The coronavirus pandemic might help to achieve India’s stated goals of creating a less-cash economy and enhancing financial inclusion. Shoppers at even neighborhood stores now want contactless digital payments and that demand dovetails with what lenders want in lieu of working capital loans - digital invoices and online transaction records.
The multi currency, multinational payment processor PayQ, which is now active in India in a sandbox environment along with other leading UPI player have started to tap into the new customer trend who relies deeply on smartphone access for online payments. Financial companies are leveraging this opportunity to meet demand through digital media.
PayQ Founder Shibabrata Bhaumik is fond of Indian Financial regulators like RBI and SEBI who encourage the innovation in the Fintech space by allowing start-ups to experiment in ‘sandboxes’ that will offer them temporary regulatory protection especially during the pandemic stage.
As regulators like RBI and SEBI develop the framework for these sandboxes, UK-based fintech start-up PayQ now wants to be allowed into these sandboxes to get more comfortable with financial transactions for domestic as well as cross border transactions. Shibabrata’s Fintech start up PayQ, headquartered at London, which is growing at breakneck speed, is known for implementing block chain for Frictionless Payments and has surged $1.2 billion in the last financial year.
Shibabrata says, “As regulators and state governments here in India have set up sandboxes for Fintech companies and they are providing relaxation, we are working with them to open the sandboxes and operate within the guidelines.”
Sandboxes are regulatory safe havens created for Fintech start-ups to operate in. They allow live testing of new products or services on real customers in a controlled environment. If these experiments are successful and PayQ grows to a pre-determined scale, PayQ will soon exit the sandbox to operate in the open market under full regulatory supervision and will compete with the major UPI payment players like PhonePe and PayTm.
PayQ’s digital payment platform also includes digital billing to even geotagging, Shibabrata believes that merchant digitization business will boom when the lockdown eases. PayQ also deals with merchant account for high risk businesses like payment gateway for tech support, Merchant account for Pharmacy and aims to go beyond the traditional payment method to revolutionize the e-commerce industry.
Shibabrata announced small ticket credit to PayQ Merchants like Kirana Shops and small businesses. PayQ is the latest entrant to the club of Paytm, PhonePe and BharatPe, with the company announcing its ambitions to lend in a filing with local regulators. PayQ is unlikely to play for runners’ and players like Paytm and Phonepe will have to aggressively defend their crowns.
The CEO of PayQ, Shibabrata Bhaumik is a young first-generation entrepreneur, who has developed application programme interfaces (APIs) for India’s ambitious Unified Payments Interface (UPI). He says, “Working with the government is not so difficult. It has been an enriching experience. Your credibility depends on your delivery of performance. The payments landscape is going to change fundamentally”.
The game of entrepreneurship has changed substantially during COVID19 and players have to change. Founders have to be immersed in two things: the messiness of the problem and that of the new infrastructure.
While Paytm, Google Pay, Naspers-owned PayU and other players were aggressively trying to rope in small businesses on their platform, as B2B does not bleed the business, the big scramble is for over 60 million small businesses. PayQ and Shibabrata is trying to get them hooked to the PayQ payment gateway and then offering them a host of services, including loans, and easy payment acceptance and settlement to small businesses incuding Kirana shops and that would lead to an intense battle, where incumbents could face the heat.
Moreover, the PayQ’s entry to India comes at a very opportune time. During the lockdown, several questions have been raised about the readiness of the Indian grassroots system to allow its small businesses to participate in an end-to-end digital ecosystem that powers content, transactions and finally, payments and fulfillment. With this one move, PayQ have clearly sent out signals to take on the giants in the payments, content and ecommerce spaces, simultaneously.
PayQ’s entry portends well for India, as it is likely to bring more serious and diversified investors in the country, reducing its reliance on Chinese money. However the Indian consumer will be the final and the ultimate deal-seeker yet demands the best user experience at the lowest cost. Though PayQ has grown exponentially on adoption of new territory starting from United Kingdom to diversifying its merchant acquisition to European Union and then stepping to Asian Countries but its business models is still evolving. With economic growth slowing down and consumer demand in India tempered, Shibabrata Bhaumik’s PayQ is at an interesting crossroads.
Given all this snitching, the final test will be “how does PayQ appeal to the end user?”
In style and philosophy, Shibabrata Bhaumik, the 36-year-old founder and CEO of PayQ, is in the camp of the financial anarchists. He sits, jammed alongside Developers, Payment Technology Experts and Data Scientists, in a row of tiny desks resembling library carrels and he prefers to sit and work with the team around their desk not like a typical CEO with fancy cabin. He wears a black Business Tuxedo, Classic Red and Black Check Tie, black pants and gloss polished black formal shoes. He talks about a brave new world in which we are liberated from the shackles of giant banks and government-controlled money supplies. The CEO of PayQ, Shibabrata Bhaumik is a young first generation entrepreneur, who has developed application programme interfaces (APIs) for India’s ambitious Unified Payments Interface (UPI), it has been an enriching experience. “Working with the government is not so difficult,” he says. “Your credibility depends on your delivery of performance. The payments landscape is going to change fundamentally".
The multi currency, multi national payment processor PayQ, which is now active in India in a sandbox environment along with other leading UPI player have started to tap into the new customer trend who relies deeply on smartphone access for online payments. Financial companies are leveraging this opportunity to meet demand through digital media.
During an expansive interview, this usually reserved and the press-shy entrepreneur declares why he got into this business: “I wanted the world to have a global, open financial system that drove innovation and freedom.” In the following business model, though, Shibabrata fits in with the pinstriped financiers working down the block.
Born at Kolkata, India to an engineer Father, Shibabrata displayed an entrepreneurial streak as early as grade school. He recalls being hauled into the principal’s office on charges of operating a candy-reselling venture on the playground. The business flings continued with a scheme to resell used computers and, after he earned a master’s degree in 2006 in International Business, he started a web development business from India for overseas clients. Later, he also tried to do few export-import and bilateral trade exhibition business but didn’t turn out that great and lost a fortune and met racket of scammers from Agra, India in 2011 who defamed Shibabrata and his family and charged false allegations on him. However, the young entrepreneur didn’t loose his hope and his sprit was always positive against all odds.
In 2012, Shibabrata read the manifesto by a European Union Bank that proposed card payments of Visa, Mastercard & the future Fintech companies will have limitless possibilities and bitcoin as an underground currency. Its transactions are recorded on a ledger called the blockchain, maintained in duplicated computer files by a band of self-appointed guardians called nodes. Disputes about transactions and ground rules are resolved by majority vote. The nodes are kept honest, and troublemakers at bay, by requiring a participant in the network to engage in some arithmetic busywork before certifying a batch of transactions. A node that completes the arithmetic task is awarded a few new coins.
The busywork, called mining, did not interest Shibabrata. But he did see an opportunity in the business of safeguarding the keys to the coins and setting up transactions. Working weekends and late nights, Shibabrata and his Developing Team created a Payment gateway to process high volume transactions and connected the nodes with the acquiring bank and launched the first payment portal in 2014 later sold it an EU Bank.
Few Venture capitalists from Russia and Germany, showered 5 million USD on Shibabrta’s innovative approach in 2017 and motivated him to create PayQ, a unique high-risk merchant account company whish uses cryptocurrencies and blockchains to build transaction networks for corporations.
Crypto has been condemned as rat poison by Warren Buffett, as a fraud by Jamie Dimon and the mother of all scams by doomsday economist Nouriel Roubini. Where’s the payoff to the economy?
It’s coming, Bhaumik says. He posits a future in which thousands of startups use crypto to raise capital in a global marketplace no longer controlled by Wall Street firms. Within a decade, he predicts, the number of people participating in the blockchain economy will explode from 50 million to 1 billion. We are destined to enjoy a financial system that is “more global, more fair, more free and more efficient”.
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