Dubai-Based Startup PointCheckout Launches New App To Reduce Digital Payment Pain Points For SMEs Across The UAE

"Our focus from day one has been on customer service and automation, which is very unique in the payments industry, especially in the UAE."

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PointCheckout
Bashar Saleh and Tarek Ghobar, co-founders, PointCheckout

For small and medium enterprises in the UAE, while the quick move to digitization in the recent past has signaled a new road towards growth, it has also meant that some merchants still haven’t caught up with the changing trends. Possibly the most significant among these trends is the shift towards cashless, digital payments. For small businesses, even a few failed payments or discarded purchases can pose severe repercussions, which makes this a key area to focus and develop on. And there are ample statistics to prove this business sentiment. A 2021 study by Mastercard highlights that one of the top three areas that SMEs in the country want to focus on is “acceptance of digital payments.”

Keeping in line with these shifts in the ecosystem, Dubai-based PointCheckout launched a new payment app called ThePayLink.com amid the pandemic. The in5-located fintech startup, which was launched in 2016 and primarily enables customers to use reward points and miles at online checkout points, introduced this new vertical in 2020 in an effort to cater to what founder and CEO Bashar Saleh says is a glaring gap in the market. “The UAE’s digital payments surpassed cash transactions for the first time in 2020, but a significant percentage of merchants are still not accepting digital payments,” Saleh says. “PointCheckout set out to tackle the difficulty that SMEs face in processing online payments and digitizing their financial transactions. Our team has been working with digital payments and rewards for financial institutions for the past five years, and during the pandemic we launched a new payment app called ThePayLink.com, as we saw an opportunity to open our payment platform to SMEs and tackle that market gap in the UAE.”

Related: The UAE Digital Economy: Weaving The Thread Between Innovation And Legislation

Built with the aim to ease the process of setting up an online marketplace for merchants as well as the digital payments that follow, PointCheckout’s PayLink app offers merchants features such as sending links for remote payment within 30 seconds of purchase without the need for a full online store, as well as setting up a basic online store without having to take assistance from web developers. “Our focus from day one has been on customer service and automation, which is very unique in the payments industry, especially in the UAE,” claims Saleh. “Merchants can apply within a few minutes through a fully automated know-your-customer form and verification process, and digitally activate their account upon approval. Automating processes allows us to onboard hundreds of merchants per month on one hand, and still be fully compliant with the rules and regulations.”

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And with hundreds of merchants now shifting online and largely depending on digital payments as a result, Saleh says it has resulted in PayLink’s transactional volume growing tenfold in the past year. This has also led the startup to secure the interest of investors as well. “To date, our startup has raised over US$1 million in funding from esteemed local investors such as Kuwait’s Arzan Venture Capital, Saudi Arabia’s Hala Venture Capital, and 500 startups among others,” he notes. In terms of team size, the startup currently has 15 employees, who are located across both its offices in Dubai as well as in Amman. In Dubai, the company is incubated under in5, which has allowed the startup to enjoy many benefits as a business. “in5, as an incubator and a community, has all the elements needed by founders to start their business, from subsidized startup registration costs, to mentorship, to access to investors, and eventually, community events,” he says. “The network has helped us connect with investors, clients, and mentors, and given us additional credibility in meeting some of the challenges of starting up.”

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When asked what his advice for budding entrepreneurs is, Saleh is forthright in his response. “There is never an ideal time to start, so the best thing to do is to just start,” he says. “The plan will never be 100% ready, so just start ,and figure out the details along the way. Early founders need to remember that they will not have the answers to everything at the start. There is plenty of free help, and it's always advised to have a mentor, someone to turn to, for questions and advice. Engage investors early in your journey, and always keep showing progress no matter how small the steps are. And most importantly, feel comfortable with failing, it will happen; so, face it head on, learn, and improve!”

Related: Go Big Or Go Home: More Middle Eastern Boldness Is Needed To Break "The Scale-Up Ceiling"

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Written By

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and is also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program. A self-proclaimed bibliophile, she has a penchant for chai, cricket, and all things BTS.