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Startup Spotlight: SkipCash Is On A Mission To Enhance Contactless Digital Payments In Qatar Qatari entrepreneur Mohammed Al Delaimi stumbled on the idea for SkipCash whilst exploring shopping and payment experiences in both online and offline scenarios.

By Pamella de Leon

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Mohammed Al Delaimi, founder and Managing Director, SkipCash.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, global retail commerce has increasingly gone cashless, and contactless payments have taken on a different level of adoption. It is in this landscape that Qatari entrepreneur Mohammed Al Delaimi is introducing SkipCash, a fintech platform he founded that offers a convenient payment experience for consumers and merchants alike, in order to reduce the need for cash, physical cards, and point-of-sale (POS) devices.

Al Delaimi, who holds a master's degree in strategic business unit management from HEC Paris and serves as an Executive Director of Strategy and Corporate Planning at Qatari satellite company Es'hailSat, stumbled on the idea for SkipCash whilst exploring shopping and payment experiences in both online and offline scenarios. "We wanted to solve the problem for both consumers and merchants when they do a cashless and digital transaction," Al Delaimi says.

As he explains it, SkipCash aims to solve three main issues that pop up in such situations: one, merchants need a POS device to accept cashless transactions, two, they have to acquire a POS device from a bank, which can prove difficult owing to cost and bank requirements, and, three, such POS devices are only useful within a store, and cannot be used for deliveries and other on-the-move services.

Licensed by the Qatar Financial Center and regulated by the Qatar Central Bank, SkipCash, which was launched in December 2020, offers consumers and merchants with a suite of payment solutions, such as a mobile app, payment gateway, and payment links. The app (available on Android and iOS devices) enables users to securely add their credit card, track spending, and organize payment receipts. It can also send and receive payments using mobile numbers, enable virtual accounts for children and family members, and give access to vouchers, coupons and cashback offers from merchant partners.

Meanwhile, for merchants, the startup reduces the need for cash transactions, physical cards, and POS devices by enabling transactions electronically using a proprietary QR code for in-person payments, as well as online payment gateway solutions. "We want to make it pleasant to pay, have peace of mind, and unify this pleasant experience for all payment scenarios- online, offline, and in-person," Al Delaimi says. "We stand out by building a reputable fintech brand through solid partnerships, a great user interface and experience, customized payment methods, a holistic view of the business from different channels, the flexibility of the solutions, as well as prompt customer support."

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Mohammed Al-Delaimi, founder and Managing Director of SkipCash, and Lana Khalaf, General Manager, Microsoft Qatar, at a signing ceremony held at QSTP. Source: SkipCash

SkipCash's business model involves taking a percentage from every successful transaction from the merchant, with a monthly subscription available for a customized payment solution. And so far, its strategy is working- Al Delaimi says that since its launch, the app has been downloaded more than 32,000 times, onboarded over 530 merchants, and processed more than 50,000 trans- actions. In a span of two years, the startup has achieved noteworthy growth too: in July 2020, the startup received QAR700,000 (approximately US$192,000) from the Qatar Science and Technology Park's product development fund, a grant awarded to Qatar SMEs for offerings that address local market needs. In the same month, the startup also joined Visa's Fintech Fast Track Program, with which SkipCash was able to easily integrate and leverage the capabilities and security of VisaNet, the latter's global payment network.

As part of the program, SkipCash also had access to Visa's extensive partner network and experts who offered support and guidance. The following year, SkipCash went on to raise an additional QAR7 million ($1.92 million) in a pre-seed funding round from private Qatari investors, enabling the startup to expand its data infrastructure and services across Qatar. In 2021, SkipCash struck a strategic alliance with online food ordering and delivery service provider, Foodak, which ended up being a timely collaboration as consumers specifically sought out contactless payment options given the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. SkipCash customers were able to save their credit cards on the food delivery app, and then pay for their orders (and tip as well) upon delivery by simply scanning a QR code, without any extra fees.

This year, in February, the startup signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft Qatar to help SkipCash scale and grow its features and capabilities using the cloud computing platform Microsoft Azure. As part of the one-year agreement, Microsoft will offer guidance and introduce the SkipCash team to its partner ecosystem, as well as offer opportunities to join upskilling workshops.

Related: Maximizing In-Country Value: The Key To Qatar's Economic Future

Hamad Aljaber, Manager of Regional Sales at beIN MENA, and Mohammed Al Delaimi, founder and Managing Director, SkipCash. Source: SkipCash

Another recent partnership SkipCash engineered was with beIN Media Group, the global sports and entertainment broadcaster that holds exclusive broadcasting rights in the MENA region to some of the biggest international sporting events like the FIFA World Cup, English Premiere League, and more. With the collaboration, SkipCash will be integrated into beIN's payment options, allowing customers to link their credit cards in the app and pay at beIN kiosks and store outlets using the QR code.

Commenting on the entrepreneurial journey he has been on, Al Delaimi states that the biggest challenge he faced (and continues to face) is the fact that the local startup ecosystem is still underdeveloped. But even though such hurdles exist, Al Delaimi notes that there are certain advantages of building a business in the peninsula too. "Qatar's high gross domestic product makes every startup want to operate here," he points out. "Although the population is very low, the market potential is lucrative. Business relations here are built on trust and networks, and with the right network and good representation, you could scale rapidly."

When it comes to advice for his fellow entrepreneurs, Al Delaimi urges them to always look at things with a collaborative mindset, be it with their own team, or with partnerships with external entities. Cash flow is another thing he thinks startups should always keep an eye on, saying, "Preserve your funding, and plan for the worse. Think long-term, and be patient." As for what's next on the horizon for SkipCash, Al Delaimi says that he and his team are currently in discussions with stakeholders for an expansion in Oman, and a regional expansion is part of their long-term goals too. Al Delaimi is also gearing up to raise a seed funding round for his company, and thereby get SkipCash one step closer to its final goal, which he states is for SkipCash to "be the most flexible payment solution startup in the region." Fingers crossed for SkipCash!

Related: Startup Spotlight: Silicon Valley-Based Predictiv Is Bringing Its DNA Testing Expertise To The UAE

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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