Want university students to use your app? Vancouver's nTrust gives them $50k

The University of British Columbia

How do you get 10,000 university students to download your app?

Vancouver-based nTrust hopes giving away $50,000 will be enough to sway young people scraping by on Kraft Dinner and off-brand pop.

The startup is launching a partnership October 27 with a number of Alma Mater Society businesses at the University of B.C. Any student who downloads its cloud-based money transfer app will be able to scan a QR code and receive a $5 credit from one of the merchants.

The company’s Cloud Money platform allows users to load cash and pay for items using their smartphones. Meanwhile, vendors don’t have to use any intermediate equipment, such as a reader or a dongle, to complete transactions.

“The reason why we’re going to universities is the audience there understands what we’re doing,” said nTrust chief operating officer Alan Husejnagic.

One of the biggest hurdles his company has faced when getting people to use digital payment systems is convincing potential users it’s secure.

But most young people already understand that, Husejnagic said, which is why nTrust is counting on 10,000 students to cash in on the company’s money giveaway and then start using the app at other participating merchants across the region.

“It’s actually much safer than any physical medium,” he said, adding crooks that steal a smartphone have to deal with multiple layers of security to access digital funds — a much more difficult prospect than stealing a wallet.

UBC AMS operations director Uli Laue, who is overseeing the roll out from the university’s end, said the campus is a perfect testing ground for the app.

“Students will be brutally honest if it doesn’t work.”

But between tuition and housing costs, Laue said it’s not cheap to be a university student, which is why he believes the app will “spread like wildfire.”

In addition to the $5 giveaway, students using the app also get a 5% discount on items from participating AMS businesses.

Husejnagic said the discounts work for merchants since nTrust charges less than credit card companies when completing transactions and there are no fees tied to any equipment.

“They don’t pay for anything unless we perform.”