14 June 2021, Karachi, Pakistan – On June 9, Pakistani firm Safepay was named one of the winners of the Visa Everywhere Initiative — a worldwide innovation initiative and competition for startups and fintech companies – hosted for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA).
Safepay from Pakistan received the Audience Favorite award for CEMEA and $10,000 in prize money after receiving the most votes from the audience. Safepay, a Karachi-based fintech, was formed by Ziyad Parekh and Raza Naqvi in 2019 with the goal of accelerating the adoption of digital payments in Pakistan by attracting a wave of businesses that wish to accept online payments from their clients. Safepay is a company that specialises in online payments.
Safepay was introduced as a test product in 2019, and the two co-founders were able to quickly develop their business to provide online payment services to merchants around the country. The services were shut down in 2020 as the company expanded, which necessitated partnership with other financial institutions and the country’s central bank.
“Everyday at Safepay, we are inspired by the fantastic tales we hear from entrepreneurs across Pakistan, we’re just getting started and are so thrilled for what’s to come,” Iman Urooj, Head of Business Development at Safepay, said of the award. Winning the ‘Audience Favorite’ award is a huge endorsement of what we’re aiming towards. We are honoured to be a member of the Visa Everywhere Initiative, and we look forward to working closely with the Visa organisation to accomplish our goals.”
“At Visa, we believe that a cashless society means speed, security, and convenience,” said Mohanish Agni, Visa’s General Manager for Pakistan and the Levant. As a result, we are ecstatic that Safepay from Pakistan has won the CEMEA regional competition’s Audience Favorite award. Safepay’s Head of Business Development, Iman Urooj, did an excellent job of explaining the secure and compliant solutions that Safepay can provide small businesses in just two weeks. Her performance as a female finalist and winner demonstrates that women are making significant progress in the fintech industry. We are thrilled to congratulate Safepay on their triumph, and we hope that this success will help them to accelerate their goal.
The Visa Everywhere Initiative benefits fintech innovators in two ways: as a programme, it connects them to a network of startups that our product teams from around the world use to find solutions; and as a competition, it provides them with a platform to pitch their ideas to a panel of payments experts, win prizes, and gain more exposure.
The competition is aimed for startups and fintechs who already have amazing products that are gaining traction and are looking for a boost from a worldwide, trusted brand like Visa to help them scale.
“The calibre of the regional entrants demonstrates the region’s entrepreneurial and innovation strength,” said Andrew Torre, Visa’s Regional President for CEMEA. “A new breed of fintechs is developing technologies that will assist expand financial inclusion for consumers and small and microbusinesses that are currently underserved. With 680 million unbanked people in CEMEA and 60 million untapped merchants, this new generation of fintechs will be important in bringing the benefits of digital payments to consumers, businesses, and society as a whole.”
PAYZE of Georgia won first place for CEMEA and $15,000 in prize money. PAYZE will now compete in the worldwide finals on September 14th, with a total prize pool of $100,000 up for grabs, including $50,000 for the overall champion. PAYZE is an eCommerce-focused financial transaction innovator that enables businesses to accept payments from all around the world with a single connection. PAYZE will compete against regional winners from Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America in the global finals, which will be live-streamed on TechCrunch.
Five companies made it to the CEMEA regional finals in total. The other three finalists, in addition to PAYZE and Safepay, were:
- Ethiopia’s ArifPay is an electronic payment platform that allows users to send, receive, request, and accept money using the ArifPay mobile application.
- Corp.bank of Russia is an open banking API-based system for direct corporate treasury integration with banks.
- Nigeria’s VPD Money is a financial services app.
This year’s competition focuses on products that provide consumers and businesses with new payment and commerce solutions. Enablers of digital services and digital issuers; Digital issuance; Value-add for merchants and/or consumers in terms of financing; and Small to medium-sized business recovery are among the market segments covered.