The Silicon Review
Founded in 2008, Payment Express Ltd (PEX) is a Mauritius-based payment industry player servicing customers worldwide. The high growth markets present a unique set of payment challenges and PEX takes a scientific approach to solving them. Certified by both Visa, MasterCard and UPI, as a full service payment processing company, the company offers high-level expertise in all areas of 'cards', provides banks, the retail industry and financial institutions with complete EMV certified solutions as they migrate to EMV Smart Card technology, as well as a wide variety of Digital Payment Solutions and dedicated Merchant and Customer Support.
The Story Behind
An MBA from the Heriot-Watt University, Sailesh Sewpaul was a highly experienced IT professional cum e-Banking and Retail Banking Business Strategist. He was working at State Bank of Mauritius and was in the IT division for about 10 years.
Later, Sailesh moved to the business side becoming the Head of Retail Banking, Head of E-Business and Head of Private Banking. He was also on the advisory board of VISA for central Europe, Middle East, and Africa and this is where he learned and understood the nuts and bolts of the payment business globally.
In terms of e-banking, there was practically nothing in most of the African countries; they were lagging behind. Even though they were coming up and getting a license from the Payment Association, they didn’t have the expertise or know-how to launch the core program. Sailesh saw the opportunity and came up with the idea that he proposed to the bank to start the business.
There was a French bank that came to Mauritius and Sailesh met the executives. He took over the whole processing for the bank and provided them with the cards. After that project, Barclays Bank Mauritius approached Sailesh as they understood the model and wanted to take over the processing. The State Bank of Mauritius did not want to do the project with the Barclays Bank but Sailesh didn’t agree with the board decision and resigned and this is how it all started.
It took Sailesh 3 years to build the PEX team and raise funds. But, with time, the company witnessed immense growth and started operating as a certified processor for Visa, MasterCard & UPI. Today, PEX is one of the leading players in the payment industry. It operates in 17 countries with 40 banks working with it.
Interview Snippet with CEO of PEX, Sailesh Sewpaul:
Q. How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.
Our first project was for a retail bank in Mauritius called the Bank One and we issued six different VISA cards such as Classic VISA Gold, VISA Infinite using the EMV chip card technology within six months. It was a very good start for the company because in this industry issuing six cards in six months with a new technology is quite quick.
PEX was able to do this not because of me, but because of my people. Being ex-bankers, we understand banking; we have the knowledge and expertise and that was a great advantage for us during the project.
Q. What are the challenges you faced during the initial years of PEX?
As a startup you always have challenges and for me, it was a vision. When I resigned and left the bank I was quite young but I took the risk.
Raising funds was one of the biggest challenges. It wasn’t an easy task for me but I managed to do it. Being a startup, forming the team was also a challenge, but I got my people from my previous bank; they left their job after 15 years in the bank. They believed in my vision and it was a bold move by them. Another big challenge for me and the company was to find the first customer. But, we were patient because I had credibility and people in the industry knew me. We got our first project for Bank One and it was a grand success.
Q. What is your take on earning the trust and respect of your clients?
We at PEX always look forward to improve our offerings, so we take feedback from our clients. Once a project is live, we meet our clients, talk to them, and try to figure out what are the issues. This is an ongoing process. In this business, especially in terms of innovation things happen practically every day. So, we have to be able to stay ahead of the game.
To build and maintain our reputation in the industry, we also focus on our existing clients in terms of service. We keep our clients happy with what we do. Every industry have problems but you need to make sure that you're attending the customers' problems and issues in a timely manner and have proper follow up; you need to communicate with the client and be in touch with them.
Q. What is the Company’s vision for the future? How does the roadmap look like?
Looking into the future, we have formed a partnership with a cryptocurrency company that has developed a new cryptocurrency which is connected to our switch. To enable money remittance, we are currently working on it and we want to test this in Zimbabwe and South Africa. This project will be live in the fourth quarter of this year.
Furthermore, we are enabling digital banking, so people can do banking such as checking account and checking statements without printing papers or statements. That is not all; the other thing we have in our roadmap is we are working on social media banking. We are also working on financial inclusion in Africa to bring people on board. It might take some time to accomplish our missions, but we at PEX believe that we will definitely do it. It is our Bank in a Box Concept.
“For OMCARD, we wanted a secure, easy-to-use, innovative product. We knew we needed to partner with a leader. That’s why we chose PEX.”
- Ben Jacobs, Chief Operations Executive, Old Mutual Namibia
“PEX was there to help us roll-out a milestone in African mPOS technology quickly.”
- Veeren Manikion, Head of E-Business, SBM