Thawani: Mobile e-payment start-up

 

Thawani, the innovative mobile e-payment start-up, launched on May 1, offers a safe and simple alternative payment method to cash, credit and debit cards.

The new Thawani application is an integrated platform to manage the payments system for both consumers and business owners. It does so by using smart phones and QR codes in a way that fully maintains the user’s data privacy and is in line with the highest local and international regulatory standards. The application also includes a special version for business owners, allowing them to easily manage the payments process, the income, and the billing systems from their smart phones. The new payments platform performs regardless of the size of the company or the number of branches and it can do so remotely, without the owner having to be present at the company.

Thawani is also compliant to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS), as well as featuring additional level security protocols. Among the key features of these security controls is the linking of the user account to the user’s SIM card and Device serial number. This will ensure that the application will not work if the SIM card is removed but the user still can change the SIM card through certain process within the App. Besides, all local cards transactions are secured with an additional PIN shared by a One-time-password (OTP) by the local payment gateway. The OTP will be sent to the registered owner number at the issuing bank. So, while making a transaction, the user doesn’t have to share his personal or banking details with any merchant; all that is required in order to pay is the merchant unique ID or the mobile number or scan his QR code and authenticate with the user finger print or his PIN on his own device.

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Since the very beginning of the App’s development phase, Thawani has been engaging all key stakeholders including the Central Bank of Oman. Thawani involved a number of experts in security and technology during the development phase in order to align the business model to the latest industry practices. As a result, to ensure maximum privacy and security, all linked bank cards are tokenized and encrypted in a secured environment away from the user device.

In the following interview, Majid Al Amri, Founder and Managing Director of Thawani, talks about the inception of the start-up and the ways and means of going about using it in everyday financial dealings.

How did Thawani come about?  Tell us about the people behind the scene…

The story of Thawani dates back to 2006, when I was trying to get into e-commerce to fulfil my passion for innovation. However, I kept hitting a roadblock that was impossible to overcome -‘Payments’. This was because all my dreams of building an e-commerce hub were dependent on a local payment gateway. I subsequently started working on a strategy for developing a smart payment gateway; a gateway that would enable people to do business easily, efficiently and in a smart matter. It was this payment gateway that eventually developed into Thawani as we know it today.

Why was a need felt to initiate a portal like Thawani? What are its objectives?

As mentioned, the primary reason that drove the development of Thawani was the need for a new quicker and smarter local payment gateway. Our primary objective with the app is to provide people with absolute speed and convenience when making financial transactions.

How will this app help in everyday activities? Is it available for all? 

Yes, the app is available for anyone in Oman. However, the benefits one receives from the app varies, depending on the type of user. For Consumers, the app provides convenience, security, and privacy. For merchants, the app offers simplicity in accepting payments, scalability, and affordable rates.

What are the steps to download it? Any fees involved…?

Users and merchants can download the app from the Android Google Play Store or Apple App Store free of charge, once it is available. For merchant however, there will be some fees. More details on these fees and the unique features of the app can be found on our website at http://www.thawani.om/.

What are the challenges, if any?

There are two primary challenges we face – awareness and cultural change.They are both, in a way, tied to each other. Oman as a whole, by its very nature, is tied to tradition and anything that is a drastic departure from the norm takes a while to be completely accepted by the general public. As such we aim to spread awareness on the app and the technologies we use. We are working on educating the general public on the high-levels of privacy and security that our systems adhere to; all of which are to the highest international standards. The response, however, has been quite positive so far and we feel this app will do quite well once it is launched to the general public.

What are the future plans/ideas for Thawani?

Thawani is a platform that will continue to evolve. We will constantly work towards adding more products and features. We will also continue to expand our partnerships; in turn providing our customers with an ever-expanding portfolio or partner stores. The eventual plan however, is to have an international presence not just local.

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