An ambitious step towards a cashless society

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Zatiq, an innovative Bangladeshi startup that aims to advance Digital Bangladesh by building a truly cashless society, has been working on developing a card delivery service, Zatiq Pocket Pay. This allows customers to pay with their cards on delivery. This writer sat down with the Zatiq team to learn more about their vision, modus operandi, and funding.
It is neither a bank nor a mobile financial service (MFS), rather it is a digital payment infrastructure that makes it easier and faster for consumers to pay with methods other than cash, such as bank or MFS .
“We divided the market segment into three categories and started building three products based on their needs,” CEO Sultan Moni said. “In segment A, there is delivery, e-commerce and f-commerce, while in segment 2, there are purchases and in-store transactions; and in segment 3, there are micro merchants, merchants out of urban areas, rickshaw and CNG drivers and other small merchants.We have only launched the product for A-segment for now “PocketPay”.Our target is to create the fastest and cheapest payment method in Bangladesh through the local payment network of Bangladesh.”
The proposed process requires carrying a device in your pocket, however, carrying a device in your pocket seems like a tedious process. It is possible that this process will not become popular at the mass level. The Zatiq team has already thought about the question. They consulted with multiple companies, conducted numerous tests combining multiple segments, and found that A-segment (logistics, delivery) companies trust customers who pay through a physical POS machine more than other methods while giving company management more control over remote transactions.
“Initially, we don’t expect pocket payment to be popular among industries outside of this industry and we have other products designed for other industries to specifically meet their needs. Our upcoming project “Bangladesh’s first local smart wallet” will remove the restriction of carrying hardware for other sectors,” she hopes.
Any digital device and system is vulnerable to cyberattacks and hacking. This also constitutes an obstacle to the proliferation of such electronic systems. Naturally, the Zatiq team was asked about security features and anti-theft options.
“Right now we’re just selling the hardware with a card reader, but through partnerships we’ll be able to get EMVCo, PCI, VisaPayWave, and Mastercard payment card authorization and certification, which secures the hardware for reading the card details.Once the card information is read, it is up to the payment gateway or the merchant’s bank to process the payment.We have partnered with payment gateways and banks to offer exclusive pricing to customers who do not wish to connect their own payment gateway or do not have one of their own.”
Zatiq raised a pre-seed throughout the year from investors in the United States and Canada to develop the product and bring it to market. The team is currently gearing up for a seed round and has garnered interest from local and overseas venture capitalists (VCs) and angel investors to further invest in the startup.
The question remains, what real impact will Zatiq create in the overall society in Bangladesh can be an intriguing catch. However, the Zatiq team believes that the popularity of MFS in Bangladesh shows that Bangladesh is ready for a cashless society and the economy can benefit immensely. It hasn’t been widespread like in India because we haven’t been able to equip enough merchants to accept digital payments. Wherever it has been implemented, whether card POS or MFS, it has been used and adapted.
“We have more bank accounts in Bangladesh than twice the population of Canada and more card circulation than the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Hong Kong combined, but our bank card usage is lower than MFS. friction between people to withdraw money from their bank account and top up an MFS e-wallet, many people still do this every day to be able to pay without using cash,” says Fahim Al Mahmud, CTO .
“Less than 10% of businesses in Bangladesh are equipped to accept any type of direct payment by bank card. You cannot pay with your bank card everywhere. There is more MFS usage than card usage in Bangladesh as more merchants are able to accept MFS payments by simply putting a QR code in their store.We are building the infrastructure through which all merchants can accept all forms of digital payments instantly, whether directly from their bank account or their MFS account or other e-wallets in the future merchants are going to be bank account friendly and not all merchants will be MFS friendly, we want to expand the ability to accept all types of digital payment instantly for traders across Bangladesh, only then can we achieve the vision of a cashless society,” adds Fahim Al Ma hmud.
Zatiq is just launching the vision with PocketPay designed for the logistics and delivery segment. To turn the Bangladeshi dream of a cashless society into a real possibility, they have developed other products to move money in Bangladesh locally, instantly and cheaply without the need for additional hardware.
PocketPay is currently sold for a maximum of 5,000 Tk per device while offering a different price depending on the size of the order. Therefore, Zatiq has the potential to be a game-changer in the financial sector of our country. These ambitious startups need the patronage of investors and users to thrive.

The author is a third year economics student at the University of Dhaka.
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