What were the biggest challenges in establishing Thawani?
Thawani was officially established in 2016 to create an entirely new market in Oman, not just a new application for payments. There is a big responsibility on our shoulders, as we are creating the foundations for the fintech market here. The idea was born more than eight years ago when we realized that our payment channels might not be able to support massive technological growth in the market, or new concepts and businesses, which were stalling e-commerce companies at the payments phase. We realized something had to be done in this regard and set about gaining an understanding of payments, payment networks, banks, and so on. We then built a strong business model to close most of the gaps we saw in Oman and the region. However, it was difficult to attract investors because there was no way for us to be licensed at the time. This issue is still being resolved today. Getting investors to believe in and support us was perhaps the toughest part of establishing this business. However, we managed to do it by being close to the regulators and investors, addressing their concerns, mitigating the risks, and creating a win-win situation. Being the first means we had to accept many challenges and risks.
What is Thawani's revenue model, and how do you get merchants to use your system?
We only have a per use transaction fee that we charge merchants; we do not charge anything else. To get merchants onboard, we made it easy for them to decide to use Thawani. There is no setup fee or contractual commitment. This helped us considerably because there are no upfront financial implications for them. They can use our platform whenever they want and stop whenever they like. For now, my focus is on merchant and customer acquisition. Every fintech company in the world dreams of going international right away, which is why they are never profitable. They just re-inject whatever money they make into supporting their growth. For the next five years, our main focus is on growth rather than revenue, although revenue is certainly important to us.