brand + digital + ip + ventures


Business innovation in payments

sQuid is a next generation brand founded, funded and grown from nothing by Nucleus to become a £57+m business in less than five years. Conceptually, sQuid is the Skype of payments and an alternative to cash, debit and credit cards for sub £10 transactions – a market worth £220bn a year in the UK alone. Initially, sQuid uses contactless pre-paid smartcards to allow customers to purchase ‘the little things in life’ – a coffee, newspaper, a sandwich for lunch, but the system also allows biometric and mobile transactions. Uniquely sQuid has a multi-purse capability and is compatible with all the new transit (ITSO) standards being introduced across the UK, which means it has the potential to become a universal smartcard.

Nucleus created the business concept, business model, name, brand identity, customer portal, merchant and admin portals and all marketing and advertising. Nucleus remains the largest shareholder.

Our name solution ‘sQuid’ is a play on the word ‘quid’ – slang for a pound. To accompany this, a supporting visual language and identity was created with the tag line ‘now you’re loaded’ and a distinctive Q symbol, which is trade marked along with the name and tag line in key markets around the world. Pop star Rick Astley worked with us to create a distinctive sonic brand to support the brand proposition.

During 2008 sQuid launched its open payments system in Bolton and in Dundee, completed trials in two secondary schools in Wiltshire and launched a Coffee Republic branded Payment and Loyalty card. 2009-10 witnessed rapid expansion of services nationwide, including a transit contract signed with National Express in Scotland, and a number of significant contracts for cashless payments in schools. sQuid is on track for 10 million transactions in 2011 and rapid growth thereafter. In May 2011, sQuid was awarded the Frost & Sullivan award for European Smartcards Market Penetration, which acknowledges outstanding industry achievements and demonstration of best practices.

Also in May 2011, sQuid joined forces with Applied Card Technologies (ACT) under the new corporate umbrella of Smart Transactions Group, creating a new European leader in smart transactions. The Group aims to accelerate UK expansion as well as launch services in a number of emerging and fast-growing markets, including Africa, the Middle East and India. Nucleus retains a 24% stake in Smart Transactions demonstrating the value of innovation and hand-on expertise in creating something from nothing.