On June 9, Pakistan’s Safepay was selected as a winner in the Visa Everywhere Initiative – a worldwide innovation initiative and competition for startups and fintech companies – for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA).
Safepay from Pakistan won the CEMEA Audience Favorite award with the most votes and a $10,000 cash reward. Safepay, a fintech company based in Karachi, was launched in 2019 by Ziyad Parekh and Raza Naqvi with the goal of accelerating the adoption of digital payments in Pakistan by drawing a wave of entrepreneurs interested in accepting online payments from their clients. Safepay is a leader in safe payment processing for eCommerce retailers, assisting merchants in increasing checkout conversions, expediting receivables, and streamlining sales by enabling customers to pay online.
Safepay debuted as a test product in 2019 and the two co-founders immediately scaled to offer online payment services to merchants throughout the country. The services were suspended in 2020 while the company expanded, requiring partnership with other financial institutions and the country’s central bank.
Iman Urooj, Safepay’s Head of Business Development, commented on the win, “Every day at Safepay, we are inspired by the incredible stories we hear from entrepreneurs across Pakistan; we’re only getting started and are ecstatic about what’s to come.” Winning the ‘Audience Favorite’ award is a significant confirmation of our efforts. We are ecstatic to be a member of the Visa Everywhere Initiative and look forward to collaborating with the Visa team to accomplish our mission.”
“At Visa, we believe that a cashless society equals speed, security, and convenience,” said Mohanish Agni, Visa’s General Manager for Pakistan and the Levant. As a result, we are overjoyed that Safepay from Pakistan won the CEMEA regional competition’s Audience Favorite award. Iman Urooj, Safepay’s Head of Business Development, did an outstanding job explaining the secure and compliant solutions Safepay can give small businesses in as little as two weeks. As a female finalist and winner, her accomplishment demonstrates how far women have come in the finance industry. We are thrilled to congratulate Safepay on their victory and hope that it will serve as a catalyst for accelerating the use of digital payments in Pakistan.”
The Visa Everywhere Initiative benefits fintech innovators in two ways: as a programme, it connects them to the network of startups that our product teams access when looking for solutions; and as a competition, it provides them with an opportunity to pitch to a panel of payments experts, win prizes, and gain wider exposure.
The competition is aimed at startups and fintechs that already have amazing products and are gaining traction – and are looking for an additional boost from a global, trusted brand like Visa to scale.
“The calibre of regional entrants demonstrates the region’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit,” said Andrew Torre, Visa’s Regional President for CEMEA. “A new generation of fintech innovators is advancing financial inclusion for currently underserved consumers and small and microbusinesses. With 680 million unbanked people and 60 million untapped merchants in the CEMEA region, this new generation of fintechs will be important in bringing the benefits of digital payments to consumers, merchants, and the entire society.”
PAYZE of Georgia won first place for CEMEA and $15,000 in prize money. PAYZE has advanced to the worldwide finals, which will take place on September 14 and will award a total of $100,000 in prizes, including $50,000 to the overall champion. PAYZE is a financial transaction pioneer focused on eCommerce, enabling businesses to accept payments from all over the world with a single integration. PAYZE will face regional winners from Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America in the global finals, which will be live-streamed on TechCrunch.
Five companies qualified for the CEMEA regional finals in total. Apart from PAYZE and Safepay, the other three finalists were: ArifPay of Ethiopia, an electronic payment platform that enables users to transfer, store, request, and accept money via the ArifPay mobile application; Corp.bank of Russia, a system for direct corporate treasury integration with banks via open banking APIs; and VPD Money of Nigeria, a financial service app.
This year’s competition will highlight products that provide consumers and businesses with innovative payment and commerce solutions. These market segments include: enablers of digital services and digital issuers; digital issuance; value-added financial services for merchants and/or customers; and small to medium-sized company recovery.