In the past few years, Kenya has witnessed a tremendous paradigm shift towards digital payment, thanks to the emergence of FinTechs. However, a big gap loomed on the way to a completely cashless reality, lack of interoperability. This informed the formation of PayConnect in 2016.
“Digital channels are not new in Kenya. All commercial banks have a mobile banking/agency solution. To carve out a niche for ourselves in the industry, we focused on developing solutions that are interoperable and can serve several institutions or even cross- border subsidiaries”, reveals Hussein Dida, CEO of PayConnect during an interview with StartUp Magazine.
According to the executive, the firm operates with two models when selling out solutions. “The outright purchase model where the institution pays for the license as well as the annual maintenance fee and the Revenue share model that requires the client to pay for the installation cost but not license fee.”
“Revenue share model works well for institutions that do not want to tie their capital but would prefer to have a joint venture with us. We provide the solution and they bring clients on board,” he adds.
PayConnect runs agency banking applications that work on android devices, a major change from traditional applications currently used by most FinTechs that strictly work on POS devices. This shift, he says; has lowered the cost of rolling out their solutions.
PayConnect has also been in the limelight for pioneering the use of a nationwide biometric system in South Sudan in partnership with development agencies. “Our biometric solution is user-friendly with de-duplication check.”
“We own our IPs meaning we do not sell third party IPs. Our solutions are futuristic, scalable and modular,” adds Mr. Dida.
Asked how they enhance security of their systems, the youthful CEO says, “We are keen on hiring competent and professional staff members who safeguard our integrity. Furthermore, all our solutions are cloud-based and the mobile devices used to access our apps at the organization level are tied to IMEI numbers thus improving security.”
Despite PayConnect’s success in the market, the CEO admits that they have had their own share of challenges.
The company was established on the eve of an election year. “This was a bad timing,” he observed, “institutions were not investing in systems and the economy was at standstill. We had to survive until the economy accelerated.’’ He, however; reveals that this did not break them. “We took advantage of the slow market to mature our systems and make them stable as well as scalable.”
Drawing from his immense professional experience in business development, marketing and IT, Mr. Dida believes that managing a FinTech company demands patience and creativity. “You need patience. You have to develop innovative systems that will give your clients a competitive edge.”
He also points out reliability as a key ingredient for the success of any FinTech company. “Reliability and stability of our system gives our clients a competitive edge.”
After- sale service is another pertinent issue that he thinks will steer the growth of any FinTech firm, “You must always be available to offer clients support at any moment. At PayConnect, we do not have public holidays. We are available 24/7 to offer support to our clients,” he says.
Mr. Dida foresees a movement towards face recognition and IRIS as a form of identification. “We are focusing on this technology to remain ahead of our competitors,” he says.
He also envisions setting up an innovation hub within the firm and steering a team that will be developing Artificial intelligence and other futuristic solutions. “This will place us at the centre of new innovations,” he expresses his optimism.
“With emergence of small fintech players, we see a lot of demand in terms of technology from our clients while the budgets keep on shrinking,” he observes.
However, that does not spell doom for the future. To stay ahead, “clients need to invest in the right technology that will work for them for at least 5 years. They should also focus on the technical aspect, the problems it can solve and the competitive advantage it will offer them besides pricing,” he concludes.