M’sian Startup Creating A Universal Cashless Payment App

Author’s Blurb: Cashless payment apps, to me, are like debit and credit cards. I have always sorted my cashless payment apps only into a folder where I can easily access them, much like a wallet. However, my real debit and credit cards, I would keep them in my Apple Wallet. This all feels pretty handy to me until I have to switch between app tabs just to make a payment.

With the growing landscape of electronic wallets in Malaysia, especially during the pandemic, how do you manage them beyond just organizing records?

Joel Wijesuria saw the urgent need to fix this problem and as a result MercuryPay was born.

Launched as a simple aggregator of electronic wallets, MercuryPay is now a universal cashless payment platform with a fintech market built around it.

It serves as an umbrella wallet not only for your e-wallet apps, but also for your cryptocurrency wallets, debit and credit cards, and online banking.

In essence, this allows you to overcome the problem of merchants not using your preferred electronic payment method.

More electronic wallets = / = Choice

While we have a plethora of payment apps to choose from, Joel doesn’t see this as a blessing but rather as an illusion.

He believes that the power of choice is taken away from him because the mode of payment is prescribed to us by the merchants.

Think about how you sometimes want to pay with a specific e-wallet, but a merchant says they don’t accept it. At the end of the day, you pay in cash or with your debit card.

“MercuryPay gives back this power of choice by allowing consumers to connect their preferred payment methods in the app and by ensuring that these payment methods work consistently across all of our participating merchants and at merchants in the Visa network,” Joel said.

Convenience aside, the team wants to go beyond recognition as an umbrella wallet.

A fintech marketplace is currently being integrated into the app, where fintech products and services can connect.

User dashboard on MercuryPay / Image credits: MercuryPay

In addition, this new functionality would also integrate financial management as a tab of your assets and liabilities as well as a robo-advisory service.

This one-stop-shop experience comes at a price, however.

While MercuryPay intends to provide affordability of financial convenience for its market, this service is subscription based.

Subscriptions include a physical card, virtual cards, single-use cards and, optionally, special personal and comprehensive insurance, all billed at a nominal subscription fee payable, monthly or annually.

Facilitate adoption by merchants

Although the app is created on the basis of increasing consumer power in the e-wallet scene, it is also designed to support traders.

To achieve this balance, MercuryPay is changing the way merchants receive transactions.

Merchants would only need two accounts, one with MercuryPay and one with their own bank.

When registering, merchants can opt for a static printed QR code or receive a dynamic QR code.

“By mid-2021, we will have implemented several key technologies that will allow users and merchants to make and receive payments without using a smart device and without using data or other internet connection,” said Joel said.

Merchants are currently already receiving SMS payment alert notifications, eliminating the need to use a smart device with data or an internet connection onsite.

This innovation is due to a few limitations that they recognized on the merchant side:

  • Rent or buy hardware or software solutions,
  • Maintain the above solutions,
  • Poor quality or lack of internet connectivity.

If MercuryPay were to ask merchants for them, it could be a barrier to its adoption.

Therefore, these innovations were made to target traders everywhere, from the most remote areas to high density areas.

The inner workings of Mercury

Having a universal platform for everything finance related that isn’t your own bank can be daunting considering how new such an app is.

So we asked Joel how MercuryPay would inspire user confidence.

“I can’t go into too much detail about the security features that we have designed in the application at the user level, but at the infrastructure level we are using a distributed and highly available architecture which will maintain different types. customer data in different places, all encrypted with different encryption keys, ”said Joel.

For example, user transaction data will not be stored in the same location as user profiles, which will not be stored in the same location as user accounts.

“Credit card details are stored in a highly secure safe and, for added security, are transmitted directly from the user’s app on their device to their safe. Customer payment card details never pass through our infrastructure at all, ”he added.

According to Joel, MercuryPay is certified PCI-DSS compliant, GDPA and PDPA compliant, and compliant with local privacy laws in Southeast Asia.

The future of financial inclusion

MercuryPay does not exactly match any of the existing regulatory and licensing frameworks in Malaysia and the SEA region.

As regulators become more familiar with a financial service as such and impose restrictions, MercuryPay may no longer find itself navigating calm waters.

Currently, they are communicating more with regulators and central banks on their system to help them understand the application’s place in the market.

“What we envision is for MercuryPay to become a pioneer in helping to define and design a new wave of regulations that make Asian payments and the cashless ecosystem safer and more inclusive,” said Joel.

The team also wants to play a leadership role in making FinTech accessible to underserved and even unserved communities through EES.

Joel and Rish, the two key members behind MercuryPay / Image Credit: MercuryPay

“Our goal is to reach and include these ‘forgotten’ communities in the modern financial ecosystem starting with the adoption of payments and financial literacy,” he added.

To do this, they are currently communicating with international and local organizations working with these communities to see how they can fit into their livelihoods.

Conclusion: I think it’s really interesting to learn how this team is constantly finding different ways to develop. A good example is to conduct their transactions offline. Many current fintech solutions still exclude those in remote areas, so by targeting underserved and unserved people, MercuryPay has the potential to bridge the gap.

  • You can read more about MercuryPay here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Joel Wijesuria, CEO of MercuryPay

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Jothi Venkat

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