Interview with Pay&Go: The Online Bill Payment Company

What happens when you order from an online marketplace? Do you choose to pay by cash-on delivery or do you opt for online e-payment?

Most locals in the Kingdom are more comfortable with choosing to pay by cash-on delivery, but we see a big surge of companies setting up shops in Cambodia to encourage locals to switch to online payment methods because it is fast, easy and secure.

Geeks in Cambodia sat down with Jim, General Manager of Pay&Go to find out what exactly makes such services worthy of our attention and how this will be the future of payments in the country.

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This interview has been edited for length, clarity and flow.

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Hello Jim, shall we start with what Pay&Go does?

Pay&Go is a bill-payment processing company. We started in 2013 and are still relatively small but rapidly growing. We have a bit bigger exposure to the market now than before, so people now know more about what we do.

What we do as a company is we provide the people with the possibilities to make bill payments online and on the go through all the channels of Pay&Go that we have. Which includes a mobile application called PayGo Wallet available for free on AppStore and Google Play market, Pay&Go kiosks, the desktop application and the website paygo24.com where customers are able to make all the bill payments. That is in brief what our company does.

What do you think of the growth of such e-payment services in Cambodia in the next few years?

Well, I think it is growing rapidly. We can see there are many companies trying to do something similar to Pay&Go, or at least are doing something that could reflect or result in growing into something called rational competence in the market of Mobile payments, which is always good as it gives more freedom of choice to the end users.

We have meetings and talk about possible partnership with representatives of various companies that entered the market of bill payments, e-money or remittance, etc. If talking about remittance for example. I think in the long term, we will have a hypothetical chance to create one unique eco-system where there will be no difference of an incoming point of customer’s money as the customers will be able to claim it through different company’s end but using the same eco system. I think in 3-5 years, Cambodia is going to be technologically advanced remittance and mobile payment wise.

How does your company plan to encourage the community in Cambodia to move from traditional cash on delivery to mostly online money payments?

It took us time to encourage people to use our service. In addition, what we have tried to do so far is to perpetuate the idea that making payments right now does not require the user to always carry cash and actually make their way up to a point where they would have to make the payment using cash in the wallet.

To encourage people to use our services we always try to take part in different social events. We are now working with BarCamp closely being a sponsor to their events and um, we are making sure that we have exposure in all major universities in Cambodia. By doing so we want to make sure that students now have at least one of our channels of making payments, which is our kiosks that are available in all major universities and other educational institutions.

We have stationed our staff at vastly populated areas where there are many young prospective end-users. We just share our knowledge on how payments are made and how easy it is, how convenient it will be and can be for them to use our services in the future and at present.

There still is a little gap in understanding of what our company does among the people. Because not a lot of people in Cambodia basically have smartphones as of yet. Those with smart phones now are located in the Capital mostly. In provinces, for instance, it is still pretty challenging, as people do not have any means of smart technology in hand, they do not have smartphones, they have a shortage of internet and computers in rural areas. That is why we have started our services in major provinces like Siem Reap and Battambang and Sihanoukville first. It is now mostly here in Phnom Penh that we try to promote the idea of something that is very fast, secure and technologically advanced. Later we will spread to all provinces as planned.

So as of right now, there is no possible solution for those who are unable to use your app in rural areas right?

Well, the answer is yes and no. There is a mobile app called PayGo Wallet which is available on the AppStore and in Google PlayMarket for free, it’s very simple and user friendly. Moreover, it is available everywhere.
One drawback is that we do not yet have the cash-in points in all provinces, so that the people could deposit some money to their wallets and actually try our application out.

In provinces, people do not have this common vibe where information is shared with each other. It is more of a customary thing, when people tend to do things that their parents tell them to do. A person buying a scratch card will always do that; unless the lightning strikes or something happens then he will be like yes, now I can do it on my smartphone and stuff like that.

What is the biggest setback that you think companies have here in terms of introducing new technologies, etc.?

We have to take into account the fact that promoting something technological or something innovative to local people is very challenging as a lot is based on the traditions and customs and behaviors of people from the past. That could create an obstacle for any company entering into the technology or online payment scene. Of course, to us, there were several challenges as well. One of them was to see if the e-commerce or online payments existed at all.
When we analyzed the market before entering it, there was relatively nothing, nothing that we could have had any communication with to obtain data for analysis. Simply there was nothing, it was a challenge for us to enter the market. We have had some rough paths with some Telcos where they would not be that willing to kind of let you have that service. “Just buy scratch cards and be happy you have them available.”

However, we did not want to do that. We wanted and still want to have the chance to allow people to make instant payments and get their money within seconds and not to buy scratch cards where they have to enter 14 digits and if a simple typo occurs nothing works.

The lack of education was surprising. To us, it was surprising that people did not know how to make payments in general. They did not know what a cash-back was or how the transaction was made.

People expected a refund within minutes, if the payment failed for some reason, which normally does not happen and it was more of something challenging and new to us that people simply did not know. Moreover, it is not that they are lazy or uneducated, they have simply never had the experience of doing anything like that. Of course, we have had a lot of positive feedback from people that we are doing a good job by introducing something new to people and that is very important to our company until today.

We did not want to just make money, when we came to Cambodia. We thought that it is not right that the country only has one payment system and people basically have no choice and no other alternative so we thought it would be a lot better if we didn’t have one and not even two but several companies, people with different services under their own brand and device or different approach.

Up till now, we are still facing the need of having to give time-consuming explanations to people, either it’s through our media on Facebook or phone calls or even visits on site, because we have staff visiting our potential or existing dealers on a daily basis.

What advice would you have for young Cambodians to actually embrace the new technologies or new methods of doing things?

We would recommend for the younger generation to be more open to something new and not to be afraid of making mistakes. I know it might cost you some money at the very early stage if you are trying to do something with the money, but still you have to stay open and be somewhere in the social environment where something new happens regularly and is shared currently with everyone around. I think that to most young Cambodian students or people aged 16-20, it would be a lot easier to understand how things work if they do a little bit of their own research as well. Do not just follow someone’s advice by downloading the app if you do not know if it is worth it or not.

Cambodian students could read the pre-introductory notes about the app and not refer to it as a thing that is cool to have on your phone, having no idea how it works, but more of “I want to have it, because I want to make my life easier” and “I know it is going to be very convenient and fast”. They could then pass this information onto other people. They should have the thought: “I can actually explain and there is worth in what I’m doing. We are not after the trend; we are after convenience comfort and safety of our daily payments”

The most important thing for the youth is not for them to follow the trend because it is temporary but more of being into the type of things that you can get to know better and then you can share it with other people and to change their minds from receiving information from one source (television, media people etc.) only.

Be open to new ideas, try, make mistakes, read, think and re-do stuff in a better way.

What are some future plans for Pay&Go?

We have a new additional service that we introduced to our users. It is virtual MasterCard that we have managed to offer to our users with the help of our partnering ABA Bank.
It is a perfect way for non-bank customers to be able to make on-line purchases. Users will have to provide the detailed information about themselves in order to create a Virtual MasterCard. This is something new and something unique that we are working on.

Pay&Go by the end of 2016 hopes to get more kiosks in Cambodia. We hope to raise the customer base of end-users to a certain point where we would reach the target we have planned. We would do our best to stay in contact and make sure that all the companies, which are relatively connected in financial services, are going to be together as one union and make sure the incoming and outgoing points will be available everywhere and to everyone.

We want to make better connections with local banks, because as of now, we are only working with a partnering bank that is ABA. However, we want to have a possibility for Cambodians to have the eco-environment where all the banks are linked and we are also a part of that big family.

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To find out more about what Pay&Go does and how you can get involved in the e-payment service, visit their Facebook page and website.