Zatiq, an innovative Bangladeshi startup which aims to further Digital Bangladesh's progress by building a truly cashless society, has been working on developing a card delivery service, Zatiq Pocket Pay. This allows customers to pay with their cards upon delivery. This writer talked to the Zatiq team to find out more about their vision, modus operandi, and financing.
It is neither a bank nor a mobile financial service (MFS), it is rather a digital payment infrastructure that makes it easier and faster for consumers to pay with methods other than cash, such as bank or MFS.
"We have divided the market segment into three categories and have started building three products based on their needs," said the CEO, Sultan Moni. "In Segment A, there are delivery, e-commerce and f-commerce, while in Segment 2, there are in-store shopping and transactions; and in Segment 3 are micro merchants, merchants outside the urban areas, rickshaw and CNG drivers and other smaller merchants. We have only launched the product for Segment A for now 'PocketPay'. Our goal is to create the fastest and cheapest way to pay in Bangladesh through the local Bangladesh payment network."
The proposed process requires carrying a device in your pocket, however, carrying a device in your pocket seems like a tedious process. There is a chance that this process may not become popular at the mass level. Team Zatiq has already thought of the issue. They have consulted multiple companies, have done numerous tests combining multiple segments and found Segment A (logistics, delivery) companies customer trust paying through a physical POS machine more than other methods while also giving the management of the company more control over transactions remotely.
"Initially, we do not expect pocket pay to be popular among sectors outside this sector and we have other products designed for the other sectors to meet their needs specifically. Our upcoming "Bangladesh's first local Smart Wallet" project will remove the restriction of carrying hardware for other sectors," she hopes.
Any digital device and system are vulnerable to cyberattack and hacking. This also stands as an obstacle to the proliferation of such electronic systems. Naturally, team Zatiq was asked about the security features and anti-theft options.
"As of now we are simply selling the hardware with a card reader, however through partnerships, we will be able to get EMVCo, PCI, VisaPayWave and Mastercard pay pass clearance and certification making the hardware secure for reading card details. Once the card information is read, it is up to the payment gateway or the bank of the merchant to process the payment. We have partnered with payment gateways and banks to offer exclusive rates to clients who do not wish to connect their own payment gateway or do not have one of their own."
Zatiq has raised a pre-seed round the year from investors in the US & Canada to develop the product and take it to market. The team is currently preparing for a seed round and has received interest from both local and foreign venture capitalists (VC) and angel investors to further invest in the startup.
The question remains, how much real impact Zatiq will create in the overall society in Bangladesh can be an intriguing take. However, Team Zatiq thinks that the popularity of MFS in Bangladesh shows that Bangladesh is ready for a cashless society and the economy can benefit hugely from it. It has not been widespread like in India, because we have not been able to equip enough merchants to accept digital payments. Everywhere it has been implemented whether that be card POS machine or MFS, it has been used and adapted.
"We have more bank accounts in Bangladesh than double the population of Canada and more card circulation than UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong combined yet our bank card usage is lower compared to MFS. Despite there being friction among people to take money out of their bank account and top up an MFS e-wallet, many people still do it every day so that they can pay without using cash," says Fahim Al Mahmud, the CTO.
"Less than 10 per cent of businesses in Bangladesh are equipped to accept any type of direct bank card payments. You cannot pay with your bank card everywhere. There is more MFS usage than card usage in Bangladesh because more merchants are able to accept MFS payments by simply putting a QR code in their store. We are building the infrastructure through which all merchants can accept all forms of digital payments instantly, whether that be directly from their bank account or their MFS account or other e-wallets in future. Not all merchants are going to be suitable for bank accounts and not all merchants will be suitable for MFS, we want to spread the possibility of accepting all types of digital payment instantly for merchants across Bangladesh, only then can we achieve the vision of a cashless society, " adds Fahim Al Mahmud.
Zatiq is simply starting the vision with PocketPay designed for the logistics and delivery segment. To turn the Bangladeshi dream of a cashless society into a real possibility they have developed other products allowing money to be moved around Bangladesh locally, instantly, and cheap without requiring additional hardware.
PocketPay is currently being sold for a maximum of Tk 5,000 per device while offering a different price depending on the order size. Therefore, Zatiq has the potential to turn into a game-changer in the financial sector of our country. Such ambitious startups need patronage from the investors and the users to flourish.
The writer is a third-year Economics student at the University of Dhaka.