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30 Fastest Growing Companies in Asia 2017

Making financial services convenient, secure and profitable in emerging economies: NEAREX PTE LTD

thesiliconreview-mayank-sharma-ceo-nearex-pte-ltd-2017Over the last decade, mobile ownership across the world has far exceeded than any other device or platform. With the improvement in telecom connectivity and declining handset prices, mobile has become a crucial device that fundamentally changes the personal and professional lives of consumers by shaping how consumers search, purchase and pay for goods and services. As commerce is moving to mobile, so are payments. Therefore, there is a need for cashless payment systems that can provide speed, security and convenience which are important factors for any transaction. And keeping that in view, Nearex Pte Ltd focuses on simplifying proximity transactions such as Micropayments using mobile technology. It was founded by veterans from the mobile and financial industry with extensive exposure to emerging markets where mobile money services are driving large-scale financial inclusion for mostly unbanked societies.

We have the CEO, Mayank Sharma with us. Let’s hear it from him

Can you brief us about the history of your company?

Nearex is a fast growing Fintech company, providing a breakthrough cashless payment technology that’s revolutionizing mass payments across emerging markets. Founded in December 2012, by professionals from the mobile and fintech industry, Nearex created Xip to take on the challenge of making electronic payments as simple and easy to use as cash, and most importantly, affordable enough to use for the smallest merchant in any country. Nearex has its product development base in Bangalore, India and manufacturing in Shenzhen, China. Xip has grown rapidly, with market research and extensive pilots lasting over many years, from a mere concept to a payment system that’s touching lives in the many countries where it is deployed today. Nearex’s investors include Tata Capital, Beenos Asia, Beenext and Xinvesco.

How is your company positioned in the recent market scenario?

Cashless payments have been at the forefront of global Fintech attention. Leading payment players such as Mastercard, Visa, etc. have benefitted from card-less payment technologies such as Applepay, Samsungpay, QR code, etc. The developed world has also benefitted from Fintech innovations such as Square that has extended merchant acquisition through dramatic reduction in cost by use of smartphones. In China, both Alipay and Wechat have lead the Fintech payment market with Smartphone Apps. In India, after demonetization, Paytm, BHIM and several other mobile payment solutions have emerged as viable options. But a vast expanse of emerging world remains uncovered. Nearex’s Xip solution is meant for such countries, where the bank penetration is small yet mobile penetration is high. Its adoption by Safaricom (M-PESA) for Kenya market has confirmed its status as a leading and relevant technology for such vast number of emerging markets.

What are your service and product offerings? How do they benefit your clients?

Nearex has developed an end to end payment platform consisting of a range of low cost Point of Sale terminals for even the smallest of merchant, NFC card and apps for the consumers with or without a smartphone and a complete backend platform for the payment solution providers to manage merchants, consumers, transactions and wallet / bank integrations. Besides popular payment options such as NFC and QR Code, Nearex’s Xip technology also permits stored value offline payments that can work even when mobile networks are not present and where high speed of payment is a necessity such as rural environments or the public transport industry respectively.

What is the target area of your clientele?

Our initial target has been large mobile wallet players who are already successful at the national level with non-payment financial services such as remittances, loans, etc. Now we also have increasing interest from Banks who want to expand their payment services to semi-urban or completely rural regions. Public transport service providers are also deploying our solution. Some of our big clients includes Safaricom Kenya (used for M-PESA payments), Airtel Tanzania (used for Airtel Money payments), Econet Zimbabwe (used for Ecocash payments), etc. There are many smaller enterprise customers for campus-wide payments and also ongoing pilots with leading players across Asia and other African countries.

Tell us about your journey so far.

As this is an emerging market focused innovation from Asia, there are no established success references (such as Square) in the developed work. Lack of that buzz makes it difficult to find large budgets for a full project initially and often the funding comes through only for a Pilot project. Sometimes that is not adequate to showcase success for a project of such far-reaching impact. But we are fortunate to have finally overcome this obstacle now as the small deployments have proven to be very successful.

Now, Nearex is leading the technology platform for Micropayments. It will enable more and more payment service providers to roll out payment networks that will make it viable for them to cover even the smallest of the merchants. Merchant density is key for success of any payment network. Nearex delivers such high density through innovative use of cutting edge financial technology riding on the mobile wave. Cash is still the king across these emerging markets and the continuing success of Xip will result in massive business success for its customers as well as for Nearex.

Knowing the visionaries behind Nearex

Mayank Sharma, CEO, and Co-founder: Mayank believes the challenge of cashless micropayments can only be solved when a technology competes favorably with the convenience and affordability of cash. He cofounded Nearex to empower consumers & merchants around the world with simple cashless payments leveraging the reach of mobile phones. Mayank is an industry veteran with experience of leading multiple global teams. Prior to Nearex, he was the head of Africa business for Mahindra Comviva.

Arun Tanksali, CTO, and Co-founder: Arun’s passion is for making society adopt electronic cash and harnessing technology for the greater good of society. He remains an active developer, product manager, tester, and field engineer. He has worked in the telecom and IT industries for over 25 years. He was earlier the CTO of Mahindra Comviva and the Co-Founder and CTO of Jataayu Software.

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“We have built our payment solution from ground up with complete focus on viability for mass-market payments. While cost of infrastructure is one aspect for genuine return on investment, our design also addresses issues such as ruggedness, ease of use and optimization of cost of deployment as well as merchant acquisition.”