A Watershed moment for Bristol Pound

Posted on Mon 8 Jul 2013
Woman using a phone to make a £B payment at Watershed Bar

Here at Watershed we are very proud of our city and we do everything we can to promote and support the plethora of innovation and new ideas that spring forth from it. Bristol’s local currency the Bristol Pound - a great innovation designed to boost independent business in the city - is one of Bristol’s brightest ideas, and we are delighted to announce that we are now accepting £B’s in the Café/Bar and at Box Office.

Being Watershed our approach to accepting the £B has taken us on a journey of discovery and opportunity. It has taken us a while to get to this point because we were a little concerned about the impact it would have on our customer service, but thankfully our wonderfully talented ICT team have adapted a couple of bits and pieces of the system to suit our way of doing things.

We were mostly concerned about receiving TXT2PAY payments: our bar is very long and with one £B mobile phone to confirm payments we were worried about the inconvenience of having to wait for a phone to check payment, and also the possibility that it might get lost or damaged. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, Oliver and Stewart from our ICT department ably got to work on developing a solution with Bristol Pound and Bristol Credit Union. 

We now have some new software and neat boxes that we can position next to each of our tills which directly access our £B online account, retrieve payment directly and display the payments that customers make via TXT2PAY. This means there is no need for our staff to go looking for the phone to check the texts - which on a busy night will go a long way to helping things run smoothly!

We are more than happy to share our discoveries with other £B businesses - anything that can make things smoother for all our customers across Bristol has to be a good thing. Just drop us an email and we’ll get back to you with all the information.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said;

Watershed has always been at the forefront of supporting new ideas, local talent and local business so it’s absolutely in character that it has signed up to take Bristol Pounds. I hope that other such organisations and businesses will take up their offer to share learning so that we can continue to encourage the use of Bristol Pounds to build our local economy.

Louise Gardner, Watershed’s Head of Communications said:

Accepting Bristol’s currency has been a priority for us here at Watershed, but to enable it to happen we had to have total confidence in our ability to maintain our customer service. We did things a little differently and it has taken three months to get here, but we are looking forward to sharing our learning and solutions with fellow Bristol businesses.

For those of you who are a tad more technically minded here’s what Oliver Humpage, Watershed’s Head of ICT, had to say about what he and Stewart had done:

We worked closely with Bristol Pound and Bristol Credit Union to be able to interface directly with their system’s API and pick up TXT2PAY payments. We then developed a rugged, compact and low power box based on a Raspberry Pi to sit by the bar tills and receive payments. Staff can hit refresh to pick up new payments, or scroll through the previous payments.

As part of the process Oliver joined Bristol Hackspace and has been trained on using their laser cutter (to make the tops of the displays) and Stewart has reacquainted himself with his electronics degree to build the circuitry.

 Inner workings of some computer technology

Ciaran Mundy, Bristol Pound Director:

"It is an important move for Watershed to accept the Bristol Pound, as the scheme is designed to support the independent businesses at the heart of communities across the city and is a major factor in making Bristol a great place to live and work.   Bristol has a global reputation for its art and culture scene and Watershed has been a central player in that development. It can now help fly the flag for the independent sector too.  We’re delighted that they’ve jumped on board with so much enthusiasm.”

With over six hundred businesses now using the Bristol Pound, many of them trading the currency electronically using TXT2PAY and online banking software, over 1,200 Bristol Pound account holders and more than £200,000 converted from sterling into Bristol Pounds, the local currency is becoming part of the fabric of the city. The Bristol Pound supports locally owned independent businesses, helps to build strong communities and a fairer, greener economy.