The startup founder finding meaning in tap and go transactions
Fri 21 September 2018 - 3:04 pmEntrepreneur | Featured
ImpactPay will give all Australians the opportunity to find meaning in their tap-and-go card transactions. Through a new smart digital wallet, users can accomplish humanitarian change, drive breakthroughs in healthcare, deliver global education and support local initiatives every time they make a purchase.
ImpactPay founders, Adam and Regina Levine, saw an opportunity to tap into the collective power of micro-giving; developing a platform that enables Australians to support the causes of their choosing with each payment or transaction, using this world-first debit card.
“More than 577 billion non-cash transactions take place every year; what if we could harness that to do good? It’s second nature for us all to use our debit cards without thinking twice, however, there is more to money than just spending,” says Levine.
“We want all Australians to have access to a payment platform that allows them to make a difference in the world. The gesture of giving as little as 10 cents for every tap is effortless and if we can amplify that and combine everyone’s 10 cents, we can change the world.”
ImpactPay issues users (tribe members) with a pre-paid debit card powered by Mastercard and a smart wallet app integrated into their mobile phones. The platform is inspired by blockchain technology; providing enhanced transparency so users know that donations go directly to the projects they choose to support.
A ‘Be Good & Do Good’ philosophy sits behind the new venture; encouraging tribe members to Be Good with their money and take control of their weekly spending budget, as well as Do Good by making a positive social impact via their daily transactions and purchases.
Dynamic Business had a chat with Adam Levine about his new venture.
What makes you passionate about making social change?
The desire to create social change is deeply engrained in the DNA of myself and my wife, and co-founder of ImpactPay, Regina.
We come from simple backgrounds, but also from families who have experienced significant challenges, and this is core to what motivates us. In particular, Regina’s childhood as a political refugee, arriving from the USSR when she was just nine years old, and my own heritage – my grandparents were holocaust survivors. Knowing that we are only here, enjoying the life we live, because people were prepared to provide help, safety and support during times of need, is what drives us to want to give back and make a difference in people’s lives.
How can businesses make profit while also doing good?
The way businesses can both make a profit and do good is by ensuring the right balance between treating their customers and employees with respect and integrity, while still returning value to shareholders and other stakeholders.
As a social enterprise, we contribute to the collective good as a not-for-profit does, but through profit and reinvestment we can implement new business models, innovate and embrace new technology.
Can you tell us how ImpactPay came about and explain the platform a bit further? What inspired you to create it?
After years of giving to the causes we’re passionate about, Regina and I were also fed up with street chuggers, lagging technology and inefficient fundraising practices. We saw an opportunity to revolutionise the philanthropy sector.
With my background in the not-for-profit sector, regulated financial businesses, wealth management firms and fiduciary-based social ventures, this combination of financial services and philanthropy sparked the idea for ImpactPay.
We saw an opportunity to combine the untapped potential of everyday payment transactions with the power of micro-giving to add meaning to the way Australian’s use their debit cards.
It’s a simple concept; if everyone gave just 10 cents with each transaction, there would be more than $57.7 billion dollars each year to address hunger, enable each child to access education and protect the planet.
The result is a prepaid debit card, linked to a mobile platform which gives users choice, and the means, to support causes close to their heart in a way that suits them.
What kind of impact do you plan to create?
The impact we’re looking to make is to democratise the giving process. To make giving accessible to everybody, no matter how much they can afford to give, and create a society-wide behavioural change where we all give small amounts, every day with a common goal – to be better humans.
Our number one KPI as a business is to get to a position where our tribe has donated one million dollars, and then grow to a point where we candonate one million dollars, per month, to the causes on our platform and, ultimately, change the world.
Do you find that being a founder of a social enterprise has made things more difficult than a founder of a standard business?
No, I’ve found it has been easier. From the moment the idea was conceived, we have found that everybody, from partners to service providers, have wanted to be involved and gone above and beyond for the platform. Everybody we talk to or work with knows ImpactPay is coming from a good place.
We are honest and open about the fact that we are a for-profit social venture, but we plan to reinvest profits back into the platform to show leadership in the giving space. With that good intention, and our drive to change the industry, everyone’s jumping on board.
How long has this social venture been in the pipeline for?
Regina and I have been working on ImpactPay for 11 months, from concept to launch. It’s been exciting, challenging and rewarding – the typical start-up.
How did you receive the funding to get started up?
This is a passion project – Regina and I are personally funding ImpactPay. As entrepreneurs, we are fortunate that we can deploy capital from our other social and business ventures.
Have you had previous business experience?
Yes, I am an entrepreneurial lawyer, principal investor and advisor with over 25 years’ experience as a business leader. During my career to-date, I have worked for multinational law firms and investment banks. Both my more recent financial endeavours have been focused on fiduciary-based financial and legal services businesses that I have either founded or acquired and have built into successful national organisations.
What has been your biggest hurdle so far and how did you get through it?
The biggest hurdle so far has been understanding the detail of the cutting edge and robust technology that sits behind the ImpactPay platform – the granular aspects of the technology are very complex.
Regina and I have overcome this through a lot of reading, self-learning and working with a number of skilled app developers. Additionally, given the fact ImpactPay is a financial product, we have to ensure we are careful in everything we do and that our governance and systems are very robust.
The biggest milestone for me, so far, was just this weekend when I woke up and one of our employees had reposted an ImpactPay video on their LinkedIn.
It was quite emotional because the realisation sunk in that this is finally happening. It was also the thought that someone in our team and someone standing alongside Regina and I had the courage to say, “I’m proud” and “I’m associated with ImpactPay”.