Prior to incorporating ShurjoPay (written as shurjoPay) into their system, Bangladesh International School and College (BISC) used to collect tuition fees from students in-person, meaning the guardian or student had to physically go to the school to make the payment.
ShurjoPay changed all that. Now there is no reason for BISC students and guardians to sit through noisy and exhaustive traffic in the scorching Dhaka heat, instead, they can pay the tuition fees from anywhere.
ShurjoPay is the first online payment gateway of Bangladesh founded in 2010, when e-commerce was just starting to take off in Bangladesh. An online payment gateway (PG) is a tunnel that connects your bank account to the platform where you need to transfer your money. Not only that, it also connects the MFSs. ShurjoPay acts as an aggregator between their merchants and all the payment services (Banks, MFSs) available in Bangladesh. Using shurjoPay, any e-commerce business, education institute or any other institutes can collect their payments from their users.
So, how exactly does ShurjoPay operate?
To avail ShurjoPay's service, a company or an institution has to contact them. Then, the said company's website will have ShurjoPay integrated, meaning when anyone visits a website, they will find ShurjoPay, where they can click and make payments using whichever platform or card they choose: it can be VISA, MasterCard, AmEx, Diners Club, Nexus or QCash card along with bKash, Nagad, MCash, Rocket, etc.
Once the payment is made, ShurjoPay wires the money to the company's bank account. In this case, when the guardians make the payment on the school's website, ShurjoPay wires it to the school's bank account.
Fida Haq, MD and CEO of ShurjoMukhi Limited (written as shurjoMukhi), used the following example to explain the process: "Let us say that I sell goods online. I want the payment to be made online. But if I only accept a Visa card and yours is a Mastercard, you will not be able to pay. Similarly, considering Mobile financial services (MFS), if I want the payment to be only made through BKash, you cannot pay me using other platforms." ShurjoPay resolves that problem.
Md Rasel Kabir, lecturer and head of the ICT Department at BISC said, "We have been using ShurjoPay for a while now, and I must say that the overall experience has been outstanding."
"As there was no online payment gateway in our country at the time, I saw that it was causing a lot of trouble for those who were trying to set up online businesses. That's why I decided to build ShurjoPay. Eventually, I was approached by an investor, and we set up ShurjoMukhi Limited and then introduced this service," said Fida.
For a one-time price of Tk10,000, a client can purchase ShurjoPay's service. This price has been lessened by 50 percent during the pandemic. And for educational institutions, it has always been free.
However, in comparison to 2010, the landscape of e-commerce and the volume of online payment gateways in Bangladesh has changed a great deal, particularly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. ShurjoPay is no longer alone in this market.
What sets ShurjoPay apart from the crowd
But speaking about what makes ShurjoPay unique among its competitors in the market, Fida said, "It is the commitment of everyone involved in our team to ensure that the e-merchants get the best service that is available in the market on a 24/7 basis."
"Moreover, we have brought the Equated Monthly Installment (EMI) facility online for e-merchants. So, merchants' buyers can now purchase high-value products using EMI through ShurjoPay. Also, our merchant payouts are regular and frequent. So, merchants who require their sales amount to be cleared daily receive it without delay," he continued.
He further added, "We also send invoices to buyers on behalf of merchants. That is how we strive to provide an experience worth its while to merchants and their buyers so that they will return to do business and shop online using online payment gateways."
ShurjoPay have also created an easy-to-use yet robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system within the organisation to handle any complaints about the services they provide.
Additionally, they give the person who comes to them with a complaint a turnaround time (TAT), which is the estimated time it will take them to get back to them with a possible solution.
Their focus on the education sector has also remained unflinching over the years as a result of which they have been able to secure special education sector rates from all major cards and MFS.
The company's long-term strategy is to endeavour towards adding new and innovative fintech products and platforms to ShurjoMukhi and help transform Bangladesh into a cashless society.
"To this end, we are working on building proper infrastructure for Bangla-QR based payment for brick-and-mortar merchants at the moment. We will introduce some fabulous products and platforms regarding this very soon," said Fida.
Data as collateral for small ticket size online lendings and repayments is another area that they are keen to work on. Fida said, "We believe a fintech like ours can lead the way in effective collateralisation of data that can revolutionise the lending landscape for microfinance institutions and other lenders alike."
Another area of interest for ShurjoMukhi is facilitating in-app purchases within mobile apps or games to help the country's growing android game and app developer and user community. With permission from the government and the Bangladesh Bank, ShurjoPay hopes to expand its scope of work in this sector too.
Shouldering a crucial responsibility: Dissolve distrust in digital platforms
Given the recent scandals that surfaced from within several e-commerce companies, it is now more important than before for ShurjoPay's goal to work towards increasing people's trust in digital payments and e-commerce.
Fida said, "The way Ponzi-scheme-like businesses have been operating in our country in the name of e-commerce for a few years now (recently exposed) have created doubts in the minds of the general public about online businesses and transactions. We want to work with strong ethics, aided by robust technology, so that we can restore the buyers' trust with our escrow model and set a good example for other online payment gateways to follow."
He added, "We have always operated on a 'trust over profit' basis and I am very proud of the fact that we have allowed these platforms to make use of our payment gateway."
Fida believes that the time has come for the merchants of our country to become e-merchants, as paying online has become simple and commonplace for customers of various goods and services.
In this regard, Fida noted, "There is no room for complacency as we are lagging in the overall standing of Global Fintech Ecosystem Rankings. For the year 2021, Dhaka dismally ranked at 225th among 264 cities, while Bangladesh languishes at 78th among 83 countries."
However, with Bangladesh ranking 103rd out of 110 countries in the Digital Quality of Life Index 2021, the lowest ranking in the subcontinent, a lack of internet access throughout Bangladesh is still very much a massive impediment for the transition to a digital country.
Fida said, and rightly, "I travel to many corners of Bangladesh and what I have painfully noticed during my stays is the very erratic nature of internet connectivity provided by our mobile operators. As you move away from cities to towns to villages, the broadband connection is almost non-existent and the quality of mobile data connectivity sharply diminishes."
"Bangladesh ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of digital quality of life mainly due to our performance in mobile internet speed. This must be resolved as soon as possible, or else we will be unable to compete with the rest of the world in many areas, not just e-commerce," he concluded.