In one episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza has an issue with his wallet. It is impossibly overstuffed with money from Ireland, an Orlando-area gas coupon, coffee sweetener, and receipts – to the point that it wears on his back and eventually explodes in the street.
George needed help from new Toronto startup Spently, which promises to free wallets everywhere from the burden of storing paper receipts by instead storing a digital copy on a cloud-based service. Users will register an @Spently e-mail address, explains Vincent Panepinto, a co-founder of Spently, and access all of their past purchase information by logging on to Spently.com.
“It takes the clutter out of your wallet, out of your shoe box, and out of your inbox,” he says.
Spently will work with retailers to integrate their digital receipts system. A cashier will ask consumers if they’d like a digital receipt, and consumers will provide their @spently account to receive it. A mobile app will also provide a unique ID that can be scanned at the cash to quickly send the digital receipt. Or if a user receives a paper receipt, they can use their smartphone’s camera to upload the information to their account.
“You’ll never have to lose your receipts again,” says Nicholas Wiktorczyk, the other Spently co-founder. “It will be easier to return products and easier to do your taxes.”
Based at Toronto startup incubator Incubes, Wiktorczyk was inspired to pursue the digital receipts business after buying two items and a grocery store and receiving a two-foot long receipt. Some research revealed that receipt paper is a non-recyclable thermal paper that contains BPA, a proven carcinogen. Also, digital receipts can offer new functions and designs that hadn’t been possible with paper.
“Right now retailers try to get messages across on the bottom of receipts, and a lot of people don’t notice them because it’s on this boring grey paper,” he says. “We’re showing them that we’re offering value they’re not getting right now.”
Founded in February, Spently will provide users with reports on how they’re spending their money. Users will also be able to opt-in to receive special offers from advertisers based on their spending habits.
“It will all be permission-based marketing,” Wiktorczyk says. “We don’t want lots of spam.”
While online financial trackers like Mint and Wave Accounting can help users track their finances, they miss cash purchases unless they are manually entered, he says. With mobile payment applications coming out from Google, Mastercard, and Visa, the desire for a digital receipts solution could quickly manifest.
The service will be free to users, and charge retailers to offer it, Panepinto says.