Clipp brings ​'Uber for bar tabs' to a night on the town

A new mobile app developed in Australia is changing the way revellers set up a tab in their local bar, letting them "leave like a rockstar" without having to worry about their credit card.

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Clipp allows bar patrons to control their bar tab via smartphone, without a credit card changing hands. Clipp

In less than two months, all credit card users in Australia will be required to enter a PIN for their transactions. While this is big news for retail, one Australian app developer has seen a gap in the market, releasing an app that has the potential to change the whole experience of a night out.

Described as the Uber of bar tabs, Clipp allows drinkers to set up a tab linked to their credit card (with an option to set a limit) that can then be shared among multiple app users in the same party. When the night is over, the user just closes off the tab on their smartphone without queueing at the bar to sign a bill or get their card back.

"I think everyone can relate to the fact that they've done the walk of shame, thinking 'Where's my credit card after I went out last night?'," said the entrepreneur behind Clipp, Greg Taylor. "But there's also a security issue around that because you're leaving two very important points of ID with the venue or with the bar -- your driver's license and your credit card."

It's not the first app that Taylor has worked on -- his team previously worked on the now-popular eCoffeeCard, an app that ditches cardboard coffee loyalty cards and allows customers and businesses to benefit from a quick and easy way to earn free coffees.

As with the eCoffeeCard app, Taylor said Clipp was about solving problems on multiple fronts -- something that not all apps successfully do.

"There are so many apps out there that are a solution to no problem," he said. "With Clipp we have three customers: we've got the point-of-sale company, the venue and then the end consumer. So it's really important to identify a problem with each one of those channels and then work out how you can solve it.

"From a corporate point of view, they have the ability to track and record expenses. At the venue level, with the setting up of the tab and the closing of the tab each time, [bar staff] are obviously not serving customers."

As far as customers are concerned, the words of one Clipp user say it all.

"One person left a comment saying...'You leave like a rockstar'," said Taylor. "There's nothing less gratifying than getting up to pay your bill when the bar's three deep at the end of the night. The lights are on and you just want to get out of there!

"[Clipp] is similar to Uber...there's no payment, there's no credit card, you just get up and leave. It just creates that very seamless end-to-end experience."

But while a great experience is one thing, on August 1 this year there will be an even more powerful motivator as PIN security becomes compulsory for all Australian credit card transactions.

"From a venue's perspective, the risk profile of tabs come August 1 increases exponentially," said Taylor. "Most venues have 2 or 3 cards left behind the bar every night, but your big venues could have 10, 20 or 30 cards left behind. So if people don't come back, then that's money [venues] will never actually get."

According to Taylor, the PIN switchover has been an "incredible" driver for venue uptake of the Clipp platform. But the ability to track consumer spend and then reward patrons with individually-targeted loyalty deals also has its merits -- Taylor describes it as a 'frequent flyer' system for bars.

Clipp is already set up in 130 venues across Australia with a further 100 that are about to go live, and the app is available for free from the App Store and Google Play. But while he has two successful apps under his belt now with the eCoffeeCard and Clipp, Taylor is not putting his developer hat back on just yet.

"You always have ideas," he said. "But the key to making them work is putting all of your focus into one to do it right."

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Mobile Apps
About the author

Claire Reilly is CNET's news writer, based in Sydney, Australia. When she's not breaking stories, she's a part-time Simpsons guru, hair metal enthusiast and blue cheese aficionado.

 

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