Did you think that payment cards were only used by consumers to pay at stores and online? We thought so too. It was not until we came across a startup that is debunking this myth and changing the way we see those boring pieces of plastic in our wallets. We dug deeper and found ourselves asking a lot more questions and we found the perfect person to provide us with the answers we seek!
Ali Sattar, the Founder and CEO of SimpliFi, is on a mission to demystify the nature of cashless payments and make them seamless, transparent and delightful than they are today. When he wasn’t traveling and exploring the world’s different cultures and cuisines, Ali was solving the various pain points within Careem’s ecosystem as the Managing Director of CareemPay, the digital payments arm of Careem.
It is during that time that the idea of SimpliFi was concocted in Ali’s mind as he was brainstorming a simpler way to pay their Captains (what they call their drivers) in real time whilst ensuring that the model was scalable and profitable. The only method that met all of these requirements was prepaid cards.
There’s no confusion in what prepaid cards are, right? In short, they’re Visa or Mastercard cards which we’re all familiar with, except that the money in the card is pre-funded (or prepaid, wink wink) by an individual or a business. “At Careem, issuing a prepaid card would not only have solved our payout problem but would have also enabled us to build a closer relationship with our Captains, generate a new revenue stream, build brand equity and gather valuable data on their spending habits.” So what was the issue?
The idea was great on paper, but difficult to execute given the complexity around enabling payments. The fragmentation of the region with each market having its own payment ecosystem and regulations certainly didn’t make it any easier.
“When I left Careem, I realized that this is a problem that many companies were facing and someone had to solve it. Companies should not have to become payment experts, get into complex integrations or run compliance teams.” Ali stated, “That idea has now evolved into SimpliFi, a movement to democratize card issuance.” he added.
This is where SimpliFi comes into the picture. They provide the tools (APIs or portals depending on their needs) to clients to issue cards and manage their program whilst SimpliFi takes care of the rest. Ali emphasized that once a client is onboarded, which would only take a few weeks, they can start issuing cards instantly and their customers, partners and employees can start using them right away!
Given all the complexities around issuing and managing cards, it’s no surprise that banks have been the only ones doing so. If you open up your wallet today, you will see that every single card is issued by a bank and has their logo on it. SimpliFi is changing that by allowing every business to get in on the action!
Banks are a key partner as they ensure full compliance and seamless flow of funds, whilst customers are able to craft their own card products to suit their needs (instead of the standard card products offered by banks) by using SimpliFi’s modern and modular platform.
“We are solving problems for businesses, and at the same time allowing them to generate new revenue streams and giving them access to valuable behavior data whilst building loyalty with their users.” The multiple benefits means that the investment a company makes in setting up the program starts to pay back with the first transaction on the first card! In essence, companies can turn mundane, recurring tasks like salary payments into profitable activities whilst delighting their users by driving the payments experience.
But the use cases for companies are not only limited to salary payments. Prepaid cards are highly versatile and SimpliFi’s flexible card issuance platform can be used to build solutions for all kinds of businesses. Whether it’s a Buy Now Pay Later app that wants to issue virtual cards to extend its reach or a food delivery platform that wants to settle with restaurants. Or a loyalty app that needs a solution to redeem points or a corporate that is looking to simplify expense management for its staff. The use cases are virtually endless.
What else? Well, as SimpliFi looks to launch its services across the region, they have chosen our beautifully thriving Kingdom as their first market! We’re not surprised, but we still had to ask Ali as to why he chose the Kingdom as his launchpad? “Bahrain has one of the most regulatory-friendly environments, advanced payments infrastructure and a thriving tech ecosystem which makes it a very interesting market to try out new models. For us it’s an ideal place to launch in, test out our proposition and then expand across the region.” We’re rooting for you!
We couldn’t let Ali go without asking him for tips on behalf of new startups, so we’re letting you in on some pearls of wisdom he’s shared with us. “I see a lot of entrepreneurs getting distracted with too many ideas so they don’t end up focusing on anything.”
He said, “It’s important to execute your plans fast and show traction so do just about enough to show that the proposition has legs and can solve a real need and then iterate over time.” He added. “Also, build a culture of ownership and trust, and show that you have the patience to see through things and ensure your investors are with you for the long haul.” Straightforward and honest, thank you Ali!
And that is SimpliFi for you! They’re quite a force to be reckoned with, no? So if you’re a business that wants to take charge of your payments experience, get in touch with them on their website! Let us know what you think on our website, or via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. We would love to hear from you!