Waspit Creates A Buzz As Prepaid Alternative For College Students

What's Next In Payments®
9:56 AM EDT December 13th, 2012

College students are always on Facebook, so they should be able to manage their bank accounts on Facebook. It’s an idea that’s powerful in its simplicity, and one brought to the table by Waspit, a new FDIC-insured prepaid player looking to take advantage of an untapped collegiate demographic. How does Waspit’s social integration attract users, and how is it looking to advance the NFC industry? PYMNTS.com spoke with Richard Steggall, Waspit’s CEO, to learn.

Waspit Creates A Buzz As Prepaid Alternative For College Students

What's Next In Payments®
3:24 PM EDT December 12th, 2012

Despite the hundreds of types of banking accounts and banking alternatives out there, few cater specifically to the college demographic.

Waspit, a prepaid alternative from the U.K. that incorporates social and contactless functions into its products, aims to do just that.

PYMNTS.com spoke with Richard Steggall, CEO of Waspit, to discuss how Waspit works, how it takes advantage of social media and from where the inspiration for his company is derived.

“It was in 2010 that I felt there was an underserved market in the college demographic, particularly around the emerging banking needs that relate to their lifestyle,” Steggall said. “We didn’t feel that banks or some of the banking alternatives had any real plan or desire to provide a service that was relevant to the lifestyle of a student, so with that in mind, we felt there had to be a better way to deliver a solution.”

Steggall said he believes Waspit delivers such a solution in a few ways. First, Waspit account holders are charged just $2 a month for their accounts, and do not pay on a per-transaction basis. The only time an account holder pays additional fees is when he or she uses an out of market ATM or makes a transaction abroad.

Second, Waspit’s mobile app contains useful features such as NFC ability (more on that later), bill-split functionality, peer-to-peer payments, bill pay and other practical utilities.

And finally, and perhaps most distinctly, is Waspit’s social network integration. Integrated with the like of Facebook, FourSquare, Yelp! and others, Waspit is able to deliver what Steggall believes is its true calling card.

“One of the things which came out of the experience we had in the U.K. was student really wanted to be able to manage their funds through Facebook. That was something which was said time and time again,” Steggall said. “It’s something that’s always open, whether it’s on their mobile device or on their computer. It’s something that enables them to quickly communicate with friends.”

Steggall reinforced that Waspit’s social aspects are voluntary, saying “you can be completely as active or inactive as you want,” but said he believes Waspit’s social aspects are helping to bolster its growth.

Despite launching in the U.S. just a few months ago, Waspit already has 5,500 registers users, and has a waiting list of around 16 thousand, according to Steggall. Waspit is currently on 34 colleges in the U.S., and Steggall wants to expand to 60 by the start of next semester.

And college students are clearly not the only ones enthusiastic about Waspit’s potential. The college-targeted prepaid player landed $3 million in funding from private investors on Tuesday, and said it plans to use the funds to “enhance its sales and marketing efforts” as well as focus on additional features.

Interestingly, Steggall said Waspit got its start in the contactless mobile payments industry. That helps to explain why Waspit accounts come with an RFID tag that users can place either on the back of their phones or under the batteries of their phones, depending on the type of device they own. According to Steggall, Waspit is using this as “technology bridge” until contactless payments becomes more prevalent.

“It’s all good and well to create a product that you think someone is going to use,” Steggall said, “but what we said, ‘what is it that these guys want,’ and then we developed the product to meet their want and need.

To hear more Steggall on Waspit background, its social integration and the unique demographic it targets, listen to the podcast below. 

   

*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.


Richard Steggall

CEO of Waspit

Richard is founder and CEO of the interactive social banking platform Waspit. Believing that the emerging habits and trends of today’s students have outgrown the service capabilities of the big banks, Richard set about to better serve this younger demographic. He accomplished this by developing a platform which brings together traditional banking with an interactive feature set, enabling customers to receive, spend and save money in ways never seen before. Prior to founding Waspit, Richard spent 17 years in corporate finance, focusing on the broader IT&T sectors in Europe, Asia and the US.

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