When Billplz was incorporated in 2012, there was an increasing number of online purchases and payments being made.
This stimulated the demand for payment platforms and resulted in double digit growth YoY, CEO Nazroof Hakim told Vulcan Post. “However, most were unsatisfactory in terms of cost as well as payment speed,” he added.
Billplz’s mission was to allow organisations to both pay and get paid the fastest, at the lowest cost possible.
Its Position In The Online Payment Ecosystem
Going into this, I found myself still rather confused as to what Billplz was. It’s a payment platform, which is actually distinctly different from a payment gateway. Nazroof broke down the online payment ecosystem to 4 layers, with Billplz being on the outermost layer (Layer 4).
At its core (Layer 1) you would have local payment networks like PayNet and JomPay, and local payment systems like Boost and Touch ‘n Go eWallet.
Layer 2 consists of global payment networks like Visa and American Express, while Layer 3 has payment gateways like ipay88 and senangPay.
“We allow our merchants to choose which provider/processor at any layers they want to integrate with,” Nazroof simplified.
“For example, we can integrate one merchant directly to an acquiring bank for the merchant to enjoy real-time payout for FPX. Concurrently, we can integrate the same merchant with one of our gateway partners to accept card payments.”
This allows merchants flexibility in choosing payment providers, without the effort of dealing directly with each one when they need a change.
Bringing New Value To The Industry
Because Billplz is a payment platform, payment gateways like the aforementioned ipay88 and senangPay aren’t seen as competitors, but more as players who paved the way for the industry.
In fact, Billplz now helps them distribute their products. Furthermore, while these players focus on collecting payments alone, the Billplz team ensures that their solution can replace repetitive manual tasks, not only at the transactional level but also at reconciliation and back office functions.
Dictionary Time: Reconciliation is the process of comparing transactions and activity to supporting documentation. Further, reconciliation involves resolving any discrepancies that may have been discovered. Meanwhile, back-office functions include settlements, clearances, record maintenance, regulatory compliance, accounting, and IT services, carried out by administration and support personnel.Financial Reporting / Investopedia
With that, Nazroof said that they’ve actually yet to see an online payment platform with the same purpose as theirs, using the same integration model.
The startup is able to serve organisations at all sizes, he added, and some of the bigger ones they’ve worked with include Bendahari Negeri Kedah for iBayaQ, a Kedah state owned online payment portal, and e-wallet Boost, to enable real-time FPX payouts.
Proudly, he shared that one of their top features applicable to all members is their Collection folder, which merchants can use to differentiate multiple revenue streams or payment channels.
“For example, one merchant could have multiple websites or campaigns. Rather than register for a new bank account or open a new Billplz account, they can easily create a dedicated folder to differentiate the multiple streams of funds that go into the same organisation’s bank account.”
There’s No Turning Back
For a few early years since incorporation, Billplz was still in its experimental stage. It was a boost via investments from MAVCAP and 500 Startups that kickstarted their growth in 2015, Nazroof recalled, along with MaGIC’s help.
In 2014, MaGIC sent Billplz’s founders, Nazroof and Arzumy to Silicon Valley for 2 weeks as part of the e@Stanford programme.
This prepared the founders in facilitating decision-making, seeing issues and problems from different viewpoints as well as stimulating innovation. Today, the opportunities the startup has had as an e@Stanford alumnus have enabled them to work with other alumni like Exabytes, SoftSpace, GoGet.my, and more.
Nazroof shared that Billplz will be introducing new products and services soon with one concept in mind: automation. He wants to further simplify how consumers and merchants interact across multiple verticals.
“We have just introduced our Payment Order API which allows merchants to transfer money from their Billplz bank account to other bank accounts in real-time, and we are currently exploring integration with Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL).”
Now, they’re looking into venture debt for local acquisition, and have plans to expand to Singapore and Indonesia too.
2020 was a productive year for Billplz, with one of their achievements being the collection of RM3 billion in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV), triple their RM1 billion GMV of 2019. This was a direct result of consumers altering their purchasing behaviours during the pandemic.
As for whether these changes in the online payment landscape are here to stay, Nazroof said, “Yes, definitely. Just like another critical tech milestone. There is no turning back. Similar to online payment, once business owners experience the efficiency, they will not revert back.”
Featured Image Credit: Nazroof Hakim, CEO of Billplz