Mohammed Al-Khafaji is the mastermind behind the leading fintech in Iraq – Pure Platform, serving both as its Founder and Executive Manager. Pure Platform is an e-commerce app that has established itself as a unique and innovative enterprise, providing a platform for purchasing and shipping products from international retailers, including giants such as Amazon in the US, Souq in the UAE and Trendyol in Turkey.
The e-commerce company is dedicated to bridging the gap between a seamless shopping experience and efficient payment solutions. With a focus on inclusivity, their digitised options empower customers globally, making shopping enjoyable while guaranteeing security. Their mission is to enable those with limited financial access to shop internationally from the comfort of their homes.
In this article we delve into the fascinating journey of Pure Platform’s growth and acquisition, as Mohammed narrates the narrative that led to the sale of Pure Platform’s licensing to one of the largest companies in Iraq. The outcome? A seven-figure transaction that will leave an impact in the world of fintech in Iraq.
From Inspiration to Innovation
Mohammed shares the innovative psyche behind Pure Platform, beginning with an anecdote. Al-Mutanabi street is well-known in Baghdad to be a vibrant hub for talented craftsmen and artists to sell handmade goods. It was there that inspiration struck Mohammed, and he thought “what would it be like to digitise Al-Mutanabi?”. It was such passion for entrepreneurship and digitisation that gave birth to Pure Platform.
Pure Platform is a homegrown American enterprise since 2019 with an Iraq-based model whereby their local partner spearheads operations while Pure handles the technical aspects. The model involves licensing out the company to local entities.
Presently, discussions are underway across seven countries regarding licensing arrangements. These licensing deals, each commanding seven-digit figures, underpin an increasing interest in Iraqi companies, fostering their growth and encouraging investment in Iraq. This distinctive licensing agreement is subject to renewal every few years, contingent upon local companies meeting predefined developmental goals and sharing gross profits. Presenting a pioneering archetype for Iraqi fintech startups.
Pure Platform’s Secret
Regarding entrepreneurship, one can take two paths. Either sell the concept, which in general has limited value, or sell the application itself. “Our success in Iraq has become a standard for our success in other countries, especially the Gulf nations,” Mohammed emphasises.
Today, Iraq is undergoing a digital transformation but challenges are still faced in making digital payments and online shopping mainstream. To encourage digital payments, Pure Platform implemented ‘Aksadi’, a buy-now-pay-later service affiliated with QiCard.
Despite offering shipping at a mere 250 Iraqi dinars, Pure Platform still manages to generate profits. Meticulously driven by artificial intelligence and its algorithms, there lies the secret of their streamlined operations and logistics. These algorithms dive into the intricate details of costs, customs, and shipping estimates, optimising profitability.
What differentiates Pure Platform from their competitors is their possession of cutting-edge technology that is extremely challenging to replicate. The strength of the technology gives Mohammed the confidence to speak openly and transparently about their business models and future plans.
Pure Platform is finalising their seven-figure acquisition by QiCard.
Mohammed commended QiCard’s decisiveness and openness to technology, saying that it played a huge factor in his decision to pursue an agreement with them against a pool of other companies.
“The mindset of Iraqi investors still revolves around assets, real estate and appearances” Mohammed exclaimed. “That should differ when it comes to the acquisition of technological companies, and QiCard possessed that line of thought which catalysed the acquisition process”.
The end goal is to craft a plug-and-play framework that is repeatable and versatile. Thereby creating an integrated network of countries where trade flows from one to the other. According to Mohammed, “our plan by June of next year is to launch in ten countries.” In just one month’s time, Pure Platform have already expanded into Saudi Arabia, demonstrating their nimbleness and the power of their AI models to adapt quickly to new environments and customs.
Here, a question invariably arises. Why opt for acquisition instead of a partnership? Mohammed was faced with two options from QiCard in which he could either a) partner with QiCard and integrate its buy-now-pay-later service (Aksadi) to their app, or b) QiCard could buy the license to operate in Iraq and integrate Asksadi themselves.
Considering the fact that a partnership would offer advantages such as reduced licensing expenses and more flexibility in disengagement, Mohammed explains that the decision to sell the license involved evaluating the strategic, long-term picture.
Pioneering Fintech in Iraq
Mohammed underscores the importance of building a business model that is sustainable and scalable, rather than relying on short-term opportunities impacted by currency fluctuations or government decisions.
Harnessing the power of AI presents its own set of challenges. Adequate data is pivotal for accelerating learning, but the quantity required remains a key concern.
In the case of Pure Platform, the absence of a database detailing prohibited merchandise complicates the detection process. The second challenge revolves around determining the best algorithm and parameters to teach AI to adapt and thrive in dynamic environments.
In Iraqi fintech, Pure Platform is a pioneering force, poised to reshape commerce. Their journey is an alluring fusion of innovation and tenacity, illuminated by technology’s transformative capacity.