Dollars to be easily purchased, transferred and redeemed:
- Purchasing: The ease of purchasing, along with improved data collection, will allow Uptown Saint John the necessary tools and knowledge to increase the promotional benefits to customers when purchasing Uptown Dollars.
- Transferring: The ability to transfer Uptown Dollars to other TaPay users will be a great feature for gift cards or parents who want to give their children money for a specific purpose and want to limit how the funds can be spent.
- Redeeming: With Uptown Dollars on your TaPay phone app, you will no longer fall subject to the situation where you are frequently at a store but the gift card is at home on your dresser.
Botrow is currently consulting with businesses from the Uptown Saint John BIA to determine the most important features for launch and would love to hear your thoughts, whether you are a business owner or a customer. Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.