We’re all familiar with the typical home delivery takeaway apps like Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and Just Eat. These are services that have become effortlessly part of our lives.
We’ve also heard of local currencies popping up in various parts of the UK, like the Bristol pound. Cryptocurrencies are almost mainstream. So, what happens if you combine all three? You get Peepl Eats.
Peepl Eats is a food delivery company created by Zarino Zappia, Phil Halpin and Leon Rossiter. It runs on the cryptocurrency network Fuse and has recently received a £1.1 million investment from the combined authority of Liverpool through the government’s £4.6 billion grant scheme of emergency funding for the hospitality sector.
They created the app due to a series of problems they saw in current delivery services and how they dealt with small businesses. For the trio, this is more than just supporting the local area. It’s about taking on the financial system.
They claim to be a more ethical and sustainable version of Deliveroo. Deliveroo and Uber Eats take around 30% of all orders, according to The Gazette. Peepl Eats plan to take around £30 to £50 from the business if it makes £1,000.
“Our target was to put to have across the board, the average restaurant pay was £18 a month, you know, with the target of getting to 1,000 restaurants as 18,000 a month. So that’s not too, too bad for [the] long term,” Leon says.
The big question is, how is this a feasible business model? The main reason for this is Fuse, which is the network that Peepl tokens run on. Companies like Visa and Mastercard transactions cost either 0.1 to 0.2% per transaction, with some local shops being charged 0.5% and even 3%, however Fuse only charges a cent for each transaction.
“If you spend a pound locally, 60p stays in your local economy. Whereas if you spend it in Costa [for example] 30p will stay in the local economy”
The business is still very much in its infancy, with a few pilot areas appearing in January 2021. Through the government kickstart scheme, they are planning to employ around four full-time employees.
Where did the idea for Peepl Eats come from? About seven years ago, a project called Independent Liverpool was created. Where 10 people who knew each other could create a gift to make somewhere more awesome. This is where Leon learnt some surprising economics.
“If you spend a pound locally, 60p stays in your local economy. Whereas if you spend it in Costa [for example] 30p will stay in the local economy,” says Leon.
At one point, he worked for a company that worked on SEO optimisation, where he learnt how to manipulate Google and Facebook algorithms.
“You see a lot of manipulation going on in the world with big tech, and with big business, like Costa and stuff, I’d say that definitely led my interest in this sort of area,” he says.
Eventually, his interest led him to local currencies. “I contacted a company in Tel Aviv, Israel, working on the Coloured Coins project, which was the first project to use the Bitcoin blockchain to move assets other than money.
“And I said, ‘can we take your technology because it sounds great? And we can create our own independent Liverpool pound.’ And then they said that there were not really ready for that and that the technology really wasn’t ready because it was very slow, in terms of like, 10-15 seconds for transactions even longer sometimes,” Leon told us.
“At the same time, they had this company called Colu. And that raised $9 million (£6.4m) to do local digital currencies, and we got that up to 35,000 people on the app [because] 420 local businesses accepted it.
“I think our peak weekly active users was maybe 3,500 people a week, which isn’t bad, but the product didn’t evolve. And people had a problem with the fact that it was from Tel Aviv. And yeah, there was a number of issues [as to] why that business and product didn’t succeed. That led to this underlying technology of Peepl.”
“If everybody around you were a bit wealthier, then that would be good for you. Because you’d be walking around in a clean neighbourhood where lots of people were happy.”
For the trio, it’s much more than just a delivery project. “I was lucky enough to get a £70k per year salary at Colu. Once that for like, three or four months, I just thought, bloody hell, if I could earn that for the rest of my life, I could have such an amazing life,” Leon says.
“If the wealth is more distributed in local communities, and if everybody around you were a bit wealthier, then that would be good for you. Because you’d be walking around in a clean neighbourhood where lots of people were happy.”
They go on to speak about universal basic income: “We have a system that is biased against the most desperate and needy people in society [and it’s getting] worse and worse and worse over time; it could be a two-way thing like people are getting supported with that local currency because then they’ve got that local currency, which means they can only spend in places that benefit the local community in the local economy, which is really interesting,” Zarino says.
The money invested by the combined authority of Liverpool is being put to good use. £400,000 is a convertible loan note. If the combined authority is happy with the scheme, that money will become an investment into Peepl Ltd, meaning that the combined authority of Liverpool will own 4-6% of the company.
Meanwhile £600,000 will be granted for the customers, giving people around six to seven pounds to be used in the app when people use it for the first time.
They plan on using the last £100,000 on other experiments to do with universal basic income, including two £50,000 pilots that last six months to give people £10 a week to spend on Peepl Eats. If the money isn’t spent, it’s then put into a pot where people can vote on what happens to the money.
“I think Liverpool has the rabble-rousing rebellious credentials to spawn something like this.”
The app doesn’t use pounds as the currency to make purchases. The reason for this is that as more people join, the currency will gain in value. This started from an investment that Leon made at one point.
“I put £600 into a token called Stratis two years ago. Then it grew a bit. I put it into a couple of other coins. My £600 investment in one particular coin was worth £55,000. When you have that experience, it was based on absolute total bullshit because no project then had any utility or value. They just had potential for future value. A bubble happened, and the market went crazy,” Leon said.
The technology behind the app is completely open-source. “The idea of our technology and having a store of value and a currency that’s immutable that’s tied to our technology. You can give that to entrepreneurs in other cities who can see the potential of what we’re doing. And you can give it all away for nothing. No monthly cost or having to deal with financial regulation,” Leon says.
The future of Peepl should be treated with a certain amount of scepticism because the business is still in its infancy. It’s hard to really tell if the business will succeed, especially with its unique currency.
As Phil says: “I think Liverpool has the rabble-rousing rebellious credentials to spawn something like this. It’s pretty much a country in its own right. People talk about themselves being Scouse, not English. They see themselves as very distinct from the rest of the UK.”
Featured image by Marco Verch via Flickr CC.
Edited by Sophie Victoria Brown, Jussi Grut and Darnell Christie.