Every Thursday, ILQ features a different Qatari startup in our ‘Startup of the Week’ segment. Qatar has some of the most creative, unique, and impactful startups in the region, and we cover them all across a variety of industries in Doha—from fashion and beauty to food and dining, health, education, technology, and more!
This week, we're saying goodbye to cash with SkipCash, a Mobile Digital wallet (Mobile App) the Qatar shoppers can use. As the name indicates, you don’t need to carry a lot of cash for shopping anymore, no-more wasting time in searching for ATMs and waiting a long queue, no-more fighting for cash-change with the cab driver, all you need is a smartphone and SkipCash App.
Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Delaimi, co-founder and Managing Director of SkipCash, shared about their name selection process saying, "Our objective was to select a name that can relate to the product, must be simple, easy to remember and trendy, which was not an easy task. Our team conducted many activities including deep brainstorming sessions, best-in-class audits with similar startups and names globally, google research, naming tools and software, etc. Finally, we shortlisted 3 names for voting and SkipCash was the winner with the majority of the votes from the team members.
Within five years, half of today’s smartphone users in the world will be using their phones and mobile wallets as their preferred method for payments. Near Field Communication (NFC) and QR Code technology had opened the floodgates for profound changes in the way we use our mobile devices. mobile technology including apps, QR codes, image recognition, NFC, etc will soon dominate the way consumers secure coupons and deliver payments, OUR PHONES WILL BECOME OUR WALLETS.
The terms and methods of payments have evolved greatly throughout the past years. Payments were once made with literal gold coins, then on paper cash, Plastic Cards and now consumers are demanding seamless and convenient payment experiences using mobile phones and similar digital devices.
SkipCash aims to harness the current fast-paced tech revolution and rapidly evolving trends, to ultimately offer our customers a unique range of innovative payment services and loyalty programs.
Qatar is gearing up for a transformation to a digital and cashless economy, and the reasons for the transformation is to reduce the high dependency on paper cash. In 2018, cash withdrawals from ATMs reached 54.6 billion QAR. Neighboring countries already established themselves as Digital-FinTech hub, Qatar yet to catch-up to that trend.
Customer demands and shopping paradigms are also changing, which is shifting from a traditional shopping experience to a Smart Consumer Experience. New-age shoppers demand convenience, reliable shopping information, instant rewards, personalized experience and an easy way to pay with no hassles.
Qatar is also home to many traditional souqs and markets with thousands of medium, small and micro shops catering to local customers and international visitors. But these merchants are struggling to catch up with the latest technology trends and changing payments landscape. They don’t accept credit cards or mobile payments from customers due to the high cost of acquiring and maintaining such POS solutions.
This caused a lot of inconvenience for shoppers visiting these Souqs because they must carry cash for any purchase. It's a hassle to search ATMs and stand long queues for withdrawing money. It’s also hard to manage personal spending and track the expenses when using paper cash. Carrying cash in the wallet is also not safe these days.
All these factors added up the demand for an alternative yet affordable payment and POS solution, this is where SkipCash steps in to provide value for both Shoppers and Merchants.
The entire journey started when QCB (Qatar Central Bank) announced its plan to make Qatar a leading FinTech (Financial Technology) hub in 2018. This was the spark that led SkipCash founders to combine their 25+ years of expertise in ICT and Fintech to create a product that caters to the new demands of the FinTech industry and fill the gap created by the exiting financial service incumbents.
"We started the market research and feasibility study in early 2018, but only in Jan 2019, our fintech startup concept was approved by Qatar Financial Center and granted the trade license to operate in Qatar."
"Since then our journey was interesting, we released the prototype of the SkipCash Merchant App (Mobile POS) and Consumer App (Mobile Wallet) to Qatar market in May 2019. We received mixed reactions from both the merchants and consumers, but the overall reaction was very positive. We succeeded in signing LOI with 45+ merchants to use our mPOS and received interest in the early version of the mWallet from 500+ consumers through our Landing Page."
"This was the first approval for our concept from the market that boosted our confidence and strength to develop a fully functional MVP (Minimum Variable Product) for mPOS and mWallet, which will be released to the market by April 2020."
The overall SkipCash experience is unique and interesting.
Many features make SkipCash unique, but the important ones are the look and feel of the App, easy to use and well-crafted user experience (UX), beautifully designed user interfaces (UI), a smart Personal Finance Manager (PFM) feature to manage and track all your spending, instant offers, and discount coupons to save on each purchase, location-based deals, rewards, and many more.
For the merchants, the app's unique offering is a cost-effective mobile POS (no special hardware is required) to accept any card payments. Simply owning a smartphone is enough to start collecting card payments. The mPOS gives the business the ability to collect payments at more locations while automatically collecting valuable sales data in the process. In the data-driven world that we live in, being able to easily analyze your business performance is essential to keep up with consumer expectations. Ultimately, having SkipCash mPOS systems collecting and organizing your sales transaction information allows you to optimize your business operations and accelerate the growth of your company.
One of the key differentiators is that SkipCash created an innovative digital platform where all the entities in the retail chain ecosystem (Shoppers, merchants, banks, digital marketing/loyalty service provides, etc.) can engage and collaborate to create a virtuous cycle and accelerate the economy to a cashless economy.
Asked about the customer feedback so far, Mohammed replied: "We had a mixed reaction from the customers, but the overall response was very positive. Small merchants loved the concepts and many (45+) signed the LOI to use it once it is released to the market. We also had interest from big brands and groups in Qatar which are still under negotiations for an LOI.
During the QITCOM 2019, we had a dedicated booth for the customers to have the first hand-on experience with SkipCash mWallet and mPOS. It was a “wow” moment for many customers, we received enormous feedbacks and more than 500+ customers enrolled to grab the first version of SkipCash apps."
When asked if they sought any help from a startup incubation company in the development of SkipCash, Mohammed shared, "We are a startup incubated under DIC (Digital Incubation Center - MOTC). We are very lucky to have the support from DIC from very early stages with mentorship support, office space support, guidance on market research, product development, connecting us with local resources, etc.
We also won 3rd place and a cash award from the idea camp competition 2019 conducted by DIC (MOTC)."
With regards to SkipCash being beneficial to Qatar's economic growth, this is what they have to say:
"Our key objective is to align with Qatar's e-government vision and digital enablement initiatives to drive Qatar's economy to a digital-cashless economy. Our startup will contribute to economic growth by providing cutting-edge technologies to serve the unbanked and under-served market, thus contributing to financial inclusion.
This will fuel Qatar's overall economic growth. SMEs are the backbone of the economy, empowering them with affordable digital tools for better performance and revenue growth, will ultimately help the overall economic growth.
All around the world, technology is enhancing people’s everyday lives. It is impossible to envision Qatar’s digital future without embracing technology to create a more efficient, effective, accessible and transparent platform that meets the needs of individuals and businesses."
And this is their advice for young entrepreneurs who are interested in establishing startups of their own:
"Our advice to the budding entrepreneurs is that “Patience is beautiful”. Things might not seem promising in the beginning, but if you believe in your idea, and if you are certain that the market needs it, and if you can give 100% to make your dream a reality, then be patient, you will definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel."
SkipCash team is developing two Apps, a mobile wallet & a mobile POS for shoppers and merchants in Qatar. SkipCash is founded by Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Delaimi (Managing Director) and Safarudheen Farook (CEO).
Mobile Wallet (mWallet) is a mobile App, the equivalent of your physical wallet where you can keep your money in digital form to use it when you need without swiping your debit/credit cards. From grocery items to flight tickets, everything can be purchased by using mWallets. No minimum deposit amount is needed and is one of the fastest mediums for a transaction.
The mWallets can be downloaded from your smartphone’s app store. To use these mobile wallets, you need to have a smartphone with an active internet connection. Fill up the basic details such as your name and mobile number for signing up for the mWallet. Once you log into the mWallet account, you can link your debit/credit cards by entering the details to the app and store the card in digital format which can be used for any shopping without the need to carry all your cards.
A mobile POS system is a smartphone equipped with technology that lets it act as a standard POS system. For example, a mobile POS system can play the role of a cash register and/or a card reader in a transaction. The device is usually a wireless and portable device such as a smartphone or a tablet.
These streamlined systems refer to both the hardware that accepts payments (Smartphone), as well as the software (SkipCash App) with QR code technology that processes those payments for all types of credit and debit cards. Other than simply processing payments, however, the software embedded in these POS systems allows users to manage other aspects of their businesses, including collecting sales data and creating reports, capturing customer behavior data, and more.
So, Skip Cash, Cards, Queues, and all the hassles...Use SkipCash!
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