In this edition of #FintechProductDiaries, we talked to Hamid Noor, Digital Products Architect at easypaisa — Pakistan’s No. 1 payments fintech. Easypaisa was launched in 2009 by the global communications giant, Telenor Group, in partnership with Telenor Microfinance Bank (previously Tameer Microfinance Bank) to empower the underserved masses in Pakistan with its ground-breaking digital payments technology.
Today, easypaisa has become a staple for money transfers in the region with over 10 million monthly active users. But easypaisa is much more than money transfers — it offers a complete suite of digital financial services for both individual customers and businesses including a mobile wallet, mobile payments, insurance and branchless banking services.
Hamid’s first experience with easypaisa dates back to 2018 and his final-year project at university. Interestingly, easypaisa recruited Hamid as a Service Reliability Engineer (SRE) straight from the university after he was awarded a distinction for his cutting-edge biotech project. Two years on, and after a number of successful product launches, Hamid left his graduate job to pursue a product management role at United Bank Limited where he was instrumental in the implementation of the company’s AI-Powered WhatsApp banking solution.
But just as the saying goes, “old love never dies”, Hamid has recently re-joined easypaisa as a Senior Solution Architect. He described his return as “going back to home”, and he’s now looking forward to contributing to all the exciting projects on easypaisa’s future digital roadmap like their own upcoming Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offering, for example.
Why customer experience (CX) is the backbone of fintech? And what’s the key to creating the best CX? Learn the answers to these questions and more, in Hamid’s complete story below.
As mentioned in the intro above, Hamid had a rather unconventional entry into the fintech job market. After receiving a distinction for his ground-breaking year-end biotech project in 2018, easypaisa’s leadership team invited him to discuss how he could potentially apply the same innovative principles he used in his university project in fintech product development. The discussion led to a job offer and Hamid joined the easypaisa’s IT operations team as a Service Reliability Engineer.
Shortly after that, Hamid was promoted to a Solution Architect and he was given the responsibility to manage the development of some of the company’s core solutions like Payment Gateway, QR and Mobile Wallet.
“In easypaisa, I was mainly looking after its Payment Gateway along with its mobile wallet and digital banking solutions. I quickly made my way from IT operations to Solution Architecture. And then my career journey took an interesting direction and I received the opportunity from United Bank Limited, which was the first and emerging digital bank in Pakistan, to become part of its digital transformation and transition to mobile payments.”
Hamid’s initial experience in IT operations and customer support proved to be essential for his future career development and success. Having that direct interaction with the end-users helped Hamid and his team to truly understand the exact customer pain points and create the ultimate customer experience which drives loyalty and revenue.
“Each and every product is (or should be) addressing any existing customer pain points. So, by empowering the customers, and resolving their pain points, we witnessed rapid growth in revenue acquisition from digital payments, even before the pandemic and the massive shift to digital. That almost obsessive focus on the end-user and on resolving their issues helped us design awesome customer experiences and some outstanding technical solutions.”
But maintaining that high standard of customer experience is not easy, especially in such a fast-growing and fiercely competitive industry like fintech. According to Hamid, the biggest challenge for him and his team in 2022 will be to differentiate from all the competitors who are now entering the market and striving to provide an even better and more unique customer experience.
“The [key] difference is whoever gives the great customer experience gets the loyal customers. So, to do this, we have to be one step ahead of our competitors and set examples for them, because of our legacy and reputation in the space. So, the real challenge is really maintaining that standard, because we have actually set the bar very high.”
For most fintech product developers, compliance is probably their biggest nightmare. But Hamid is lucky enough to actually see Pakistan’s regulator as a friend rather than an enemy.
“I really appreciate the regulator of Pakistan and its support. So far, whenever we have faced a compliance issue that would hinder us to deliver that specific customer experience, we’d go to the regulator and they’ll do anything possible to help us solve the issue. So, from that perspective, I appreciate the Central Bank of Pakistan is doing an amazing job of Financial Inclusion and Democratisation.”
“Whatever the regulator can’t assist with, we’d tackle it internally by working around our existing frameworks. So, we’ll sit at one table with our compliance and legal colleagues, and look for any possible ways to fine-tune our technology stack and our product portfolio to comply with regulation and avoid compromising on the customer experience.”
Similar to other emerging markets, the state of financial literacy in the country plays a key role in the development of the Pakistani fintech sector. Hamid highlighted that:
“Each and every fintech [in Pakistan] is trying their best to raise financial literacy in the country and drive financial inclusion”.
New technologies like contactless payments, blockchain, crypto, and open banking are also still in their infancy, and according to Hamid, there is a huge potential for disruptors and newcomers in the market.