Story and Photos by Julia Pelish
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — “Vision is always ahead of traction,” observes Alan Husejnagic. And the vision of the chief operating officer of nTrust is that people will no longer need to carry a wallet. Technology advances in smartphone capabilities and the rapid transition to digital payment methods has altered consumer behaviour, spurring the birth of Vancouver-based nTrust, a company whose peer-to-peer money-transfer platform uses a unique social networking concept called “neighbourhoods” to move cash from one cloud-based account to another.
The inaugural event for this method of cloud payment was at the June 26th Sunset Beach Social, a gathering to celebrate beach culture while enjoying some of Vancouver’s best gourmet food trucks, which were ready to accept customer’s nTrust transfers. Customers loaded details from their banking accounts into the nTrust application. Instead of having to use debit cards, they could simply pay with their phone, transferring money from their account to the account of the food-truck vendor. The payment shows up instantly and there are no debit-card fees.
Whether the public will want to store (and access) their banking and credit-card information in a cloud system may be a hurdle for nTrust. But I gave it a shot, signing up online to create my account before I left for my beach party evening. It was free and the process was simple. Now I was ready to make transactions with my “neighbours” who I knew I would find at the Sunset Beach Social, where nTrust was on-site, greeting arrivals with a welcome gift of $5 of tapped love from their cloud account to yours. Although the vendors also accepted traditional payment methods, it was interesting and extremely convenient to use my cell phone to pay for the food I sampled. The hard part was figuring out at which food truck to start my tasting pilgrimage. So many excellent choices, but I knew my compass was set correctly when I saw Yolk’s truck. (I ordered beignets topped with salt caramel — delish!)
A New Form of Payment Travellers May Like
The first nTrust event seemed like it was going to be spoiled by inclement weather and, yes, some of the advertised activities were cancelled; however, as the evening drew on the rain clouds swept out over the mountains rewarding the beachcombers who did arrive with a gorgeous skyscape.
I spoke with Husejnagic at the event to learn more about the company. nTrust began in 2011, is licensed and regulated like a bank, has 35 employees and 45,000 members who have already joined. Those members can securely upload money on the go from their bank into their cloud account and transfer it to other members (neighbours) without incurring fees. The company’s website says its system “uses the highest level of encryption, which meets or exceeds every known international banking standard.”
Merchants are happy too as transaction fees are a low 1% per sale, benefitting small mom-and-pop businesses, in particular. For the traveller the cashless method has special benefits too, allowing members to upload and convert their funds to local currencies before leaving home, saving them both money and worries. At the moment nTrust supports six currencies.
A company spokesman told me today that “innovations are on the way for virtual and physical payment technology with MasterCard credit card” that will be announced this month. Presently the system is a web-based app but come September apps will be released for iPhone and Android platforms.
On Friday, August 29, the last Sunset Beach Social event of the summer takes place and nTrust will be there again. Fifteen of Vancouver’s most popular food trucks will be participating. No matter who you are, this late summer shindig has something for everyone: an art market, roller disco and live music. With nTrust, there’s also a chance to try out a new form of convenience that could just be a match for your lifestyle.
MORE ABOUT SUNSET BEACH SOCIAL
Location: Sunset Beach, Vancouver, BC (see map below)
Date: August 15, 5-9 pm
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/events/527327017373299
More About nTrust: Visit the company’s website to learn more details, understand the fees and discover other information you will want to know before signing up.