New payment service supports Covid-19 volunteers

An Ealing-based start-up has launched a new payment system so that volunteers shopping for vulnerable people can be reimbursed easily and without exchanging money.

Veeloop is usually focused on providing online payment solutions that are suitable for children.

However, since the outbreak of COVID-19 they have focused their technical know-how to respond to calls from a local volunteering group to create a system that allows volunteers to be paid by card for shopping they do for vulnerable people.

The Veeloop team, based at the Westmont Enterprise Hub, University of West London (UWL) in Ealing borough, started a trial of vHelp in the spring with Mutual Aid groups in North London that will see registered volunteers carry card readers that vulnerable people can use to pay for shopping.

vHelp will repay the volunteer once a receipt has been uploaded, creating an audit trail so that everyone is protected.

The Veeloop team said: “We’re seeing communities coming together to support the vulnerable in our society but without a payment system many volunteers are having to exchange cash, which carries a high risk of contamination.

“We hope this new payment system will become the main payments and records system for volunteers and voluntary organisations supporting vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis in the UK.

Professor Anthony Woodman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UWL, said: “This is a great example of how the businesses UWL supports are finding innovative ways to adapt in lockdown for the benefit of our local community. From consultancy to apprenticeships, recruitment to placements – we’re here to support businesses across west London.”

vHelp has been developed with the help of iZettle, a Paypal service who donated card readers and covered the transaction fees for the pilot; Ignition Law, who helped develop the terms and conditions and privacy policy for the service; SimplyPayMe, who have donated their payment technology to the pilot and ‘Improve my UX’, who are helping Veeloop design the user experience for the app, which will be launched in the coming weeks.