London-based e-commerce platform provider Payza is focused on bridging the financial services gap in international markets. Recently, Payza launched Payza-as-a-Platform, a web-based platform that can be tailored to the individual demands of diverse international markets.
Payza-as-a-Platform was designed to enable e-commerce and e-wallet services for businesses operating inside those countries that have established money licenses and banking relationships but lack the tools necessary to bring these services to market either locally or internationally.
"We partner with local providers, local banking partners, to use our service as a platform rather than them having to implement their own platform or having us do licensing," said Ali Nizzameddine, Global Executive Vice President for Products and Technologies at Payza. "So when we come in we customize the platform for the local market depending on their needs."
Payza-as-a-Platform allows for person-to-person (P2P), person-to-business and business-to-business money transfers, as well as remittance (payroll) services. It also offers shopping cart integration, identity verification services and a dispute resolution center for chargebacks and other difficulties.
"What we have been trying to do in the last year is partner strategically with local partners, as well as banks for example, to have them use our platform to have their merchants come on board and accept payments," Nizzameddine said.
Payza-as-a-Platform is a web-based application, but a mobile component to it is coming soon. Nizzameddine said Payza is in the process of building its mobile platform, with a launch date by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Nizzameddine noted that the new component will work hand in hand with the web platform. "But also we're trying to customize it so it could stand on its own product for P2P transfers," he said.
On the mobile platform, Payza merchants will be able to view transaction flows in real time, and individual consumers will be able to send and receive money via phone numbers. Payza realized that the web platform is a foundation from which to build the mobile app. "We started thinking should the mobile app be tied directly to the website?" Nizzameddine said. "And what we realize right now is that the shift to mobile is very aggressive. It does not make sense just to tie your entire products to the web. You need to have some sort of mobile-only solution."
Payza is thus designing the mobile platform to stand alone while also leveraging the web platform on the back-end. "Obviously our platform is pretty big on the web," Nizzameddine stated. "Why not use it as the back end?"
He added that the person downloading the app doesn't need to know a website exists, and the "mobile itself could work independently. … So we're building the app so that the user doesn't have to necessarily go to payza.com or the website to use the app itself."
Payza has been in business since 2002 and supports 21 currencies in the networks it operates. Payza has over 10 million users and more than 75,000 merchants in its network.
Nizzameddine said that in developing markets, the payment infrastructures of banks, ATMs and processing networks have not been built out. Increasingly, mobile devices have taken their place.
"Mostly in developing countries [consumers] skipped the web and went directly to mobile," Nizzameddine noted. "They use their mobile devices for pretty much all of their day-to-day actions. So I do believe that having a mobile strategy is really effective, especially in developing markets."
Another lesson Payza learned is that international programs do not work well without knowledge of local customs and conditions, which underscores the importance of payment providers having partnerships with financial institutions in those markets.
"We do have a global reach, and we understand how the markets work," Nizzameddine said. "But it's a lot harder for us to do local offerings or local payments where we're not physically there. And I think this is the issue. If you're not really there, how you can tailor something that the local market will use?"
With that said, developing markets have seemingly unlimited growth potential for mobile payments. "I think it's pretty much an untapped market," Nizzameddine said.
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