Creating distinct and vibrant digital payment alternatives

January 25, 2022 | 13:33
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With the rise in easily accessible digital payment methods, an increasing number of merchants are beginning to accept alternative payments, in addition to cash. Marek Forysiak, chairman of SmartPay, talked with VIR’s Phuong Thu about the firm’s e-payment journey.

SmartPay has just supported around $8.7 million for Vietnamese small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), while other e-wallets focused on incentives to end-users. Why did SmartPay favour this group of customers?

Creating distinct and vibrant digital payment alternatives
Marek Forysiak, chairman of SmartPay

Since its establishment, SmartPay has chosen a different mission and direction to accompany the prosperous development of millions of Vietnamese small businesses. Until now, SmartPay is still the first and only payment platform to invest in and support retail merchants who are being neglected in the process of digitalisation.

Retailers now account for nearly 30 per cent of SmartPay’s frequent customer base – that is nearly 600,000 retailers of around two million users – more than other e-wallets. Offering interest-free credit lines through an e-wallet platform is also associated with SmartPay’s distinct competitive advantage in the vibrant digital payment market.

During the process, SmartPay continuously surveys and listens to the concerns of SMEs. We found that after the long social distancing, they fell into a state of exhaustion, lack of capital, decreased revenues, and lost connection with customers. So, we had to come up with many solutions since then.

Retail SMEs continue to face difficulties as they do not have enough working capital to import goods for the busiest trading season of the year, find ways to pay business fees and wonder whether to open their business. Understanding the precarious life of small traders, SmartPay has decided to providet this support.

This move will not bring immediate profits for SmartPay. What are your expectations for the effectiveness of this credit package?

In Vietnam, SMEs and micro-businesses are the backbone of the economy, accounting for 97 per cent of the total number, contributing 45 per cent to GDP. Supporting this group of customers to develop sustainably and prosper is how SmartPay contributes to the economy and society. Through reviving small businesses, SmartPay also hopes to bring many values and digital services to consumers, contributing to the government’s effort in building a cashless payment society.

To promote non-cash payments, only supporting small businesses is not enough. What answers does SmartPay have to promote e-wallet spending by consumers?

The decline in income of urban residents also negatively affects the purchasing power and future of small businesses. Therefore, SmartPay has simultaneously launched a promotion programme for e-wallet users through a game. By joining the game, users will receive countless vouchers and cashback incentives, both helping them to fully shop for Lunar New Year and save money while contributing to stimulating consumption for small businesses.

Besides financial support, what other assistance does SmartPay have for small businesses and consumers?

After 30 years of working in the financial industry, I spent a lot of time with the technology team, because I understand that tech will help small businesses put their stores online to reach customers. Over the past year, we have continuously launched many utilities to help retailers respond quickly to the pandemic.

In November 2020, SmartPay introduced the Smart Shopping and Selling feature, allowing merchants to post information, promote products, and chat with potential customers near the point of sale. It was built as an e-commerce platform for nearly 600,000 small businesses and two million consumers. Small businesses can also increase revenues when they reach a community of 43.4 million customers from 36 banks associated with SmartPay and 10 million customers from Sendo.

Last year, SmartPay also expanded cooperation with Vietcombank, VPBank, MBBank, and LienVietPostBank, allowing users to scan SmartPay QR codes on the banking app. At the peak of the pandemic, cashless transactions flourished, and SmartPay pioneered the launch of new touch and pay feature, using NFC core technology. Individuals using the SmartPay wallet only need to put the back of the smartphone on the merchant’s phone to pay for all transactions.

SmartPay is witnessing rapid growth after only two years since its launch. Entering 2022, how do you plan to develop further?

We want SmartPay to be not just a simple application, but to become a universal payment acceptance platform trusted by Vietnamese merchants. Every feature and service created is geared towards creating flourishing values for customers in each transaction.

SmartPay aims to become a cashless payment platform connecting merchants, banks, and users to create the largest closed ecosystem in Vietnam. To achieve this, we are oriented towards the trend of embedded finance in other partners’ platforms. By strengthening cooperation with reputable institutions and platforms, we will attract their customers.

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