A company that helped the government and the NHS track the outbreak of Covid-19 across the UK has switched its digital identity and blockchain expertise to set up a new dedicated track and trace system designed specifically for restaurants, pubs and bars to securely record and store details of their customers. Ian Gass, chief executive of AGITATE, talks through how its new InkPass system is going to work and how on-trade businesses can sign up to it.
InkPass has been developed to be used by any pub, bar or restaurant so that they can keep within government’s guidelines on how to re-open in as Covid-19 safe way as possible, explains Ian Gass.
Can you explain why you’ve developed this on-trade specific track and trace system?
We’re a UK Financial Conduct Authority business that operates in the privacy, digital identity and payments space. In April we worked with the NHS as part of Project Oasis, which aimed to provide the NHS with private crowd-sourced data about Covid-19 symptoms across the UK. We have now extended the same approach into a privacy-centric ‘check-in’ tool for ‘walk in’ guests who visit establishments that are expected to keep a register of their guests as we come out of lock-down (e.g. bars, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, etc).
How does it work?
Our offer has two objectives:
- For venues we offer a low cost, secure and GDPR compliant solution to solve their public health obligations – re NHS Test & Trace. Not only that but it does not require their customers to download ‘yet another app’, in fact they can even launch it from the venue’s own facebook page. For their customers we also think it is the quickest and most convenient way to ‘check-in’.We did not feel that most SMEs in the hospitality sector were going to have the right tools to manage the new requirements placed on them due to public health concerns. We also felt it will be impractical and possibly unhygienic for certain establishments to try and maintain these registers using pen and paper.
- For consumers we offer privacy and convenience. Their personal details are encrypted and not accessible by us nor the venue. In addition all encrypted records are deleted after 28 days. Also, the check in process is literally three clicks on your smartphone and is location based. So there is no awkward scanning of QR codes or anything like that. So it is super easy.
The key is to make it as quick and easy to use?
Absolutely. We have developed a very easy to use web-based mobile tool for customers to check-in to a venue. Registration is really quick, thereafter check-in takes less then five seconds. Our tool is map-based which means customers simply open the Inkpass.app when they arrive at the venue, select the venue ‘pin’ on the map, then click ‘check in’.
Some of the venues that are already using us are adding a button to their Facebook page which launches our service. For the venues this takes a few minutes to set up, and can mean they are able to deliver a simple message to their customers “to check-in please go to our facebook page and press the big blue button”.
How does a restaurant or bar sign up and how much does it cost?
Sign up is really quick and takes a few minutes. They simply register on our website inkpass.io. We offer a 30 day free trial and thereafter we charge £10+VAT per month (with discounts for multi-site clients).
And for a consumer what do they do ?
Our service operates from a website called inkpass.app. To use it the customer simply uses Chrome (Android phones) or Safari (iPhones) and visits this address. Once there they simply register (once), and from then on can check-in using the map. We advise consumers that will use our service more than once to add a ‘shortcut’ to their home screen by pressing the orange button in the bottom right corner of the screen. If they do this then an InkPass icon will be stored on their homescreen which looks like any other app. With this in place the user simply taps this icon just like they would any other app.
What information do you record?
We simply ask for your name and either a phone number or email.
What happens to the information stored – how safe is it?
All data is encrypted on the user’s phone, stored in a user-controlled digital wallet (storage) on their phone. This is only accessed by us on behalf of the NHS should they wish to retrieve specific venue and date data requests. We use the Apple/Google decentralised tracking approach which guarantees user anonymity (which is what the new NHS bluetooth app will use).
Do I have to go to all this trouble – surely a pen and paper record would do?
Using pen and paper is OK. However we think our service has the following advantages:
1. If the venue has a lot of customers using pen and paper could be both inconvenient and a health risk.
2. Ours is quick for guests to check-in
3. With ours customers can be assured that their details cannot be used by the venue for alternate purposes thus demonstrating a customer centric approach
4. If a venue is unlucky enough to receive a call from the NHS Test & Trade team they can simply instruct the Test & Trace professional to retrieve the information themselves (saving hours of time).
5. With the inherent privacy and security our solution offers we hope the quality of the data will be higher meaning better performance from a public health point of view.
When all the costs of complying are considered (staff time, materials, reputation, etc) we think our solution could be cheaper than pen and paper.
I use Opentable for booking so is this relevant to me?
Maybe but not necessarily. If the venue is 100% bookings only then there should be no need for us (other than potentially staff). But if a venue has a blend of bookings and ‘walk-ins’ we may still be a useful add-on service.
We are most relevant for venues that have walk-in business. We remove the hassle of having to try and register guests that have not booked.
Does every on-trade business have to introduce a track and trace process?
We advise to always check official guidance as it changes frequently. Currently the hospitality (and other) sector is strongly recommended to participate in the NHS Test & Trace but it is not currently mandatory.
How do you see this initiative being developed in the future?
Looking further ahead, and given our other business interests, we may consider integrating payments into the process to allow guest to pay for orders once they have checked in. We are anticipating launching our brand new direct account-to-account payments service within months.
- For more information please contact Kate Sweet at kate@ASWineSolutions.com