One of the biggest challenges for e-commerce businesses in cash-based economies is the lack of efficient payment gateways. With less than spectacular penetration for debit cards and constrained-by-ceiling mobile payment methods, true e-commerce is incomplete. Pure Platform, Iraq’s first fintech startup is looking to change this for Iraq and all other cash-based economies.
Pure Platform is on a mission to be the world’s first trust-less and friction-less (does not apply any fees) B2B2C platform. They aim to solve the biggest fintech and e-commerce problem – cash! Moe Alkhafaji, the founder of Pure Platform, started the Baghdad-based business in 2019.
The Pure Platform Solution.
Pure Platform aims to offer a win-win situation for all parties involved. Whereby the customer becomes the ultimate beneficiary.
The platform offers a painless and seamless way to convert cash into digital forms called Kidus. It empowers existing payment gateways to close the loop and provide true e-commerce platforms to end customers. This is significant for companies benefiting from enabling new economies in their respective countries, or the MENA region in general. It is also beneficial for businesses, customers, and local revenue tax agencies.
Here are five ways Pure Platform will provide ample opportunities for businesses in Iraq and other cash-based economies:
1. Conversational Advertisement.
Pure Platform offers a platform for businesses to interact with other businesses and customers seamlessly, without enslaving themselves to any new cost, contracts or obligations.
By paying the cost of acquisition straight to customers and other purchasing businesses, this enables them to lower the cost of their products and services without having to compromise today’s profits. In a very competitive market, commodity products and services would benefit the most, allowing Pure Platform’s clients to become the most cost-effective providers in the market. It would be difficult to compete with them on price.
The platform is not just a connector. It provides several integrated features that make this interaction even more efficient and beneficial to both ends. One of these features is their patented Conversational Advertisement tool that allows businesses to have two way conversations with subsets of their target population without knowing the identities of their customers.
While conventional advertising methods are a one way discussion without any feedback, Conversational Advertisement allows for two way interaction to remove noise and focus the lens on what customers really want. Real time analyses and reports give feedback and insights for businesses to fine-tune their operations that target new customers and service them better. Insights are driven by state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms that get smarter over time with more data and learned heuristics. All of this is provided without requiring significant changes in behavior for either party involved in the ecosystem, which is critical in developing and emerging markets.
2. The most valuable reward points program.
Generally, reward points programs offer limited value due to their inherent entanglement with profits per transaction models. Pure Platform is the only global reward points ecosystem that doesn’t impose transaction fees, which enables points earned (Kidus) to be significant in value.
There is no expiration date on the Kidus and no minimum amount needed to redeem for products and services. Customers and purchasing businesses earn significant earnings (averaging 12% per transaction) per purchase. This provides increased purchasing power using their existing budgets without disrupting workflow or sacrificing convenience, quality, money, privacy, or confidentiality. The reward points system compliments any existing payment gateway such as credit/debit cards and mobile payments, because its rewards will hide any fees associated with these payment gateways. Converting them from financially subtracting in value to additive.
The goal is to provide incentives for customers in cash-based economies to use debit cards and mobile payments. Kidus are not just simple points, they are the units of a very complex ecosystem that is designed to provide maximum value without compromising existing advantages of alternative systems. Moe refers to Kidu transactions as “faster than cash” because it takes 3-5 seconds to complete a transaction using Kidus, while cash (and other forms of payments) take longer.
While Kidus are not a form of digital currency, they are interchangeable and allow customers to spend them on any product or service offered through the Pure Platform ecosystem (brick and mortar as well as online businesses).
Kidus do not qualify as currency because they lack basic properties of currencies, such as cash withdrawal abilities. They are also non-speculative; although they can be earned or purchased directly, and increase in value based on growing demand, Kidus cannot be bought speculatively for profits outside of the mechanics of the ecosystem. This complete ecosystem does not only provide or enable true e-commerce, it actually creates new transactions (in Kidus) in the market that didn’t and would never exist without this ecosystem.
3. An all inclusive e-commerce ecosystem.
Pure Platform is a true e-commerce platform that allows businesses and customers to integrate and plug in freely and without any fees. Everyone reaps the full benefits of direct interaction without middlemen.
One competitive edge of this platform is the implementation of a Universal Shopping Cart . Customers can select products and services from multiple unconnected businesses all in one shopping experience and use one shopping cart.
The startup’s strength is not necessarily embodied in their creation of an e-commerce platform, but in the creation of an ecosystem where any business and any form of payment (digital or non-digital) can be integrated into the platform and used by Pure Platform’s customers.
“Our focus is strictly on enablement rather than on the e-commerce platform itself. Consequently, we can actually work perfectly with other e-commerce applications and payment gateways rather than compete with them because the more that integrate into the ecosystem, the more valuable the ecosystem becomes.”
The platform’s power and growth is driven by user adoption and collaboration, not purchases. Which makes it complimentary to debit cards and mobile payments, as well as for e-commerce providers and applications.
4. Offline access means weak internet is no problem.
The company’s competitive advantage stems from their cutting-edge technology and security. One example is the offline settlement feature. Due to Internet challenges (slow as well as unavailability), the platform provides a lightweight application with most features working offline.
Pure Platform also provides the world’s first offline settlement feature. Customers can be completely offline and will still be able to interact with businesses and complete transactions. Somewhat similar to the Lightning Network offered by some cryptocurrencies, although transactions are not accepted by the network until both buyer and seller are eventually online. Pure Platform, however, never requires the buyer to be online for the transaction to be completed.
5. Customer privacy is a number one priority.
Pure Platform analyses market data and applies bleeding edge machine learning algorithms and cutting-edge technology. Such data helps businesses sell more and lets customers buy intelligently, driven by their preferences.
While the interaction between businesses and customers is seamless and friction-less, Pure Platform preserves customers’ privacy and confidentiality by bringing the control of personal data back to the customer. The platform enables customers to interact fully with businesses, without disclosing any personally identifiable data. In line with Pure Platform’s philosophy of “we will never sell or share your individually identifiable data”. Customers will retain their privacy and confidentiality while getting paid for their normal day to day shopping.
E-commerce startups in Iraq heavily rely on a cash-on-delivery model which makes it difficult to improve efficiency and scale businesses. A common problem is upon delivering the product, when the buyer changes their mind at the door and refuses to pay. Time and money is wasted on sourcing and delivering the item, and it becomes difficult to implement a return policy or buyer commitment.
Additionally, there are cultural challenges related to the mistrust of digital payments and banks. Unless spearheaded by government initiatives, it is difficult to incentivise the population to change their money handling habits. Many companies are trying to introduce e-payment options, but penetration rates are extremely low. There is little motivation to change the status quo. Cash in hand, under the mattress or in the closet are what most people feel comfortable with.
With this in mind, Pure Platform is offering a unique and well-organised alternative for cash-based economies. Its competitive ecosystem is a strong and viable alternative to traditional methods of online shopping. Providing strong incentives for customers and businesses to join the platform, shows a promising start for widespread change in user behaviour with e-payments.
Pure Platform’s growth and adoption in Iraq is something to observe closely in the years to come. Fintech initiatives in Iraq are commonly lead by larger companies. This is the first time a startup is entering the space with a unique offering. No doubt it will also pave the way for future fintech businesses to emerge.
Read more about startups in Iraq here and comment with your thoughts below!
This article was co-written by Moe Alkhafaji and Zahra Shah.