Digital & IT

Published: June 19, 2020 | Updated: June 19, 2020

Change for the better as lightbulb moment in pub leads to duo’s digital alternative to coins

Chris Forero-Slee and James Cummins, Co-Founders, Shrap.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

It was one of those lightbulb moments.

Chris Forero-Slee and James Cummins were paying for their pints in the pub and received the change.

And it involved a lot of coins.

“We just looked at each other and said: ‘There’s got to be a better way’,” recalled Chris.

Fast forward three years and they’ve created that better way.

Shrap is the digital alternative to coins.

The app/card replaces coins but seeks to replicate the features of cash – free and anonymous to use, bearer-based and inclusive of all in society.

At the same time it harnesses the best of digital: convenient, efficient and secure.

Chris, 37, said: “Our company strapline is ‘Change for the better’ and that sums it up perfectly.

“It’s not about going cashless but, instead, making cash more convenient to use.”

Chris and James co-founded Bournemouth-based Shrap in May 2018, one year after that ‘lightbulb moment’ in the pub.

Chris, who has a background in finance, is CEO while James, also 37, is the Chief Technical Officer.

They have known each other, and been friends, since university.

So how does Shrap work?

Chris said: “Imagine you go into a shop and pay for something costing £4.99 with a £5 note.

“Instead of receiving the 1p change as a coin the penny is transferred onto your app or card.

“It’s effectively a digital coin jar.

“Money can be easily received or spent from the jar, for free, or transferred to a bank account.

“You can store up to a maximum of £150 and make micropayments of up to £10, via the Shrap app, without needing to carry cash.

“Making or receiving a payment on Shrap will always be free of charge.

“Only if you choose to withdraw money to your bank account is there a charge.

“That’s a transparent, fixed fee of £0.90p to cover the banks’ processing fees.”

Since the company was founded two years ago Shrap, which is licensed with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as a Small Electronic Money Issuer, has completed a live trial in Bournemouth as part of the FCA Sandbox.

The successful trials to date in Bournemouth have included 20 businesses, ranging from coffee shops and hairdressers to pharmacies and vape shops.

Just under 1,000 transactions using Shrap were completed without a hitch.

Benefits to businesses of using Shrap include:

  • Ability to issue change to customers without the need to handle physical coins.
  • Significantly reduce the rising costs associated with accepting cash.
  • Receive micropayments via the Shrap app, without incurring any transaction fees.
  • Keep more currency in circulation, benefitting local (and national) economies.

Chris said: “The testing was very robust and we’re very pleased with the outcome.

“We’ve received excellent feedback from both people using Shrap and also businesses.

“Without question we’re ahead of the game.

“At the moment all the innovation is focused on notes, and not coins.

“We believe that people should be able to transact anonymously and for free.

“With the future of cash uncertain, and the burden on retailers to support it increasing, Shrap offers the best of both worlds.

“It solves a genuine problem while supporting the continued personal freedom that cash offers.

”We’re looking forward to taking it to market and then rolling it out more widely,” he added.