This Cork-based start-up is helping peer-to-peer online merchants inspire consumer confidence with an escrow-style payment app.
Shopping online can be a high-risk business for your wallet. As more and more merchants go online, scammers are also looking for quick wins from faceless consumers. While there are benefits to e-commerce technology that gives anyone the power to trade online, there are growing risks that businesses and consumers have to contend with.
Helping to protect our online shopping is the Cork company Trustap. “Trustap is a secure transaction platform that fully protects you from scams when you want to buy or sell with someone you don’t know,” explained CEO and founder Conor Lyden.
“Whether you are buying a watch from someone on Facebook or selling a car on a marketplace, Trustap can ensure that the transaction is done safely, efficiently and fairly for everyone involved.”
“We want to become the standard for buying or selling with people you don’t know and can’t trust”
– CONOR LYDEN
With consumer awareness driving an increase in online second-hand trading, the time couldn’t be better for a service like Trustap.
Its platform combines payments (powered by Stripe) with a transaction management system: when making a purchase with Trustap, the buyer’s money is kept in a secure account until all stages of the transaction are fulfilled. This could be, for example, that the seller has shipped the item and entered the tracking details within a set time limit. Once the shipment has been delivered and a claim period has elapsed, payment is released to the seller.
The platform is widely compatible across all devices and can also be used for in-person transactions, in which case the money is released once the handover is confirmed.
In addition to its own apps, Trustap is available as an end-to-end payment tool for marketplaces. It is also capable of processing transactions in multiple currencies and through various payment methods.
“There are a number of payment platforms in recent years that have gained popularity for their slick interfaces and the ease with which they can be used to send money between friends and family,” Lyden said. “At Trustap, we want to become the standard for buying or selling with people you don’t know and can’t trust.”
Rising consumer confidence in digital transactions is not the only recent phenomenon supporting Trustap’s success.
“We have been very fortunate as a company that the pandemic has affected a huge acceleration in digital adoption,” Lyden said. “As companies adapt their business model to facilitate online transactions, he has created various partnerships for us, including Preloved.”
Preamated is a major second-hand online marketplace in the UK, with a user base of 9 million. Trustap is now integrated directly into Preloved, giving these millions of users a little more confidence when they shop.
“When I started my business I had support available that would not have been around 10 years ago”
– CONOR LYDEN
A first-time founder, Lyden developed the initial concept of Trustap while studying at University College Cork (UCC). He graduated in 2016 with a degree in civil engineering and the desire to establish himself as an entrepreneur. This led him to turn on, a UCC graduate business incubator.
“From there, the idea became a business and the growth started after we left Ignite and started working on the product,” Lyden said.
Trustap was officially founded in 2017 and Lyden went on to participate in an acceleration program in Austin, Texas and started creating a stir as a young entrepreneur to watch.
“The biggest challenge for me as CEO of Trustap, especially in the very early stages, was to become as knowledgeable as possible in every part of the business,” he said. “In a start-up, you need to know about sales, marketing, finance, human resources and any technical issues just as you know your particular product or service.”
Returning to his native Cork and continuing to hone his skills, Lyden attended CorkBIC 2019 Safety accelerator where Trustap was named Most Investable Company.
Investors have taken note of this, with over € 2 million of initial funding guaranteed for the company. His early investors include Enterprise Ireland and fellow Cork entrepreneur Liam Casey, who was also an early investor in Stripe.
With this funding in place, Lyden is now grow the team and preparing the company for international markets, but Cork is the heart and headquarters of the company.
After doubling in size within a year, the company has opened a new office on St Patrick’s Quay in Cork City. It also operates in centers in the UK, Croatia and the US.
Lyden said she finds that the start-up scene she is in has “improved dramatically” in recent years, revealing yet another way it has been blessed with good timing.
“I’m lucky there was media available to me when I was starting my business that wouldn’t have been around 10 years ago,” he said.
“I think Cork City and Ireland, despite these advances, can still do much more to encourage third-tier entrepreneurship and create an environment where bright young people genuinely see it as a career path,” he said. added.
The immediate plan for Trustap is to secure more partnerships with online classified markets such as Preloved. Specifically, those who don’t have the resources to build something like Trustap in-house.
Lyden also hopes to close the year with a € 10 million Serie A round, allowing for further expansion and realization of his plans to bring his squad to 50 people.
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