It has been a couple of weeks now since I started my Frontier Market Scout summer placement. Unlike most of my fellow classmates and scouts in the program, I haven’t gone very far! In fact, I still find myself in Monterey. This is a little unusual and surprising given the program’s focus on emerging markets and developing countries, however I am lucky to be working with a very exciting company just across the Monterey Bay, in Santa Cruz.

This summer most of my energy will spent contributing to the work of CloudPay. The mission of the company is to fundamentally benefit the local economy and community, by creating a network and partnership amongst the independent businesses, nonprofits and consumers of the Monterey Bay area. CloudPay has created a mobile payment platform, which allows members (customers) to make purchases at participating merchants using their phone. Every time a transaction is made in this way, the usual 3% fee the business usually has to pay to Visa or Mastercard is redirected to a local nonprofit organization of the customers choice. This is such a unique approach to both a community rewards program and a marketing challenge for business owners. The vision is to change the dynamic of the local economy, keeping more money in the region, creating jobs, nonprofit support and increasing the city and county tax revenues.

Before I started, much of the foundational work had already been done. This included building the financial framework, developing the software and testing the concept in the community. Now that has all been done it is time to launch the program. It goes live this week, so it is a an extremely exciting time. In this early stage, the most important component is the merchant network; getting business owners to sign up to participate. What has started has a small handful of stores, is now starting to grow. A lot of my work over the next few weeks will be to get out and pitch the program, get people excited and share the vision. Through much time spent in meetings with business owners over the past couple of weeks, it is fantastic to see how enthusiastic so many people are, and how many support the vision. It is however more difficult to get them to be amongst the ‘first in’ ¬†of the CloudPay network, and actually sign up. But as the 2nd week in July begins, the venture is gaining traction, and before long, customers and retailers that care, will be starting to make valuable contributions to Santa Cruz community simply through their every day spending and purchases.

I am thrilled to be a part of this, and to be involved at the most critical stage. It will be an amazing experience to learn, and to contribute to a terrific enterprise. I look forward to sharing updates over the next few weeks!