Startup aims to make online payment more accessible
Closed beta payment solution launched at Echelon Thailand
PAYMENT startup Omise has announced a seed-financing round of US$300,000 by venture firm East Ventures, which it said would help it accomplish its goal of offering a payment solution for everyone in Thailand even as it prepares for a beta launch in September.
“The Omise team knows how to build simple and elegant solutions. We are excited to start working together with them in bringing a reliable online payment system to Thailand,” East Ventures managing partner Batara Eto said in a statement.
According to Omise, online stores based in Thailand are lacking a proper payment solution that offers a simplified and smooth implementation process.
Major payment solution providers present in the market require copious amounts of documentation; minimum monthly commitments, high transaction fees and all take considerable amount of time to gain approval, the company claimed.
Stores in Thailand still rely heavily on offline payment methods such as ATMs, banks or online banking to drive their business. Once shoppers have made their transaction, they have to send proof of payment to the store via email or social network channels.
As there is no payment notification, the store has to check the transaction manually, which delays the delivery time and increases the chance of fraud. This fraud may occur by shoppers’ photo-shopping their proof of payment, Omise argued.
Additionally, the startup claimed that there is no good online application-programming interface (API) documentation or sandbox to test.
"Improving people’s daily lives has always has been a passion for me and I’m glad that I would be playing a part in making this happen in Thailand with Omise Payment Solution,” said Omise founder and chief executive officer Jun Hasegawa.
Omise will officially launch its closed beta payment solution at Echelon Thailand, scheduled to be held in Bangkok from Sept 18-19.
Plugging the payment problem
Omise, which translates to 'shop' in Japanese, is the latest venture for Hasegawa who previously founded LIFEmee in 2009, a web service that lets you record and share your life online.
The nine-man Omise team also comprises cofounder and chief operations officer Ezra Don Harinsut, chief information officer Federico Araujo, chief technology officer Robin Clart, chief creative officer Ekasit Awatchanakanwong, and developers Francois Gaspard, Pongsuriya Prapa and Kulachat Kena.
In an email interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), Harinsut said that Omise is intended to be ideal for both developers and non-developers.
“To apply for a payment service is not easy in Thailand. It requires a lot of documentation and other requirements.
"There are many merchants selling their products on Facebook, Instagram and Line but a proper payment solution doesn't exist for them,” he said.
Applying for Omise will require minimal online identification, no minimum monthly commitment and low transaction fees, allowing stores to accept payments instantly, he claimed.
Stores will be able to accept credit and debit card payments as well as bill payments which will allow shoppers to pay via their online banking accounts, ATM’s and banks.
Asked about the company’s business model, which is based on revenue generated from transaction fees, Harinsut said that the team’s approach and mission is simple: To offer the lowest rates in the market.
The company’s solution has not been released to market yet, but Harinsut shared that it is planning to launch two products.
The first will be a Payment API for developers similar to what is available by Stripe, which offers a set of unified APIs and tools to accept and manage online payments, and Braintree, an online payment plaftorm acquired by PayPal for US$800 million in 2013.
The second product will be a payment app that will allow merchants to accept payments via Facebook, Instagram, Line and email.
This puts the fledgling startup in competition with existing players such as PayPal, Singapore-headquartered 2C2P and another domestic online payment service provider, Paysbuy.
Harinsut said that the Omise API is based on a representational state transfer (REST) architecture and uses standard HTTP mechanisms to communicate with clients. All responses from the API, including errors, will be in sent in JSON, a data transfer format available in all major programming languages.
The Omise solution will also be Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) 3.0 compliant, to meet all requirements from Visa and MasterCard, since a core goal of the startup is to provide the highest level of online payment security to its users.
Harinsut admitted that achieving compliance will be one of the team’s immediate challenges as it is "a tough procedure.”
PCI-DSS 3.0, established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), became effective for implementation in January 2014. The standard places renewed emphasis on continued security monitoring and clarifies the rules that merchants will need to comply with it to be PCI-certified.
In addition to requirements such as proper malware detection, one of the new best practices that will be required in 2015 is a need for agreements between merchants and third-party service providers about the responsibilities of protecting cardholder data.
Buoyed by its successful round of seed funding, Omise remains upbeat about its chances of success despite the still long road ahead.
“Omise is like a family. We all work hard and prosper together as everyone is a part of the company. Our goal is to be the best PSP (payment solutions provider) in Thailand and South East Asia. Accepting online payment should be possible for everyone!” said Harinsut.
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