Cashless canteen payments during Covid
Even though today the primary business of Charopy is smart bins connected to the internet that solve the problem of contamination with container deposit scheme recycling collection, we originally started the business working with schools to improve the recycling behaviour of children. So I was interested to hear this week that one of our schools has actually dropped the recycling component of our original program (did not want children bringing in empty drink containers from home), and has repurposed our technology solely to eliminate cash from over the counter transactions in the school canteen (another side effect of current Covid concerns).
Some readers may be unaware, but prior to starting Charopy I was actually the founder of a program now used in around 1,000 schools across Australia. That product is a mobile payments app called Qkr (pronounced 'quicker') and it is sold by the Commonwealth Bank under agreement with Mastercard. What Charopy has managed to do for schools using Qkr is effectively turn what was originally conceived purely as a parent initiated payment app (eg. pre-paid lunch orders), into a program that can now support child initiated payments (eg over-the-counter walk up orders) when paired with technology from Charopy. With all schools looking to reduce potential risks associated with coronavirus transmission, and cash handling being one item on the list of concerns, we have decided to now make this product available to more schools.
To get a glimpse of how this works, take a look at the story Channel Nine News did on Charopy last year. Even though the focus of the story is recycling, and it doesn't show parents adding value to the wristbands using Qkr, it does show children redeeming the value on their wristbands for over the counter items without having to hand over any cash.
Today I no longer have any role with the Qkr app and I don't have any business relationship with Commonwealth Bank, but I am very happy that both organisations continue to support schools around Australia through the ongoing operation of Qkr. It is nice to see something you started continue to deliver benefit to so many customers, even when you personally are no longer involved. Now I'm even more proud that schools have been able to extend this technology to eliminate cash for walk up canteen orders to further reduce the usage of cash within a school environment.
Apart from the standard wristband implementation, we have also enabled cashless payments on a NSW Opal transit card tied Charopy, topped up via Qkr, and then redeemed for food at a school canteen. We can also do custom implementations on selected student cards or other non wristband methods, but it depends on what type of technology is embedded within those cards. We even had it working on an Apple watch at one point, although I can't see that being in too much demand within primary schools.
The canteen or tuck shop is a big part of the school experience for so many children. In an era when the concept of what actually constitutes 'money' will be very different for today's children becoming adults compared to the notes and coins we were so used to, maybe going cashless for walk up orders has even more benefits than just addressing current pandemic related concerns.