MOHAMMAD AYAZ

Mexico 2020 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mohammad Ayaz, CEO of PayNways, on entering the market, payment systems in Mexico, and objectives for the year ahead.

Which opportunities in the market motivated you to enter the Mexican payments market?

We did our research and used our experience in the banking sector to identify three particular areas to enter. In short, there are three main developments that motivated us to enter Mexico. One is the start of the fintech initiative by the Mexican government. This shows that Mexico is moving toward digital payments and opening up the economy. Secondly, in 2019 the Central Bank introduced CODI payments to enable those at the bottom of the pyramid to participate in the payments ecosystem. Moreover, the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) recently published its open banking resolution. All of this pushed us to enter the digital payments area in Mexico, where we are now working with a few players.

How do you plan to break down the complexity of payment systems for businesses in Mexico?

The important thing is to break down the complexity and provide a simple offering to any player in the entire spectrum of the payment cycle. That is our key differentiator. We are always looking at how we can make the process easier for an end customer who has a mobile to handle electronic payments without training. We are bringing automation by experience so that we do not increase the number of people required to do the same operations but refine it and make it into a consistent approach. The contributing factor in Mexico is that there is a mature payments system here; not every country has the level of real time payments like Mexico. Mexico is now moving forward by changing the players and system, and introducing new fintech and banking regulations to open up the market and attract new players. Moreover, the Central Bank is open to moving things to the cloud. Once you open such opportunities to the private sector, agility will come automatically.

Do you agree that when it comes to digital payments systems, Mexico is ahead of other countries?

Yes, and this is why everyone is looking at Mexico as the main driver for the entire Latin American market. This is a good place for the country to be in.

What other markets has PayNways entered?

At present, we have a presence in the US and India. We want to expand into Southeast Asia and the Middle East and are in discussions with stakeholders in the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Dubai in the UAE. We were expecting to close a deal in the Philippines by the end of 2020 but we have to push that back because of the pandemic. We have taken a step back to understand how we can better take advantage of the present and devise better and stronger expansion strategies. In the near future, you will see PayNways expand into a number of markets.

In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business model and how have you adapted?

We were semi-digital in terms of presence so it has not impacted us too much. That said, it did impact our business. We had to push back some of the agreements and slow down our expansion plans. We have to wait and see how different regions and countries will cope with the pandemic. We decided it was better to take this time to strengthen our products and offering. We have introduced a number of digital payment offerings such as digital wallets. Moreover, with the number of cyberattacks increasing, we decided to work on the security of our payment processes. We started these initiatives to bring more stability and scalability.

In what ways are the digital payments market in India and Mexico similar?

India was one of the first country to start QR payments along with China. India and Mexico share a lot of cultural similarities, which brings a lot of cohesiveness between people. Our key focus area is how to become a local company in every country that we go and ensure that we have a local presence with local staff. It is always key to bringing in best practices but at the same time adapting to the needs of local markets, which is a challenge for a lot of companies. If you don't adapt to the local market, it is hard to create a strong global impression.

What are some of the challenges you faced in the Mexican market?

Our team in Mexico features some people who are famous and well known in the Mexican banking fraternity. They have been working in the banking sector for the past 30 years and we have used their networks to establish our presence. This allowed us to avoid many challenges in the beginning. Bringing in the best local practices and our global experience helped us to move faster.

What is your advice for business leaders in terms of focus and investment in these times of uncertainty?

First of all, as a responsible business leader, our foremost responsibility is to keep all people safe and to reduce stress by engaging them in initiatives and activities. These are the key areas where we as business leaders should act. This will be our focus for the next couple of months until we receive news about a vaccine. Everyone is trying to figure out a way to fight the virus. One thing is for sure: if something similar in the future happens, people will be better prepared to face it.

What are your objectives and goals for the rest of the year?

Our goal is to be known as the niche payments player in the Mexican market as we expand globally. We are evaluating our strategy on how to launch ourselves as a fintech with offering we can have within the Mexican market. We are trying to position our products according to the CNBV's open banking regulations. In the near future, we plan to consolidate our offering and offer ourselves as a fintech partner to for banks and other institutions.