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Yoyo raises US$5m for mobile payments at universities

EXPANDING: Yoyo says mobile payments service to rollout in more London universities
EXPANDING: Yoyo says mobile payments service will roll out in more London universities

UK-based mobile payments, loyalty and rewards startup Yoyo has raised US$5m to expand its service. The move follows a launch at the Imperial College London campus in January 2014, with further rollouts due to take place at London’s University of Westminster and University of Greenwich.

Yoyo can currently be used by Imperial College’s 20,000 students and staff to make payments at 50 retail outlets, ranging from cafés to student union bars, both on campus and at a number of off-campus outlets.

“We’ve got 5,000 or so registered users now, we’ve got 33-36% daily active user rate, we’re doing in excess of 30,000 transactions per month and things are going very, very well,” Yoyo co-founder Michael Rolph told NFC World+.

“We launched the beta in mid-November last year for a couple of weeks. In the space of two weeks, we went from zero to 200 beta users when we anticipated trying to get 50.

“People just seemed to really latch onto it quite quickly, even though they could only use it in one location. It’s now accepted across the entire campus in Imperial College, and we are going to be rolling out at Westminster University, Greenwich University, and a number of other universities that we will be announcing over the coming months. There will also be some really good announcements about retailers on the high street as well.”

Yoyo describes itself as “a marketing platform for modern retailers, powered by mobile payments” and provides merchants with a suite of marketing tools as well as the ability to accept mobile payments.

To use the service, students download the Yoyo app and link the bank account they will use to load funds onto their Yoyo account. To pay in a store, they swipe their phone’s screen from the bottom to the top to generate a QR code that is scanned by the retailer, using either their own smartphone or a scanner attached to their POS system.

“Universities were a natural starting point for us with a generation of people that are expecting more from their mobile. Then, on the retail side, the one thing the retailer is interested in is their next customer, or the flow, the reach and the ability to get to somebody that looks like they could be their next customer,” Rolph says.

The investment round was led by Imperial Innovations, with co-investments from Firestartr and Telefonica Group.

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