Imagine launching your first business and having to wait three weeks for your first customer.
It must have been tense, right?
“Right”, confirms Omar Sahib, Founder and CEO of WEBXPAY in an interview with Roar Tech. “But we had identified a huge gap in the market, and we knew with our finance backgrounds, we had to be on to something...”
So they held tight.
24 months later and WEBXPAY has over 1,000+ merchants enabled, and, claims Sahib, they are the leading ecommerce Software as a Service (SaaS) provider in Sri Lanka. They provide a variety of essential solutions—website building tools, embedded shopping carts, and an array of payment gateways—so businesses can make the crucial leap to life online.
Payment Gateway Industry
The Payment Gateway Industry is nearly 40 years old. Ever since Visa introduced the credit card terminal in 1979 and, for the time, gave an alternative to traditional cash, the way that people pay for goods and services has become increasingly complex. The advent of Amazon.com in 1994 (then merely a startup!), and ebay.com a year later, was the catalyst for commodities going online, and changed the consumer space forever.
A recent Payment Gateway Industry study (June 2018) estimates that the global market is to reach US$ 86.9 billion by 2025 (rising from US$ 30.6 billion in 2015). A massive chunk of that exponential growth is the explosion of e-commerce in emerging markets.
In Sri Lanka, the transition to online payment gateways is still in its early stages, but WEBXPAY are making it achievable by offering a cost effective and easy to access service. Essentially, any business can sign up, and build a website using the easy-to-navigate templates (there are currently 20 to choose from). Then the business can start accepting payments from not only from global-players like Visa, Mastercard and Amex, but also from local mobile payment options such as EzCash, Mcash, DFCC Wallet, and integrated payment plans from Sampath Bank, HNB and Commercial Bank. It is this versatility that makes WEBXPAY so appealing.
Gap In The Market
By ingeniously packaging together two separate online entities—content management systems (CMS) and ecommerce integration—WEBXPAY are now processing over Rs 50,000,0000 merchant sales a month.
However, just because they identified a “huge” gap in the market (and filled it), generating and sustaining a customer base has not been easy.
Like any startup venturing in a new field of digital disruption, the biggest challenge WEBXPAY faced, explained Sahib, was convincing vendors, who were completely green to ecommerce, that this is the future of supply and demand services: from healthcare to retail to hospitality.
“So in the early days we were onboarding merchants with short term one or two month subscriptions. But the trouble was, after these initial subscriptions expired, the merchants dropped off”.
The reality, Sahib elaborated, is that any business who takes the transition to a new ecommerce venture, is likely to take up to three-to-six months to generate their first transaction, because they are building online awareness and driving traffic to their website for the first time.
As expected, some of their early clients were not that patient and wanted results quicker.
So the WEBXPAY management team had to pivot and came up with a simple, new solution: minimum three subscription packages. That way, they could guarantee their customers the time needed to create a genuine online presence and generate e-business.
Benefits of Experience
Sahib’s impressive eight year background in banking, risk management, and credit and electronic payments has, unquestionably, prepared him enough for the challenges of building a business in the burgeoning fintech space.
Regardless, in case he needs solid business advice, he can always call on his Co-founder and Chairman, Nazeem Mohamed.
Mohamed possesses 23-years of experience in the financial services sector having headed Global Payments Asia Pacific from 2006 to 2015 as Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives. Prior to joining Global Payments, Mohamed had a 14-year career with HSBC Sri Lanka where he was Head of Card Acceptance for Sri Lanka & Maldives.
Together they are make a formidable financial partnership. And it is with this experience, and through this partnership, that they believe they can deliver a groundbreaking disruption to the Sri Lankan fintech space.
How To Scale
The benefits of having such a wealth of knowledge in the market you intend to disrupt cannot be underestimated.
Without aggressive marketing, WEBXPAY have created the foundations to scale, securely and quickly, because they know who to partner with, to make their business soar.
Sahib told Roar Tech, WEBXPAY are targeting a merchant count of 25,000 in the next five years. They can dream-big because they have a structured acquisition strategy in place that sees them in partnership, nationwide, with over 700 bank branches.
“We are currently partnered with HNB [250 branches], DFCC Bank [134 branches], Commercial Bank [340 branches], and some other banks are at the discussion stage. Basically, we are referred by these banks for any online related need among their clients.”
So far WEBXPAY’s mission to remove the entry barriers to ecommerce by providing cost effective and accessible plug & play solutions has been entirely bootstrapped, internally.
That said, they are on the lookout for investors.
“The biggest challenge faced by WEBXPAY is expansion capital. With the Sri Lankan venture capital space being in its nascent stage, raising venture funding is a challenge in general for the startup industry.”
Sahib continues, “The model and product works. We just need fuel now to take off internationally,” said Sahib.
He intends to solidify the product and service in Sri Lanka with a few more important add-ons, and then move into international markets such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Myanmar.