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Gateway To Growth: Monty Group's Mountasser Hachem Is Tapping Into The Multi-Billion Dollar Fintech Industry With MontyPay By launching digital payment gateway MontyPay aims to negate the obsolete nature of existing payment gateways with a one-stop-shop approach to its services.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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Monty Group
Mountasser Hachem, founder and CEO, Monty Group

Right from his foray into business in 1998 with telecommunications firm Monty Mobile, to his role today as the founder and CEO of London-headquartered Monty Group, there have been a few traits that have been recurrently used in reports to describe Mountasser Hachem: ambitious, fearless, and always ready to take risks.

As such, one can credit Hachem's boldness in envisioning goals that is underlining Monty Group's recent move into the fintech sector with the launch of Monty Finance, a sister company of Monty Mobile. And Hachem has kicked off the venture with two key offerings: the neobank, MyMonty, and the digital payment gateway, MontyPay. While MyMonty's blockchain-based digital banking services will be launched as a pilot in Europe in January 2022, MontyPay's global payment gateway is already underway in countries such as the UK, Australia, UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Nigeria, and many more. At the moment, MontyPay is central to Hachem's vision to gaining a firm footing in the global fintech sector. "It is true that payment gateways have been around for a long time now, yet they are limited to basic features that would soon be outdated," Hachem says. "We, at Monty Group, are striving to offer you comprehensive new capabilities that can boost your business, and hence give you an edge over your competitors."

Indeed, it is the obsolete nature of existing payment gateways that forms the crux of the problem that MontyPay is trying to solve. In fact, its launch comes at a particularly significant stage within the global business ecosystem, given the larger acceptance of cashless payments and mobile wallets over the past two years. While a report by Mordor Intelligence notes that the global payment gateway industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.43% until 2026, there are still quite a few merchants across the MENA region scrambling to achieve seamless migration to online platforms. And while there is an obvious need for platforms that address online payment challenges for merchants, there is also a dearth of solutions. A 2021 study by Yahoo! Finance shows that, in the Middle East in particular, this can be attributed to a lack of regulatory framework for online payment gateways, absence of payment security protocols, as well as high setup costs associated with online payment gateways.

And this is where MontyPay comes into the picture– it aims to negate all these issues with a one-stop-shop approach to its services. "Digital transition is at the core of our vision," Hachem says. "With digital banking gaining momentum and becoming part of our daily lives, Monty Group has been striving to level up users' experience and meet their expectations. Focused on ease of integration and fast customer on-boarding, MontyPay can literally make your life easier. Unlike other payment gateways, it offers all possible features tailored to your needs."

MontyPay thus not only aims to offer a simple and secure platform to carry out online transactions; it also offers merchants the ability to access global markets, regardless of their own location. Its services are available not only in the Middle East, but in over 50 countries around the world, and it offers the use of over 100 payment methods. "The ability to execute a transaction anywhere on the planet is what MontyPay is targeting," Hachem explains. "Not to mention, the onboarding process is easy and hassle-free- only a few steps are required, with no obstacles along the way, and no hidden fees. The same applies for the check-out process; it can be done online through the merchant's website or store application."

Related: 2021, The Year That Was: Tim Cordon, Area Vice President for the Middle East and Africa (MEA), Radisson Hotel Group

By enabling easy access to online payment services, what the MontyPay platform ultimately offers can be enticing to any merchant: the opportunity to set up a payment for an e-commerce business within 24 hours. In fact, this omnichannel gateway can be adapted to other payment types such as pay by link, recurring payments, mPOS, and SoftPOS. Using an e-commerce application programming interface plug-in, as well as a mobile software development kit, business owners can start accepting payments immediately through their websites or their store applications, gaining access to all major online payment methods. "In other words, MontyPay offers you the opportunity to process all online payments in a seamless way through one single platform," Hachem says. "Not to mention that speed remains the best asset, because for each transaction, we offer fast fund settlement within 24 hours."

Mountasser Hachem, founder and CEO, Monty Group. Source: Monty Group

With compliance and cybersecurity being another point of concern for merchants, MontyPay has that aspect covered on its platform as well. For starters, all its services comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. "A fraud management tool is provided, in addition to a high level of security and strict compliance rules," Hachem adds. "We actually make sure that every single detail is aligned with strict compliance norms and standards. Our fraud system can detect any eventual fraud and decline the transaction."

Add to that reporting dashboards that allow real-time tracking of transactions and real-time data analytics, as well as a loyalty program to help merchants improve connections with existing and potential customers, and it becomes clear that MontyPay is adopting an all-rounded approach towards online transactions. "As part of a seamless payment experience, MontyPay also offers the smart routing functionality allowing merchants to identify cost-effective routes or ones with higher chance of acceptance," adds Hachem. "This feature is extremely important for international businesses to increase their acceptance rate and to minimize their cost."

Notably, MontyPay also offers merchants a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) option, allowing the merchants' customers to purchase whatever they want, and pay for it by installments. The latter is taken care of by MontyPay, and the merchant gets paid within 24 hours. "Also, as part of our mission to support our merchants, we actively contribute by providing them lending facilities to help grow their business," Hachem adds. But the BNPL service in particular is a win-win situation for all, according to the founder. "We are always attentive to the needs of our end-customers, and we try as much as possible to make their lives easier," says Hachem. "This comes through our extensive experience in dealing with consumers and understanding their needs."

As a result, MontyPay is also on a mission to solve two major pain points for customers as well: financial exclusion, and not having the means to transact on online platforms. With MontyPay aiming to become a global avenue for online payments, it has also enabled the use of cryptocurrency for its transactions. And it is a move that is reflective of Hachem's ability to identify profitable consumer trends within the fintech sector. "As part of our globalization strategy, MontyPay was carefully thought through in order to embrace any kind of payment from customers," explains Hachem. "Therefore, merchants will be able to accept any cryptocurrency payment method, whether bitcoin or others, for deposits and will get paid directly in their bank accounts in any of the major global currencies. Plus, no intervention is needed from the merchant's side since we handle the whole process from A-to-Z!"

MontyPay's ability to inculcate the end-user's requirements into its services almost definitely stems from Hachem's overall vision for his organization's digitization journey. "In the midst of the digital wave, people still feel the need to interact with one another," he states. "Technology is not here to omit this; yet, there have been a lot of downfalls with digital-only approaches. What we are doing is avoiding this by going on a hybrid approach between tech and human interaction. Technology has been created to facilitate human bonds, not to disrupt it, and the microservices technology especially should be easily tailorable to the changing consumer needs."

Now, while MontyPay is the first step towards Monty Finance's endeavors in fintech, its end goals tie in very closely with what Hachem's ultimate vision is: establishing a global neobank, which is the aforementioned MyMonty. "Our vision is to become the go-to neobank aiming to address and resolve the challenge of financial exclusion around the world," says Hachem. "We strive to give everyone the right to basic banking and financial services, thus, playing a vital role in the financial inclusion of a large, excluded part of the population worldwide, which has been struggling to satisfy normal banking needs, or even access any basic financial requirement."

And with the global fintech sector rapidly growing and expected to reach a market value of US$324 billion by the year 2026, Hashem believes that moving further into this industry will only prove to be advantageous to his enterprise. "As part of our wider plan to establish our own global neo digital banking offering, entering the world of fintech was an inevitable step in order to meet the current global trend," he says. "The evolution in this technology is also opening doors to new challenges, hence new opportunities for Monty Group."

It is this bright outlook that Hachem hopes to keep going as he hopes to see more business owners in the MENA region and beyond partner with his enterprise to widen their reach, seize market opportunities, and increase revenues. "For all merchants out there, if you're willing to grow your business, it is time for you to take the plunge," he concludes. "By having us as partners, we will tackle your issues, understand your needs and advise you in order to help you stand out from your competitors!"

The Executive Summary: Monty Group Chairman Mountasser Hachem's tips for business leaders

It ain't over till it's over. "My personal motto is two-fold: keep walking, and never give up."

The people around you matter. "Always believe in the team, and make it a point to motivate them."

Figure out what you stand for, and work toward it. "Align passion with purpose."

It's not only about you. "Make your decisions with your people in mind."

Related: Pursuing Progress: Murshed Al Redaini, Group CEO, Yas Holding

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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