Video: ChangeJar founder Tom Camps not satisfied with chump change

'If we’re not the next PayPal, if we’re not the next Visa, we kind of failed'

For three years, Ottawa-based ChangeJar has been on a quest for change. Not just for the spare coins jingling in your pocket, founder and CEO Tom Camps told Techopia Live, but to truly overhaul the way you pay for coffees and any of the other 6.5 billion cash transactions in Canada each year.

“The opportunity we’re pursuing is huge,” Camps says. “This business can't be a lifestyle business … If we’re not the next PayPal, if we’re not the next Visa, we kind of failed.”

ChangeJar offers a digital application for merchants and consumers that eliminates the need for exchanging coins. Users can toss any change from their transaction into the app instead of their pocket, and use that “jar” of money to pay for transactions in the future.

It’s as anonymous as using cash: There’s no record of your purchase like using a debit or credit card. From the merchants’ perspectives, there are no transaction fees to process, or fumbling around the register.

While digital wallets such as Android or Apple Pay are gaining popularity, Camps says “cash is not going away anytime soon,” and that ChangeJar is seizing a market opportunity that these payment apps miss: Billions of cash transactions around the world every year.

Camps says these applications haven’t replaced physical credit cards yet because they’re not exponentially improving transactions. One of the main things Camps took away from ChangeJar’s participation in Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups is that adding value incrementally doesn’t drastically change behaviour.

“What they’ve got right is that everything’s mobile these days. What they’ve got wrong is that just putting a credit card on your phone is not easier than having a credit card in your wallet,” he says. “They haven’t added a lot of value. One of the rules of the Valley is if you’re not making something ten times better, why are you doing it?”

To hear more about ChangeJar’s 500 Startups experience, and to get a tease of what its impending deal with fintech giant Interac might look like, watch the video above.