One of the features we included from the very beginning of CrowdFiber three years ago is the capability to collect deposits. Modeled on crowdfunding and the concepts Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others use, CrowdFiber lets our customers collect conditional deposits.
What is a conditional deposit? The way we define a conditional deposit is one that is committed only upon certain criteria being met. In the case of CrowdFiber, this criterion has always been a campaign goal so far such as X number of subscribers in a zone or Y dollars committed in service purchases for a commercial building location.
Why would a service provider want to collect a deposit, especially if they haven’t yet built fiber to the home in that zone yet? Deposits help providers know their customers have a strong interest in purchasing services. If a consumer says yes to gigabit fiber to the home service on a website, that is one thing. If he or she puts even a $5 commitment behind that vote, that is another. Their commitment is more real.
What is the downside? Naturally, fewer people will complete the sign up process. It is one more hassle to have to enter a credit card or send a check, but so far the campaigns that require deposits still meet their goals. The most impressive one for us is WiredWest in western Massachusetts. The project spans about a third of the state and has collected over $350,000 in conditional deposits from over 7,000 residents with most of the 31 towns taking part in the campaign getting at least a 40% pre-registration take rate. Impressive is definitely the word. The downside in their case is the additional administrative burden of managing payments, but our software does most of that work for them. Unless they get checks. Take a look at the snapshot of some of the checks WiredWest received. That takes some time.
Why do some of our campaigns not collect deposits? Some providers just want to gauge interest. They are confident that if the interest is there, the business will come. Some providers aren’t ready to have that level of commitment to the campaign. They want to explore. And many just want to avoid the complexity of collecting deposits.
Either way, it is great to see so many providers using CrowdFiber to bring advanced FTTH to people around the world.