“Sorry, just a minute… it’s here somewhere” you mutter to the cashier, scrambling around, searching for a discount voucher. You know it is in the bottom of your bag, between the study books and laptop. Embarrassed, you ask for a student discount, but nevertheless, money is tight.
It’s a scenario most students can relate to — even more so due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout 2020, students’ savings have been impacted as they have largely been unable to work alongside their studies. Additionally, Gen Z and Millennials increasingly expect services to be instant and readily accessible through their handheld devices.
It goes without saying, that a secure rewards app allowing users to be instantly paid back a significant part of what they spend every time they use their bank card, would be a welcome change. Not only that, an app that enables users to earn real money when they make purchases without having to say, show or scan their device.
This is exactly the app Fygo, a Fintech start-up built by University graduates and backed by Charles Wigoder, founder and executive chairman of telecom plus plc, a FTSE-250 company, has built, supported by our experts in data protection and security services at Evalian. By using the secure, instant cashback app, students and staff in Durham can now turn any of their normal bank cards into a rewards card when making purchases from local businesses either in store or online.
So who are Fygo? How secure is the app, and how does it help local SMEs achieve profits during such an unsettling time?
Who are Fygo?
Fygo was born out of a previous project, Saintpass, which brothers Toby and Jonah Lowenstein released during their second year at the University of St Andrews. Having interviewed over 100 merchants and students, the Lowenstein brothers noticed that local businesses felt neglected by national loyalty and rewards schemes and didn’t have the time or the technical know-how to attract students in the digital age. Saintpass was designed as the trusted voice of students for students, marketing local businesses across websites and social platforms that they wouldn’t have been able to make themselves.
Fygo’s third co-founder, Ben, met Jonah in late 2019. With Ben’s passion to find a workable tech solution, a keen eye for operations, and a history of successfully bootstrapping online businesses, the three set out to found a new venture. Returning to London in early March 2020 as news of the pandemic broke, the trio were eager to improve upon several things from the brothers’ Saintpass project. With the effects of Covid-19 threatening both businesses’ and students’ finances, the trio wanted to create a scalable proposition that could catalyse the recovery of local economies across the UK during and in the aftermath of the pandemic.
A story not dissimilar to Evalian’s own, created from identifying a need and taking a real world approach in providing solutions to businesses. Evalian was founded by Sean Huggett — a qualified barrister. Having been called to the Bar in 1998 and starting a career as an in-house lawyer, he later progressed to commercial leadership roles before specialising in governance, risk and compliance with a focus on privacy and security.
When GDPR came into force, fear and consumption was generally the adopted approach. Sean wanted a business focused on pragmatism and proportionality and so Evalian was established. At Evalian we promise open communication, relationships built on respect, honesty and a strong work ethic with no hard sell. That is why we work with companies such as Fygo, who are committed in their approach to compliance, no matter the size of the company, the principles remain the same.
How does the Fygo app work?
After linking their bank to the app through a secure interface, students and staff can earn real money when they make purchases. Fygo is constantly improving its personalised experience by using machine learning, ensuring users make purchases they enjoy, and helping local SMEs reach the perfect customer at the perfect moment. Fygo has also made it easy to share offers with friends, the first step towards making purchases fun, convenient, and social.
Is it secure?
Absolutely. Some apps use ‘screen scraping’, which involves you giving them your login details and password. With Open Banking apps, such as Fygo, you’re never asked to share your password or login details with anyone other than your own bank or building society. It’s simple, safe and secure.
Before joining Evalian as a Data Protection Lawyer, Ray Orife was in-house counsel and DPO for a large high street financial services organisation. He explains the benefits of open Banking and the necessity for protecting customers’ data:
“Open banking presents an opportunity to financial services organisations that are willing to embrace it but also to those keen to learn its benefits and capitalise on the innovation it brings. In the ever-changing world of retail, it is important for businesses and consumers to seek new experiences — open banking allows this. That said, with the vast amount of data involved and complexity of processing, it is imperative that there is absolute transparency for individuals using these services and that their information is treated with utmost care.“
As a tech start-up company processing sensitive personal data, Fygo considered data implications of its project from the outset. The apps technical security was developed and implemented by Evalian. This protection is also complemented by a suite of Data Protection and Information Security policies and procedures. Collectively, they demonstrate a high level of compliance maturity, both technically and organisationally.
Board level buy-in was a key factor in the success of the compliance project. The importance of protecting the personal data of customers and merchants was acknowledged and promoted by all key stakeholders.
“Fygo continue to make full use of our Data Protection Training Portal. This ensures all company employees, consultants and contractors are aware of their obligations regarding the processing of personal data.” said Neil Scott, Data Protection Consultant at Evalian.
How does it help SMEs?
“Covid-19 has been devastating for local businesses’ revenue and consumer confidence has fallen significantly. Businesses use Fygo to acquire new customers and increase their revenue simply, and at a low, easily-trackable cost” said Toby Lowenstein, Co-Founder at Fygo.
Not only are the current digital marketing, print advertising and loyalty solutions on offer time-consuming, but they are expensive and confusing to use, and are unable to exactly measure the turnover they generate. Fygo is an easy and solid solution for the thousands of businesses unable to track the impact of their current marketing and rewards.
Simplicity is at the heart of Fygo’s innovation for merchants. The Fygo app tracks purchases by linking with users’ banks. This means businesses don’t have to update their systems, train staff or pay up front costs. Not only that, but any business can partner with Fygo for free online and get featured on the app immediately.
The innovative app provides its merchants with insights (such as access to anonymised customer analytics) to help them better understand their customers. It also helps improve their services and products and understand their competitive positioning.
“With Fygo’s launch, we’re excited to take our first step towards making student purchases rewarding, convenient, personalised, and social” said Jonah Lowenstein, Co-founder at Fygo.
In response to the Covid lockdown, Fygo is offering any business operating in Durham a two-month money-back guarantee on Fygo fees if they are not happy with their results, as well as providing photographers to new partner businesses on a complimentary basis, so they can market them with great pictures.
Protecting data within a consumer environment is essential. Thanks to both Fygo’s compliance maturity and the technical security provided by Evalian, Fygo’s offering is not only a solid, secure choice for students and businesses alike but a no-brainer in terms of instant results and rewards.
As a specialist data protection consultancy, Evalian is well placed to help you feel confident moving forward. Whether you need support carrying out a gap analysis or some quick pointers on how you can meet your consumers’ needs in an ever changing data protection landscape, then get in touch. We can steer you in the right direction or, if you need help, we can assist at every level.