Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pygg flies high with social media payments By Nic Christensen 27 March

 In the future, every university student might carry a digital piggy bank with them, thanks to Pygg, a form of social media banking that transfers small amounts of money via email, SMS and Twitter.

 Launched last month, Pygg is the brainchild of Tim Howard, the son of former prime minister John Howard, and Rohan Lund, the chief executive of Seven West Media's digital arm Yahoo!7.
 "Rohan and I have shared a common philosophy that technology is going to be pretty disruptive to just about every industry, and we were looking at investing in something and the banking industry was quite attractive," said Mr Howard, commercial director at telco vividwireless.
 "We really wanted to build a payment network that makes it easy and fun to pay your friends and family."
 The two founding investors set up Pygg last year and worked with prominent web business start-up company Pollenizer to launch the online payment system to coincide with university orientation week. The company recently secured angel funding of more than $600,000.
 Mr Lund said he had high hopes for the social media initiative. "I think it's exciting to see something launch in Australia rather than us being the recipient of an overseas idea," he said.
 "Too often we take on what's happened in other markets and people just try to copy it here."
 Pygg, named after the orange clay jar used to store valuables, allows users to create an account and make easy payments through a variety of electronic platforms.
 It charges users $2.50 to deposit into their account; account balances are capped at $700. Once users have made a deposit in their account they will be able to transfer via email, SMS and Twitter. The company expects to allow transactions via Facebook and an iPhone app soon.
 University of Sydney students Zak Vickers and Natalie Bennell, office holders at the Mechanical Undergraduates Society, have used the service to streamline payments for the club. "As a (student) society we will definitely use it a bit," said Mr Vickers, MUGS president.
 "Whenever we have an event, like our cruise, there might be a cost like $30 a head and not everyone will have that in cash on them but Pygg means they don't have to have the cash on them but they can still pay us instantly."
 Club secretary Ms Bennell agreed: "It's very easy. You don't have to get all their details when you want to pay someone; you just have to have their Twitter account."
 Mr Howard said universities were a good test market. "University students are early adopters; they are quite digitally savvy and they are also the first generation that is totally comfortable transacting money online," he said.
 While not being drawn on the number of Pygg users, Mr Howard said the initial take-up was good. "During O-Week we were only on a couple of campuses but we had a good take-up of about 500 or so customers a week," he said.

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