This article originally appeared in The Daily Star on June 16, 2014
Payza is one of the leading global online payment platforms which specialize in e-commerce processing, corporate disbursements and remittances. Payza has been operating in Bangladesh for over two years, in the duration of which they have introduced two services- the first, introduced in March 2012 allowed Payza users to send money from abroad to other Payza users inside the country. The second service improved on the first by letting users send money from a Payza account from abroad to any local bank account here, removing the need for the recipient to have a Payza account. These services greatly helped remittance and outsourcing in the country the last couple of years.
Payza now plans on opening the e-wallet service in Bangladesh which will address the payment problems in the e-commerce field inside the country. We spoke to Mr. Firoz Patel, Executive VP of Strategic Partnerships and Corporate Affairs, who is in Bangladesh right now to oversee the launch of their new service. The session started off with a short video clip which advertises the new product- the e-wallet. An e-wallet is basically a portal on top of a bank account or a credit card which can be used to send money from one account to another. This will be particularly helpful for the e-commerce sector where there are no easy payment solutions. Making transactions via credit card is a long and laborious process that includes filling out lengthy forms with all the credit card details. Moreover, people are reluctant to give out such sensitive information so freely, especially with such high risks of phishing.
With Payza, the user would only once be required to give his/her credit card information to the Payza account and afterwards, anytime the user wishes to make a purchase online, he/she can do so by using their Payza account which will make the payment from the bank account/credit card information the Payza account is linked to. All they need is to enter their Payza username and password along with a pin code which is in place as a security measure to prevent hacks and phishing attempts. It is a debit system and there are good security measures taken which are already in practice in countries abroad and proven to work well.
“The idea behind the Payza local e-wallet system is to make the buying process easier and faster. You make a Payza account and you put some money into it like you would when you are filling your credit. Then you use that account to buy products and services online through any site in Bangladesh.
“Payza will be providing the same features here in Bangladesh that Paypal provides inside the US,” we were told. This raised the obvious question, “Why is PayPal not providing their services here?” Nadimur Rahman, vice-chairman of Casada Technology (Payza’s local business partner) and founder of Loosemonkies, who was present during the interview explained the situation to us in depth. There are restrictions from the government on making purchases outside the country. PayPal works on a ‘Money in, money out’ principle. There is money in, but no money out. Moreover, the market here is not big enough for PayPal to be interested in. There will be no PayPal here anytime soon, he concluded.
Granted, Payza will not be able to offer services to make purchases internationally, Mr. Patel is hopeful about the prospects of the booming local e-commerce scene. “We feel that there is a huge market here.” says Mr. Patel. “There is a booming e-commerce market, freelance work as well as a lot of outsourcing work are being done here that would highly benefit from the service we are offering.” Mr. Patel hopes to create a buzz strong enough to make Payza go viral, “Part of our work is B2B and part of it is directly at the consumer end of the spectrum. I think with a combination of local effort and the word of mouth effect we can become a big part of the growth of online businesses in Bangladesh.”
We asked which banks or mobile fund transfer services will Payza be supporting in their e-wallet service. Mr. Patel tells us that in the future they would be looking to integrate as many banks as possible, but currently Payza is associated with two banks in particular. “As I said, we are already partnered with Bank Asia. Moving forward, we have just signed an MOU with Bangladesh Commerce Bank (BCBL) to facilitate the Payza local e-wallet system in Bangladesh. We are also looking to partner with MFS such as BKash, and are talking to them at the moment.”
The service will be launched right after Ramadan, Mr. Patel tells us. “Tentatively our target is September of this year. There are ongoing talks with the Bangladesh Bank as well as certain ministries. We will launch as soon we come to an arrangement.”
While many of the problems in making online transactions still persist, Payza’s new e-wallet service looks to be a big step in the right direction.