The Silicon Review
In the world of FinTech, the adage ‘only as strong as the weakest link’ is hard to contest. The need for solid security, ease of access and a feature rich design cannot be overstated, as weaknesses in any one of these sectors can prove fatal. However, perfecting this formula is notoriously difficult and successful solutions have long been elusive.
But Clik, a dynamic payments start-up, has the solution.
In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Clik has assembled a vibrant team of local and international experts dedicated to delivering an app that will consolidate all aspects of payment solutions into one accessible platform. Working in conjunction with existing financial institutions Clik is set to disrupt the region’s payment solutions landscape utilising cutting edge technology and clever innovations to do so.
In conversation with Matthew Tippetts, CEO and Co-founder
Why was the company started?
We recognised that 70 percent of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 30, with low levels of income in a market that is substantially underbanked, it is ripe for an e-payment service solution. From a team of three in 2016 to the over thirty strong today, Clik has rapidly expanded on the journey to create the most advanced payment platform in South East Asia.
Clik was started to solve 2 core problems. The first is fragmentation in the payment sector. The current landscape is awash with payment terminals, card readers and wallet apps that make completing a transaction much more complicated than it should be. At Clik we believe the best solution to this problem is simplicity. Because Clik is capable of accepting any card (like Mastercard or Visa) or wallet (such as Ali Pay or Apple Pay), merchants can replace the multitude of bulky terminals with our app and one small card reading device. They can even go a step further and remove all terminals with our SoftPOS solution, as the merchant’s smartphone can accept contactless payments through phone-to-phone or card-to-phone transactions. The Clik platform is custom-built to combine banking-grade security with an unrivalled level of convenience.
The second problem we solve is that traditional retail (brick and mortar), representing 96% of retail in ASEAN, operates mostly without customer data and data is a key success factor of online businesses! Our goal is to ensure that both customers and merchants benefit from the wealth of data that we collect. Strong incentives including data driven analysis of customer spending patterns and loyalty cashback options are just two examples of Clik’s multifaceted approach. We are helping brick and mortar stores, not just online ones, and their customers to reap the rewards of digitisation that for so long have belonged solely to online businesses.
What has been Clik’s biggest success so far?
It’s tough to pick one but the interest and adoption process has been particularly successful. Several of Cambodia’s leading microfinance institutions and banks have signed partnership and beta testing agreements, expressing interest in linking their services with Clik and using our proprietary electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) process. Over 1,300 retail outlets have signed or are on course to signing beta agreements. As a result, this pre-launch network will provide over 31 million consumer touchpoints per year for Clik at launch.
With their own solutions in the market, how do other payment providers benefit from partnering with Clik?
Collaboration is vital to success. Through cooperation, we can improve the payment space in South East Asia and everyone (financial institutions, payment companies, merchants and consumers) benefits. Our growing list of partners reflects the significant value we can bring to payment providers, which includes gaining access to the country’s largest merchant network, enhanced security, and an improved client offering via consumer benefits like cashback and loyalty.
Any company, big or small, must have the sense of authenticity and originality to succeed, is Clik a ‘leader’ or a ‘follower’?
We are a young and energetic start-up at the leading edge of payments solutions, so definitely a leader! Clik is continuously innovating to provide a service that surpasses the existing offerings, furthering the revolution in the payment solutions sector. By bringing new ideas and technologies to the table, Clik can develop initiatives that other, less agile companies would struggle to apply.
Putting consumers in charge of their personal data is perhaps our biggest advance ahead of the current model of data monetisation. Unlike other data-driven technology firms we don’t sell personal data at all, nor do we share it, unless we have the customers instruction to do so. The consumer retains control of their private data and chooses to opt-in in order to receive the benefits from safely sharing their private data.
Benefits come in the form of cashback with Clik merchants and relevant personalised offers, in effect allowing consumers to ‘self-monetise’ their data. And all this while maintaining privacy, as data insights are fully anonymised and GDPR compliant. Of course, anyone that wants to stay out of this can, we are dedicated to respecting customer’s privacy.
The way we are using this data to add value to merchants is also really exciting – Clik merchants will get in depth analysis on behaviour patterns, which will allow them to better understand their customers, improve their service and customer engagement, make data driven decisions and grow their business.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
As with most start-ups, one of Clik’s biggest challenges was funding. Cambodia is not a place that investors would naturally think of as being fertile ground for world-class FinTech start-ups, and for many it’s not even on the radar. We had to face investor incredulity, as we are solving global problems in a pretty unique way.
Then there is the amount of funding needed. Building a banking-grade, highly secure, scalable, reliable and disruptive platform technology requires serious funding. Seed financing is still being raised but Clik has already received a Letter of Interest from a strategic investor to take up to all of our next funding round (Series A). This has taken an extensive amount of time, extreme bootstrapping, forging strong partnerships and lots of perseverance. None of this would have been possible without a team of highly talented, passionate and committed members.
Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?
Very true! We tried applying some of the methods from Ray Dalio in his fantastic book “Principles”. From the start it was somewhat controversial to apply Radical Truth and Radical Transparency, especially in a culture where saying no or feeling that you could be losing face is badly accepted. But hurt feelings were mostly overcome, making way for better solutions, more transparency and efficient communication.
Clik’s success has also been driven by customer feedback. Listening, understanding and responding to what the market needs has allowed the platform to evolve in ways we had never imagined.
As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
Our platform ecosystem was designed with international expansion as its core objective. Clik is entirely cloud based and therefore highly scalable. Our objective is to have our first phase of international expansion across the Mekong region (Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand) underway by the end of this year and by next year further growth across ASEAN, with the possibility of expansion to another continent in the future. We are already in discussions with financial institutions in Myanmar to use our eKYC.
Meet the highly ambitious Matthew Tippetts, CEO and Co-founder
Matthew Tippetts, the CEO and Co-founder of Clik, has over 20 years of experience in the telecoms, media and technology sectors, first as an investment banker in London working for Robertson Stephens, then as a hedge fund analyst working for Citadel, and now as an entrepreneur. He has experience in mobile payments, retail and real estate across emerging markets such as Myanmar and Cambodia.
“It’s time for Cambodia to show the world that it’s a contender in the FinTech space; ready to do more and push beyond what’s expected.”