Daily Dhaka Times: Amar S. Magon is a charismatic Canadian entrepreneur, doer, and marketer. Previously, he worked at global consulting firm Accenture and has been integral in the startup and growth of multiple technology companies. Currently, Amar is the Chief Marketing Officer of Payza BD (Casada Technology Ltd), an e-wallet provider and online payment platform. Since its beta launch, Payza has seen steady growth and has released multiple products that allow people to load money, connect their bank account to their e-wallet, and make online transactions with ease. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Amar so that we could better understand Payza, its potential, impact, and more.
Online payments and the barriers that currently exist is one of the major problems facing Bangladesh’s ecommerce industry. We need a better payments infrastructure combined with better payment services in order to solve this problem and ultimately help the local e-commerce industry to thrive and grow. Payza sees itself as a real difference maker here, with a solid line of products and services that can create a lasting impact. Amar shares his plans and opinions regarding Payza, the e-commerce industry, online payments, and why people really have no more reasons to sit around, waiting for Paypal to arrive in Bangladesh.
Daily Dhaka Times: Briefly tell us about Payza.
Amar S. Magon: Payza is Bangladesh’s first e-wallet provider and online payment platform. Similar to a regular wallet, Payza offers an online wallet that allows anyone to load money and use those funds to make online payments on e-commerce websites, as well as many other uses. For the first time in Bangladesh, online retailers can offer their customers a superior online payment experience that is truly secure and instant. Adoption of e-wallets has dramatically increased all over the world because of its convenience and built-in security features. Although we recognize that there is a definite learning curve, the use of e-wallets is already growing quite rapidly in Bangladesh. We are very pleased with the trend we are seeing in this country. The current bundled payment service providers are unable to provide users with a completely secure and effortless payment experience and the current requirement of entering your credit card number every time you want to shop online is not the future. Neither is cash-on-delivery. It’s all about an instant online payment system that only requires a user to enter their email address and password to complete the transaction. This is where Payza comes in. Payza is Bangladesh’s first PayPal alternative and we have put a special focus on offering Bangladeshi users specific advantages tailored to their needs. Our e-wallet has been localized to the taka currency, abides to all of the rules and regulations of Bangladesh Bank, is endorsed by the ICT Ministry, and has been designed specifically for Bangladesh market. In a country like Bangladesh where ecommerce is still at its infancy, people are very reluctant to make payments online. Only a secure and easy-to-use system can solve this problem and take Bangladesh’s e-commerce industry to the next level. At Payza, we are doing exactly that.
Daily Dhaka Times: One of the issues with online payment is trust. How Payza is going to build the perception of trust?
Amar S. Magon: People in Bangladesh don’t necessarily have a problem with shopping online. E-commerce companies are already doing well. The problem so far has been payment options – none on which people can rely on. People were missing a secure and reliable service that has no time-outs or errors, and that is not a user experience nightmare. We are here to fix that. The Payza e-wallet is super easy to use whether you are loading money, connecting your bank account to your e-wallet, or making an online payment. Amar S MagonWe are partnering with all the major telcos of the country and will soon be unveiling a feature that allows users to recharge and top-up their mobiles with Payza. Furthermore, with the coming of our international prepaid MasterCard, users will also get a convenient way to shop online at websites from outside of Bangladesh. Long-term trust with the people of Bangladesh will be built by offering them a superior user experience that gives makes it easy to shop online with confidence. We’ve been in the market since 2012, we’re here to stay and make real change. Payza is now tagged to many prominent e-commerce sites such as Akhoni.com, Rokomari.com, AmardeshAmarGram.com, Bangladeshbrands.com, and will be available as a payment checkout on most online retailers in the coming months. We’ve also partnered with Grameenphone, which is now putting tremendous focus on safe and secure online payment solutions, and have trusted Payza as one of their primary payment options. As I said, Bangladesh’s e-commerce ecosystem is still in its infancy. There are several integral parts of an e-commerce ecosystem that are necessary for its growth: a proper refund policy system, robust delivery services, an instant and reliable payment method, advanced UI/UX, and much more. With the growing entrepreneurial community and the number of online retailers increasing every day, Bangladeshis are realizing the importance of providing a superior user experience to their customers, having a trusted and reliable payment method plays a vital role in that experience. Customers should feel that the payment process is easy and convenient as well as secure and safe. That’s the value-proposition we ensure for our users and online retailers.
Daily Dhaka Times: How do you operate here in Dhaka? What are the plans for future?
Amar S. Magon: We have our local office in Dhaka to look after the operations in Bangladesh. We are building an amazing team and are always on the lookout for top talents. As a bank-led model, we are very excited about being in partnership with Bangladesh Commerce Bank Limited (BCBL). They are a forward thinking and cutting edge state bank. We have already implemented the Over-the-Counter option for users to add or withdraw funds to or from their e-wallets in-person at more than 40 BCBL branches. This is just the beginning, we have big plans for Bangladesh. Another major vertical we are looking at is P2P (Person-to-Person) transfers – sending money to family and friends through your e-wallet. It is commonly used in North America and in other developed Asian countries. Bkash, for example, is a P2P method. Amar quoteThe key difference is Payza is an e-wallet (based on e-mail address) while the latter is an m-wallet (based on phone number). With the steady growth of smartphones and Internet usage and because your e-wallet gives you so many different ways of using your money, we believe that the future of online payments is moving towards e-wallets. We are also going to launch our International prepaid MasterCard in Bangladesh soon. Having this credit card attached to your e-wallet means anyone sitting in Dhaka or anywhere in the country will be able to shop on the most popular international websites, like eBay and Amazon for example. We are very excited about rolling out the prepaid card as it will allow users to use their foreign currency or convert it to taka for local use.
Daily Dhaka Times: What’s going on with Payza now?
Amar S. Magon: Our current focus is user experience. As a new user, we want to make it as easy and fast as possible to open your e-wallet, add funds, and start using your account right away. Members can already connect any bank account from across the country to their e-wallet in order to load funds into their e-wallet. They also have the option to add and withdraw funds to the e-wallet in-person at BCBL branches, and soon, users will be able to use any local debit or credit card to top-up their accounts instantly. We also placed a big focus recently on simplifying our verification process for Bangladeshi members. In short, we’re focused on streamlining our processes and making our features as easy and convenient to use as possible.
Daily Dhaka Times: Started in 2006, Payza has rapidly grown in size and quality. What is your opinion about the growth of Payza both globally and in Bangladesh?
Amar S. Magon: Payza has been in business since 2006 and has 12 million users worldwide. We are deeply passionate about growing the Bangladesh market. We recognize the necessity of an established e-wallet technology and are extremely positive about the future of our operations in Bangladesh.Keep in mind that the use of e-wallets is on the rise in both emerging and developed markets. Although the concept is relatively new to Bangladesh, we are consistently seeing growth in our user base. As we grow our partnerships and bring more services to online shoppers as well as freelancers – for example, our partnership with Grameenphone and other telco recharge/top-up services, our international prepaid MasterCard, checkout on mainstream websites, etc. – we are expecting significant traction increases in Bangladesh. One key focus now in Bangladesh is on product awareness, which we are accomplishing by bringing our campaigns to market.
Daily Dhaka Times: You live in Canada and look after Marketing of Pazya Bangladesh? How do you manage things? How has your experience been of managing a long distance office?
Amar S. Magon: Frequent and effective communication along with the trust that is built over time allow us to keep growing. Long live Skype and Google Hangouts! Besides being in Dhaka with the team every 2-3 months, we do a considerable amount of strategy planning and business development from Canada, meanwhile our Bangladeshi teams and local leadership are running our day to day operations. Offering a completely localized product with full local operations goes to show the commitment that we are investing to help build and grow the Bangladesh e-wallet market.
Daily Dhaka Times: What are a few lessons you’ve learned from your experience as the CMO of a FinTech company?
Amar S. Magon: The response from our users has been extremely positive. People are learning very quickly that our value-proposition is equivalent to PayPal. Since we’ve customized our platform to include the local currency, taka, (among all the other foreign currencies), we are seeing that there is clearly a big demand for e-wallets in Bangladesh. We’re mindful that the concept of e-wallets is relatively new here, so we will spend time educating people about all of its usage, benefits and features. One of the key lessons for me is that while introducing a new product or service in a demand-driven market, there still needs to be a considerable amount of energy spent on product awareness and education campaigns. You still need to put in the sweat and hard work in order to make things happen. We are creating synergies and partnerships with the ICT Ministry, ECab, Basis, Google, Facebook, and other major financial institutions and telcos to create the best possible user experience. The lesson here is that you can’t win alone in this game. You need to collaborate.
Credit: Interview by Fatema Mohammad, Edited by Ruhul Kader, Images by Payza BD
Source: Future Startup