Going Cashless: Startup PayMob Wants To Make Egypt (And MENA) Transact From Their Mobile Phones
According to PayFort’s State of Payments 2016 report, 42% of Egyptian consumers shop online, yet 91% of Egyptian shoppers still use cash on delivery as a payment option. It’s not surprising, as the country predominantly has cash-driven businesses, with Harvard Business Review citing that only 10% have access to a bank account, and 94% of financial transactions are conducted in cash. In a cash-dominated society, financial inclusion is essential for individuals, enterprises, and economies alike to prevent hurdles to progress- and this is the opportunity that PayMob is trying to tackle.
The startup is an electronics payments solutions provider converting cash payments to electronic, using existing payment channels such as credit card, mobile wallet and cash. Based in Egypt, the fintech startup is co-founded by CEO Islam Shawky, COO Alain El-Hajj, and CTO Mostafa Menessy. Given Egypt’s reliance on cash, El-Hajj says that its economy is at risk to lose money through cash-based fraud, theft, costly insurance, as well as from the time-consuming task of counting and reconciling cash balances- and digital payments can definitely help reduce this kind of waste. Shawky also points out that the focus on cash excludes people from the financial system and its benefits, and PayMob can help turn that around, saying, “We’re working on empowering the masses with tools to perform digital transactions, and get access to financial services using their mobile phones.”
As for its business model, PayMob takes, as a commission, a transaction fee for its processing services. The startup has five core services: online payments, mobile wallet payments, in-store payments, standalone checkout to let users pay using credit/debit card, and card on delivery. The card on delivery feature is a patent-pending service, allowing customers to pay with their MasterCard and Visa credit/debit cards from their doorstep. This is an indication to the startup’s future outlook- Shawky says they view the cash mentality as their biggest competitor, and so rely on partnerships in the ecosystem to “create the biggest impact.”
Partnering with banks and mobile network operators, plus retail chains, the startup uses the reach and infrastructure in Egypt to educate, onboard and handle inquiries. The startup also works with partners and clients in other sectors wherein mobile wallets can offer a solution to traditional payment processes through a cost-effective payment method. As an example, Shawky says: “For microfinance loan payments, when it’s easier and cheaper to use a mobile wallet, rather than make a long journey to make a cash payment in person, it becomes an easy decision for users to use mobile wallets.”