The FINANCIAL — MobiPay, the mobile financial service provider in Georgia, plans to expand its customer base in Georgia and have up to 250,000 subscribers by the end of the year.
Moreover, by the end of the year the company intends to broaden its network of operations and is therefore focusing on 18 countries in Europe and Asia.
MobiPay launched its operations in Georgia at the beginning of the year. Since then the company has secured 100,000 clients, 1,500 merchants and 150 cash agent locations in Georgia.
“The reason we have 100,000 customers in Georgia is due to us having a really good product which meets customers’ needs. Georgian consumers are tired of having to stand in line to pay bills when making payments in merchant locations. Consumers are also tired of having to pay very high fees to transfer money from one place to another. MobiPay has proved a very valuable alternative means of payment for them. This is the right product at the right time,” said Allen Gilstrap, CEO and Company Director of MobiPay.
The main idea of MobiPay is that any payment can be conducted by mobile phone. The only thing required by the individual is to become registered in the system and get an identification number. The service is available for Geocell clients only.
The process of joining MobiPay is quite simple. One can sign up for MobiPay in more than 150 locations in Tbilisi, Batumi, Guria, Samegrelo and Kakheti.
“To use the MobiPay service customers should put cash into their MobiPay account which can be done with any cash agent or by transferring money directly from a bank account. Then there is a simple menu on their mobile phone that allows customers to do 60 different things including flexible and convenient payment options, utility payments, merchant payments and person-to-person money transfers,” explained Mr. Gilstrap.
Mobi Club is the new programme of MobiPay which enables customers to move money automatically from bank to mobile wallet. The service is currently available for customers however it will be fully launched from September. All Georgian banks will be switched to the system.
The successful operations of MobiPay led to expansion of business operations in other regions of Georgia. Recently IFC, a member of the World Bank, helped the company to bring service to rural areas of Georgia including Guria, Kakheti and Samegrelo. The corporation provided a 400,000 USD grant to support further operations.
“MobiPay is glad to have IFC as a partner. The funding is enabling the company to move more quickly into Guria, Kakheti and Samegrelo. We are able to accelerate growth into those rural areas quicker than we would have been able to otherwise. So it is bringing wonderful financial products to people who would not be able to receive MobiPay sooner if not for IFC’s support,” said Mr. Gilstrap.
Q. MobiPay is launching its activities in different regions of Georgia. What potential do you see in the Guria, Kakheti and Samegrelo regions and how does your initiative support the agriculture sector?
A. MobiPay supports agriculture by providing a very inexpensive and convenient way for agricultural participants to make payments.
MobiPay is particularly important for people in those regions as there are limited financial service opportunities for them. For instance for a farmer in Guria to go and pay his bills he has to miss half a day’s work to get a bus, go in to town and stand in line in his bank to make the payment, while with MobiPay he can pay in just a few seconds which saves hours of his time and money.
Q. What had been the total investment of MobiPay in Georgia since the start of the company’s operations?
A. We have invested over 10 million USD in Georgia. There will be substantially more investment as we enter other countries. It is understood that Georgia is our home and when we enter the 18 new countries, the operations for those businesses will be based here in Georgia.
The funds actually went to start up a new business in Georgia and certainly part was invested in new technology. The biggest investment, however, was in people; we have over 170 employees in Georgia. So, we have invested in people, technology and advertising.
“Georgia is our home and when we enter the 18 new countries, the operations for those businesses will be based here in Georgia.”
Q. How would you evaluate the investment climate of Georgia?
A. We looked at 54 countries while setting up operations. We selected Georgia as we felt it was one of the most progressive countries in terms of business investment compared to other markets we were looking at. There is a very pro-business attitude within the National Bank of Georgia and the Government.
Principally, we came into Georgia for the people; there is a very educated group of people that we wanted to be our employees. Certainly the Government and NBG have created a very pro-business environment which encouraged American investment to come here.
Q. How would you evaluate the ICT market in Georgia?
A. I have often said that mobile network services in Georgia are of higher quality than you find in America. In the broader ICT sector there are very talented individuals and some very talented young companies. We look forward to making further investment in mobile application development in Georgia. The ICT sector is very developed here and it is a good place for technology.
“Mobile network services in Georgia are of higher quality than you can find in America. We look forward to making further investment in mobile application development in Georgia.”
Q. Why should a company be interested in being a partner of MobiPay?
A. There are three reasons for companies to want to join MobiPay. Firstly, the service is a very convenient option for company customers. Great merchants like Wissol and Goodwill like to provide the most convenient payment options for their customers and MobiPay is the most convenient payment form for them.
Secondly, we work closely with the merchants to help them develop promotional campaigns, increase their customer base and achieve their marketing objectives. We are very conscious that MobiPay must bring value to the merchants as well. Finally, I think there is the convenience itself. Merchants are not only accepting the payment but they also make the payment.
Q. Please list the companies which are most involved in MobiPay activities and in which merchant locations are most of the transactions made.
A. MobiPay has 1,500 merchant locations today which makes the company the second largest merchant after Bank of Georgia. By the end of the year we will actually be the largest one throughout Georgia. The highest traffic has been observed in Goodwill, PSP and GPC pharmacies. These are the big merchants where the majority of transactions take place.
Q. In Georgia Geocell is the only GSM operator which provides your service to its clients. How does Geocell benefit from being your partner? Do you intend to deliver your service to Magti and Beeline subscribers as well?
A. MobiPay and Geocell have a mutually-beneficial form of cooperation with each other. Geocell benefits from the cooperation as they are helping bring innovative payment and money transfer capabilities to their customers.
MobiPay does not intend to switch other mobile operators to the scheme. Geocell is our partner and we think they are the best mobile operator in Georgia. Geocell is available in every part of Georgia. Now with portability it’s much easier for Beeline and Magti customers to say I want MobiPay but at the same time I want to keep my mobile number. Then with portability they can switch to Geocell which can provide the service and together keep their own number.
Q. MobiPay had been actively engaged in providing different campaigns and programmes to its clients. What are the new company’s campaign plans?
A. MobiPay has eight to ten campaigns coming up. We have a big ongoing membership programme which will provide additional and continuous prices to MobiPay customers. We have Back to School and Geocell campaigns. Moreover, Novo Group and ICR campaigns are coming up in the September-October period, as well as Karvasla, Goodwill and Wissol campaigns. As for the summer period, there will be several merchant campaigns in Batumi.