Belfast Telegraph

Cyber currency app to generate funds for nightlife charity

SOS Bus NI will be Belfast Coin’s first charity partner when the app launches later this month.

The Colu team at an event for city merchants. From left, Chris Bunce, Belfast community sales manager, Richard Cherry, general manager, Colu UK and Leona Mills, Belfast community marketing manager (Colu/PA)
The Colu team at an event for city merchants. From left, Chris Bunce, Belfast community sales manager, Richard Cherry, general manager, Colu UK and Leona Mills, Belfast community marketing manager (Colu/PA)

By David Young, PA

A new cyber currency app that incentivises people to shop and socialise in Belfast will generate funds for a nightlife charity helping vulnerable people.

SOS Bus NI will be Belfast Coin’s first charity partner when the app launches later this month.

People using the app can earn Belfast coins, each one equivalent to one pound sterling, by spending money with retailers and other businesses that have signed up to the initiative.

The coins they collect can then be spent in any of those same participating businesses.

Certain transactions on the app, which has been developed by tech company Colu, will also generate a donation to a local charitable cause.

A briefing event for traders interesting in signing up was held in Belfast on Thursday.

Volunteers with SOS Bus NI are on the streets of Belfast every Friday and Saturday night, and during major concerts and other events, helping those in distress or in an otherwise vulnerable state.

SOS Bus NI director Joanne McQuillan welcomed the link-up, which will see the charity receive £1 for every transaction made through a night time economy campaign (track) on the app.

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SOS Bus NI director Joanne McQuillan (David Young/PA)

“SOS Bus is delighted to have been approached by Belfast Coin to be their first charity of choice to receive funds through their ‘after dark’ track,” she said.

“Our welfare services are out in Belfast city centre very Friday and Saturday night from 10pm to 3am and at concerts and events.

“SOS volunteers are trained to deliver welfare services, mental health interventions, support people who are at risk of homelessness, people who need a safe way to get home, reduce pressure on the police and A&E, and really, we care about making Belfast a more resilient city, a safer city for everyone.

“All funds raised through the app will go directly into welfare services, funds raised will go towards training SOS volunteers, to equipping the SOS buses, paying for insurance and fuel and equipment that volunteers will use to help more vulnerable people on the streets of Belfast.”

Leona Mills, marketing manager for Colu’s Belfast team, said: “With the ‘after dark’ track, with every transaction that is made we are donating £1 to the SOS Northern Ireland bus, so there’s that nice feel-good factor as well.

“So not only are you helping local businesses bring more footfall to their front doors, but you are also helping that local charity element as well.”

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts welcomed the Belfast Coin concept.

“It’s clear that we need fresh thinking and new ideas to rejuvenate the retail sector and alleviate some of the pressure many traders are facing,” he said.

“This is why I would urge all members in the Belfast area to get involved with Belfast Coin and grasp the opportunities it presents.”

Colu has launched similar apps in Liverpool, and in Tel Aviv and Haifa in Israel.

PA

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