As a co-founder at Choice I am proud to update you on our progress from last year and what this means for our radar in 2019. Last year we kicked off with the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator and successfully secured $1m in non-equity funding from the NEM community fund. To say the least our growth and progress has been rapid since then. New faces, new brand, new partnerships, it is all go at Choice HQ!
The Choice whānau (‘family’-Te Reo Māori) in 2018 grew to six full time contractors, two part time contractors and we even had an intern. This is split between Product, Development, Blockchain, Growth and Leadership. We are fortunate enough to have some immense talent in our team with experience in both global blockchain projects, leading user research firms and past NEM foundation employees.
The product team is led by Samantha Ryan whom previously worked at Optimal Workshop. Optimal is a world leading user experience & research and company that provides tools to leading global firms such as Google and Facebook to monitor users on their digital platforms.
Development is led by Ben Nolan — an absolute wizard in the blockchain world who was an initial developer of the Decentraland project. He now balances his time between architecting payments with purpose at Choice and creating Cryptovoxels, an Ethereum Virtual World.
Growth is being championed by Dalaney Davis who is doing an immense job in scaling Choice to those that matter. After witnessing his talents whilst working for NEM New Zealand and supporting the growth of the NEM community here in Aotearoa we thought he would be a perfect fit for our team. His exemplary standard of work with other NEM community projects such as Origins and his understanding of blockchain meant it was a no brainer to bring him onboard.
We had an intern! Suzana joined us from America whilst she was studying abroad here in Aotearoa — a ball of energy with superpowers in social media, marketing and product. We could not have asked for a better team member during her 6 month stint. Just secretly we are hoping she comes back to NZ one day soon.
Myself and fellow co-founder Fraser McConnell were also proudly welcomed into the third cohort of the Edmund Hilary Fellowship. Sir Edmund Hilary was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer and humanitarian. Along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay they were the first ever to summit Mount Everest.
The fellowship exists as a community of high-impact entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers, collaboratively building solutions to global challenges from Aotearoa New Zealand, and leading the way to a better world.
We are hugely proud to be welcomed into this global community of game changers —feel free to check out our vision for tech for good at the New Frontiers event late last year.
Here’s a snap of the team on our Choicest retreat celebrating the end of 2018.
You may have seen we have a very Choice berry and a splash of yellow in the mix! Our new pallet represents who we are and most importantly what we stand for — People, Planet & Purpose. Going one step further we have taken this and personified our brand with emoji’s so that you can champion Choice on every device ✊🌏💛. So feel free to #✊🌏💛 any time you want to shoutout or see something in the world that is for the people, planet or purpose. p.s. You may ask, can you hashtag emoji’s? You sure can! A little creative genius from the Choice team 😜
We understand here at Choice that our people, our product and our profit come in that order. Every relationship we form comes from our shared kaupapa (‘purpose’-Te Reo Māori). As a first step we are creating a domestic payments ecosystem that will act as our launchpad for testing and growing a globally scalable payments solution.
Choice is creating a bridge between physical payments infrastructure (black payments boxes on counter tops) and the mobile enabled payments future. This means we are working tirelessly to achieve ubiquity and scale. To create a truely ubiquitous payments solution we need to use established distribution channels and bridge the technology gap. In Aotearoa this means we need to partner with the four major banks, the four major terminal providers, charities, small and large business owners and have the people behind us to get us off the ground. The team has been working tirelessly in all aspects and we are building significant momentum. Some highlights from the past 6 months;
- We have been working with the ASB Edge Program, a business innovation unit at one of New Zealand’s four largest banks (also owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia). We are currently working on the next phase of piloting the Choice payments solution using API connectivity to their open banking systems in Q1 2019.
- Terminal integration —at a technical level we have successfully integrated with New Zealand’s largest terminal provider which empowers Choice to be turned on to 70,000 payments terminals across the country. By the end of next month we are working toward have a technical integration with a second provider, enabling 30,000 more terminals to be in the hands of kiwi merchants.
- Merchants — we are in the game of trust and henceforth we are working with some of the largest merchant, retail and hospitality associations across the country to deliver their stakeholders a significantly cheaper and more transparent payments solution. Our network is building with close to 10,000 merchants under the umbrella of our relationships.
- Charities — we have 2x charities signed on for our next proof of concept launch in Wynyard Quarter in Auckland, New Zealand targeted for Q1 2019.
A huge thank you to all of our partners, friends, supporters, and champions on this journey so far. All in good time we will be revealing more detail across the board on our progress for 2019. We are targeting a 2019 launch and have some exciting news to share over the coming months.
Feel free to follow the journey on our social channels below and we look forward to continuing our mission into 2019 and beyond.
Kia māia, (‘be bold and adventurous’-Te Reo Māori)