“[When] you decide to go head on with giant global leaders such as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard, people will tell you how crazy you are to decide to do so,” says Thomas Pays (33) who is the founder of i-Pay, a payment solution which launched in 2014.
Johannesburg-based i-Pay is an instant EFT payment service that makes it possible to transact with online merchants without the use of a credit card. The solution allows customers can make secure online payments directly into a bank account in real-time.
Despite the naysayers, Pays says he and his team were motivated by the desire to shake up the market and offer a new payment solution that would be more user-friendly and innovative than credit cards.
The startup also has its eyes set on launching in Nigeria and Kenya this year, this is according to an ITWeb interview Pays gave last month.
Nigeria because of its high level of credit card fraud and scams makes it an attractive market for electronic funds transfer (EFT) payment service, Pays said in the interview.
We talk to Pays about the ups and downs of launching and running a fin-tech startup, and why you should never settle for less than what you are worth.
On having a unique value proposition and growth plans
There are some competitors that offer a quarter of what we offer, however we have no competitors worldwide that provide a full solution like us for payment across Point of Sales (POS), online payment, SMS and integration in accounting softwares.
We will use this innovative edge to grow and expand globally as we also gain more momentum through strategic partnerships.
Our plan in the next two years is to consolidate our presence in the nine most strategic countries in Africa, such as Nigeria and Kenya ahead of our Europe launch in three years.
- On challenges and hurdles
It took us quite a few months to educate the market about our innovative payment solution. [That] was the biggest hurdle.
This is not has been my first startup, however, I would say that the struggle you have to go through in order to make a success of a fin-tech startup was the biggest surprise, and not a good one, until today.
- On funding
i-Pays has been funded fully by myself.
- On success factors
Our team and constant innovation. We put consumers first and build our product around them to make their lives better.
- On the South African startup ecosystem
I look at it today, compared to a few years back, and it has actually really started blossoming. There is a lot of initiatives happening in the country from Silicon Cape to The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and even accelerators like Techstars.
What we lack today are great entrepreneurs and innovative ideas.
- On lessons learnt
Do not start a business to make money. Do it for the love and passion of it, as money will then follow. Most importantly, never settle for less than what you are worth.
One word I understand today which I wish I understood the value and importance of in business a few year back is ‘optimisation’. It is the key to success.