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Startup Lounge: Paymob is planning to expand in MENA – Islam Shawky

Startup Lounge: Paymob is planning to expand in MENA – Islam Shawky
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By: Marina Gamil


Mubasher: With Egypt accelerating its digital transformation, more fintech startups and companies have been evolving in the country, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic time, to offer various digital payments, ensure financial inclusion, and enable a cashless economy.

One of the Egyptian fintech startups that seeks to digitally transform the cash cycle and provide financial technology solutions in the country is Paymob.

Established in 2015, Paymob aims to enable merchants to have access to different digital payment solutions and enhance financial inclusion across the region through its services, including point-of-sale (POS) and in-app payment technologies.

Mubsher has welcomed the CEO of Paymob, Islam Shawky, to be the guest in the Startup Lounge to discuss the shift and challenges in the fintech industry in Egypt.

What inspired you in the Egyptian market to launch Paymob and enter the fintech industry?

The Egyptian market has always been heavily reliant on cash with a vast amount of cards issued by banks. Paymob identified the opportunity in bridging the gap between the unbanked, the underserved, and acquirers by providing several digital solutions that cater for the needs of consumers, merchants, and financial institutions.

How does your company contribute to Egypt’s efforts towards digital transformation and promote financial inclusion?

Paymob’s line of products and services aims to serve the financial value chain. Our solutions in partnership with key players in the market are all working to digitally enable consumers and merchants of all sizes and industries to close the cash cycle and convert it into digital.

How does Paymob serve rural communities in Egypt and ensure their financial inclusion?

Paymob’s large network of more than 80,000 retail merchants and over 15 million mobile wallet users is widely distributed across the country. By enabling merchants to accept digital payments through various payment methods that cater for the needs of consumers no matter their payment preference, we make sure to engage consumers of all demographic and geographic characteristics no matter how digitally enabled they are.

How will "Tap-on-Phone" digital payment acceptance service, you recently launched in partnership with Mastercard, add to the Egyptian market and support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?

Tap-on-Phone is a simple, convenient, and cost-effective digital payment technology that meets the needs of [small office/home office] SOHO and SME merchants. Businesses can offer their customer a ready-to-scale intuitive and secure checkout experience.

What are the challenges facing your business to grow more in the market? And how do you overcome them?

Egypt is a largely populated country with a large appetite for digitisation. The biggest challenge the fintech market is facing remains to be cash; however, efforts made by the government, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), and other financial technology players are paving the way for businesses like ours to flourish.

In your opinion, what was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Egypt's fintech industry?

The fintech industry is one of the few industries that has been positively impacted by the lifestyle changes induced by COVID-19. Both merchants and consumers have realised the importance of digital transactions, which resulted in both a drastic increase in merchant on-boarding, consumer activity, and transactions. The pandemic has also influenced key decision-makers in supporting the fintech industry in their mission to financial inclusion.

How can governments support Paymob’s efforts to empower SMEs?

Governments play a huge role in driving market demand and consumer behavior. By introducing and encouraging more and more digital services, the government is now paving the way to digitisation and SME empowerment.

What are your upcoming projects?

We are planning to expand outside Egypt, in the MENA region. Our team works hard on capturing market trends and being a step ahead of consumer and merchant demand.

What are the criteria you set to expand your businesses in any country?

The main criterion we search for when planning an expansion into a new country is market readiness and relevance. We make sure to select a country where Paymob can add real value to its existing market.

What is your advice for fintech startups to attract investors and achieve success?

The most important advice I can provide startups with is to find a real problem and offer the solution to it. A strong and passionate team and customer-centric experience also aid in paving the way to success.