Craig Buchan from QPal in Edinburgh

Market research helps fintech company Qpal achieve international success

Aberdeen-based mobile payment company Qpal wanted to expand its business offering to reach the international market. But before conquering new territory, Qpal needed to prepare. That’s where we came in.

Founder Craig Buchan set up Qpal in 2016, with an aim to solve the problem of long queues for food, drink and merchandise at large scale events by offering an easy and effective mobile payment method.

Craig explains, “Being an avid live event attendee, I’ve experienced the pain points first hand, so in early 2016 I set out with a vision to revolutionise the industry.”

His vision remains strong. Craig wants to make Qpal the leading global provider of mobile payment solutions to the live event industry.

Choosing the right market

After applying his sharp focus to the events industry, Craig knew that choosing the right market to launch his product in was pivotal to the company’s chance of achieving international success.

“I think that many start-ups in Scotland assume that the local UK market is the place to start”, Craig explains. “But I wanted to think strategically and establish the business in a place where it could thrive internationally.

“My own initial research had led me to consider both Scandinavia and UAE as potential markets, but I urgently needed detailed market research to make the right business decisions.”

Receiving the right support

It was at this point that our international market research service started to play an important part.

“Rachel Milloy and her team at Scottish Enterprise have been nothing short of first class for Qpal”, says Craig.

“Their speed, accuracy and depth of research are of utmost value to a company like us that's operating at 100 miles per hour and can't dedicate the time resource to in-depth research.”

Rachel explains the different types of research that the team provided to help Craig make the right decisions and develop the business.

“Qpal was interested in finding stats about attendance, spend and loyalty programmes at live events”, she says.

“They were also looking for insight into the hospitality and mobile payments industry at a global level.

“We were able to provide the data they needed using the range of specialist databases and resources that we have access to.”

Access to market trends in the UAE

As the UAE became the clear front-runner as the location Qpal wanted to expand into, the company also requested some location specific information about mobile wallet trends, mobile app statistics and upcoming fintech events.

Having access to this detailed knowledge provided a strong foundation for Craig to start exploring the market more directly.

“We became committed to launching our solution into the UAE market for a number of reasons”, he says.

“The smartphone penetration rate in the UAE is amongst the best in the world, there is a rapidly emerging appetite for fintech solutions that help in the fight against cash transactions.”

As Craig started planning business trips to Dubai, his requests to the market research team changed. The company's needs were now for detailed due diligence knowledge on individual companies.

“The research service helped us to prepare properly for our sales and marketing activity so that we made the most of the visits”, he says.

“The individual company information they supplied enabled us to pinpoint real needs and offer relevant solutions.

“A great example is the way our relationship with Visa has developed. From the outset, we had detailed knowledge of what would be relevant to the company and were able to offer solutions to meet their needs.”

Achieving growth objectives

Craig recognises the company’s Scottish location has played a vital part in the opportunities Qpal has experienced.

“With our development base in Aberdeen, we have access to technical expertise which is respected in the rest of the world”, says Craig.

“Scotland is in a strong position in the fintech revolution and I’d encourage other Scottish companies not to be too shy to take ideas to the market.

"We’re continuing to work on establishing the business through 2018 and on in to next year. We'll be exploring new territories and research will continue to be at the heart of where we choose to market our products.

"The commercial partnership opportunities we’ve unearthed in UAE will allow us much quicker growth than back home in the UK.”

‘Insight and effectiveness’

So what were the big benefits Qpal experienced from our international market research service?

“The fact that it’s a free service made it hugely advantageous for us”, explains Craig. “Many of the reports and statistics that Scottish Enterprise have access to would be costly for us to buy or subscribe to ourselves.

“The time saving is massive too. I am a big believer in the importance of research, but in trying to launch the business, doing all of that myself would have limited what we could achieve.

“The team in Scottish Enterprise provided real knowledge and expertise, and the quick turnaround times made all the difference.

“Whether we've craved information about the live events industry, or fintech, or an individual company due diligence, Rachel and her colleagues have always delivered the results we need - we can't emphasise enough the insight and effectiveness of the Scottish Enterprise research team.”

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