In Egypt, one company is challenging the widespread aversion to online credit card usage by crafting a secure e-payment platform for Egypt’s consumers.
After three years of research and development, Wallety, owned by Cloud Lock International, recently launched to make online payments easier, more reliable, and more secure for Egypt’s merchants, banks, and consumers.
CEO Malak Mitch and the Wallety team first came together to start an online ticketing platform for events and concerts in Egypt, but ran into a major hurdle when it came to payments – there was no trusted e-payment platform in Egypt at the time. Mitch realized that this same problem was also affecting other aspiring e-commerce entrepreneurs, so he and his team refocused to solve this new dilemma.
Wallety works to secure the identity of the credit card holder, ensuring that only the true owner of a credit card is using the payment method. Once you input your information, Wallety maintains a partial record of your credit card, asking for the last four digits of the card and the CVC number to confirm a transaction. The decision to maintain a partial record is also a security feature; were someone to penetrate their encrypted system, they would not find any complete, usable information.
Thus far, the startup is quickly making a name for itself among Egyptian banks and merchants, with over 50 merchants signed up since July.
Their “acquiring bank,” the Arab African International Bank (AAIB), is Wallety’s main banking partner. The service requires that all participating merchants open up an account with the AAIB to be eligible for Wallety’s service. This may seem limiting, but Wallety is in talks with other banks in Egypt to offer more account options for merchants. Wallety immediately deposits the online payments into these accounts.
To monetize, Wallety charges users 10 Egyptian Pounds (less than US $2) per year for each card; users are allowed to have up to three cards to their name. With such a small amount, it may take Wallety some time to break even, but in the long run, if they reach several million users, the revenue should make for a sustainable platform.
There are a few other ePayment platforms in the region, but Wallety doesn’t see any major direct competition locally. Mitch explains that much of their indirect competition comes from scratch-off cards offered by other services, includingCashU, a familiar payment tool for many in Egypt.
But Wallety’s biggest competition may be on the horizon. PayPal recently partnered with Aramex’s Shop and Ship in their move towards the Arab world,enabling merchant accounts in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and Oman, with plans to target the Egyptian market next year.
In the meantime, Wallety continues to build trust and customer loyalty; Wallety and their merchant partners offer specific discounts each month for online purchases through the Wallety platform.
Obstacles & Expansion
Mitch explains that many banks in Egypt block credit card use online, afraid that customers will call asking for a refund, complaining that they never made certain payments.
Wallety is trying to alleviate this fear by confirming consumers’ identities for banks and reducing the need for refunds (also known as chargebacks). “Since we opened last July, not a single chargeback happened. Not because we are Superman, but because of the concept,” Mitch explains.
As they move in to the New Year, Wallety has plans to expand horizontally and vertically, both firming up deals with banking partners in new countries and adding features to the platform, including automatic recurring online payments for bills. For now, they are looking to partner with several new banks in Egypt to encourage competition and empower the platform.
Wallety is hoping to empower regional e-commerce on the whole and overcome traditional banking challenges by making online payment more reliable and secure.
“We cannot do this alone,” says Mitch. “We need to encourage entrepreneurs in the Middle East to start their own e-commerce websites. We need their help and, if they need our help, we’ll be there.”