With the new year and new decade in place, we decided to take some time to reflect on what we achieved in 2019, and what we’ve in the backlog for 2020.
2019 was a challenging year for Payer (with some rewards🥳)
We came up with the idea for Payer in 2016 out of necessity. Payer was born with a mission to make payments simple and hassle-free, and our mission has remained the same ever since.
Our point of convergence then was the fact that Individuals with access to the internet was growing at a rapid speed, and ownership of smartphones and internet-enabled devices would create a vacuum to innovate and challenge the status quo.
Unfortunately, in the past few years, we were able to to make very little progress towards making payments simple and hassle-free.
In retrospect, we realise that It has always been difficult to introduce new technologies, innovation and processes that challenge the status quo. Patrick and John Collison, co-founders of Stripe (one of our inspirations) once said, the biggest challenge for them while building Stripe wasn’t building the product itself but was It was integrating payments. For them, It was like going back to the 70s and dealing with financial institutions who didn’t understand the internet and who didn’t want to see internet businesses succeed.
We’ve had similar challenges with integrating providers. A lot of institutions are still new to how internet businesses operate, hence are reluctant to shift to a more modern way of doing things. Additionally, the lack of payment regulations and policies makes it difficult for innovation to breed in the country. We are optimistic for 2020 and anticipate to see policies and regulations created to shape and breed innovations.
Highlights of 2019
We started 2019 with the introduction of Dhiraagu Bill Payment services on Payer. Our customers can now conveniently pay for Dhiraagu mobile and internet accounts. Payments are processed in real-time and connected instantly.
Additionally, customers on Payer can also check their due bills and amount.
In January we also introduced additional Security options for our users. Our users can use the biometric security features (FaceID, TouchID) offered by their devices on Payer. For devices without biometric security, users can create a passcode.
During the development of this certain feature, we interviewed our users to understand their preferences.
While some users prefer to have verification for every transaction + application, others preferred just to have a verification only when they’re opening the app.
Hence we have given the flexibility for the user to have their preferred method.
In March, we introduced Dhiraagu Pay Cash-in feature. Our users who also use Dhiraagu Pay for other services can easily cash-in to their Dhiraagu Pay wallet right out of Payer.
In April, we took Payer to the next-level by introducing Maldives’ First Digital Bank. Over 100 customers signed up on the first day itself. Unfortunately, It was just an April’s Fools Prank. We had some fun with it, especially when we received a call from Maldives Monetary Authority regarding our Digital Bank.
In the holy month of Ramadan, we provided our users with the option to browse menus from different restaurants and book online with Payer, making the process of Iftar Bookings simple and hassle-free.
In August, we launched one of the best product we’ve developed so far. The option to pay and manage Medianet account right out of Payer.
We took it to the next level with Medianet by allowing users to not just pay for the package, but upgrade their packages and activate add-ons. Additionally, users can also use the credit they have with Medianet for payments, upgrades and add-ons.
In September, we graduated from Startup School by Y Combinator. Startup School has been an intriguing learning experience process for us. We connected with several other startups in different regions tackling similar problems.
In October, we got invited to QITCOM 2019 — the largest information technology conference in Qatar due to our “reputation as an innovative startup”. This was again a fantastic experience for us to meet with technology professionals tacking the next big problems.
We also celebrated “12 Months of Hassle-free Payments” on October 23, 2019.
The most exciting moment of 2019 met with us just a week before the end of the year. We were awarded Startup of the Year 2019 by Maldives Business Awards.
Whilst 2019 was an exciting year, we were not able to do as much as we planned. In 2020, we plan to make up for the missed part in 2019 and to do more.
Payer in 2020
In 2020, we’re anticipating to see the foundation being laid for the next generation payment system for the country. This, we believe would involve the creation of the required policies related to digital payments, data protection and privacy. Additionally, we also believe creating a solid framework is paramount for the future, and to give the “space” required to innovate.
We count on stakeholders to work together to transform the current payment system to a more digital friendly system. This would require banks, mobile wallet providers and other payment service providers and merchants to collaborate more closely.
The rapid growth of the FinTech Industry globally is due to the collaboration between the stakeholders. Europe is currently championing the model with regulations such as PSD2 in place. UK is currently a hotbed for FinTech innovation due to the opportunities created by the introduction of Open Banking. Other countries such as Canada and Australia are getting ready for Open Banking and to transform their payments landscape.
While we cannot get there immediately, coming together is a start. For Payer, 2020 will be about working together with more stakeholders to make payments more simple and hassle-free.