Strikepay: Hitting the mark with cashless tech for tips and more

13 Dec 2021

Strikepay founders Charles Dowd and Oli Cavanagh. Image: Strikepay

Strikepay’s system aims to enable cashless tipping, donations and in-person payments with a low barrier to entry.

Many death knells have been rung for the reign of cash as king, but a recent signifier sounded from the Central Bank of Ireland’s statistics on payments in 2020. Overall, people in Ireland made fewer ATM cash withdrawals throughout a year of being prudent about what we touch and pass on to one another. Cards became the payment method of choice, helped along by a larger contactless allowance in a Covid-conscious world.

This trend will likely have continued in 2021, but with the demise of cash comes a drop-off in tips and donations, as well as challenges for those who rely on in-person payments outside of bricks-and-mortar retail.

Irish start-up Strikepay aims to tackle all three of these problems with its patent-pending technology. “Anyone with a phone can now tap to tip, tap to donate, and tap to pay anyone without the need to install an app,” said co-founder Oli Cavanagh.

‘Anyone who wants to take a payment can sign up and be accepting payments in minutes’

When it started in 2020, Strikepay was focused on just the tipping element of its service, and Cavanagh said it was quickly successful in this segment. Moving into donations, it has partnered with Make A Wish, the Marie Keating Foundation, UNICEF and more in less than a year.

The third prong of its business provides a cashless and contactless payments service to tradespeople and sellers on buy-and-sell platforms such as DoneDeal and With a Strikepay card, they can accept payments via Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Growth across all three services has been “rapid”, according to Cavanagh, who attributed this to the timing of bringing such technology to the market.

“We signed up almost 600 businesses in the first six months from launch. Most of these are in the hospitality and services sectors,” he said. “Many of the barbers, hair and beauty salons in Dublin use Strikepay, and a lot of cafés, bars and restaurants in Ireland.”

Strikepay’s platform uses NFC and QR codes as payment points. Key to the model is its simple and swift set-up. “Anyone who wants to take a payment can sign up and be accepting payments in minutes,” said Cavanagh. “[There’s] no app to install, no complicated application process and no integration required.” Strikepay also ensures successful onboarding via its in-house development team.

While already emerging as a market leader in Ireland, Strikepay is actively expanding into the UK and across Europe, while trials are already live in the US. Growth in new markets can come quickly through acquisitions, and Strikepay has taken this path into the UK through Gratsi, a rival start-up it acquired this summer.

“The platform is built to solve problems that are applicable in potentially every market in the world,” said Cavanagh, giving voice to Strikepay’s global goals.

‘We need to move really quickly but without breaking things, because we impact people’s livelihoods’

The confidence with which Strikepay has taken to the market is the kind that comes from two experienced entrepreneurs at the helm. CEO Cavanagh and co-founder Charles Dowd have started multiple tech companies between them, including others in the fintech space.

Cavanagh saw successful exits with AllDataSystems and CI Solutions before taking up senior roles at BriteBill and ChangingWorlds – both of which were also acquired. He later went on to co-found peer-to-peer finance platform Flender.

Dowd, who is chief product officer at Strikepay, co-founded and sold Travelonomy, a travel accommodation marketplace, before joining Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ. He later set out with a new venture in money messaging app Plynk – which, along with Flender, was a 2017 Start-up of the Week.

The serial entrepreneurs make no secret that some ventures are more successful than others, but they do believe they’re hitting the right note with Strikepay.

“The problem we’re solving impacts real people. This is greatly rewarding, but also creates real challenges,” said Cavanagh. “We need to move really quickly to make sure we solve the whole problem but we have to do that without breaking things, because we impact people’s livelihoods.”

Moving at such a rapid clip can make staying on track a challenge. “We have so many opportunities coming our way, it’s hard to say no. And product-market-fit doesn’t all come together at once. It’s very specific to each vertical, even a sub-vertical. It took us a little time to spot nuances and how to leverage those to help us get focus,” said Cavanagh.

All told, Strikepay is going into the new year ready for fresh investment. “We were oversubscribed for our pre-seed round at the beginning of the year and have been roll-closing a SAFE note investment round in the last few months, which is going very well,” said Cavanagh. “The SAFE investment provides a discount on our Series A round next year and new investors are very welcome.”

Earlier this month, the National Startup Awards recognised Strikepay’s potential with the Startup of the Year award, having also singled it out in the fintech category.

“Ireland, especially Dublin, is a real hotbed for payments and financial technology companies,” said Cavanagh. “[We] are really happy to be part of it.”

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.