Published on Forge Magazine, Vol. 2, 2018 | By Tony Fearthestone
Multi-functional e-Pocket at forefront of payments innovation
Groundbreaking App uses blockchain technology for safer, more flexible transactions.
Emerging fintech star e-Pocket is set to transform the mobile-payment market through a world-first platform enabling transactions in fiat money or cryptocurrencies.
The Melbourne-based firm, an early adopter of blockchain technology, is spearheading the evolution of payment apps from single function to multi-functional systems. In doing so, e-Pocket is solving problems plaguing current mobile-payment systems.
“e-Pocket is leading a revolution in fintech apps,” says company founder and CEO Tapha Faye. “We have reimagined what a mobile-payment app can do and how it can create value for consumers and business. We believe in giving users greater control over their money by enabling avoidance of costly, restrictive bank-payment systems.”
Two years in the making, e-Pocket had an overwhelming response from users and merchants in its testing phase. More than 25,000 users and hundreds of merchants have pre-registered their interest. The App goes live in the third quarter of 2018.
The company is targeting 500,000 users and thousands of merchants in its ecosystem within 12 months through an extensive marketing campaign and referral program. An e-Pocket launch in the United Kingdom and Africa in 2019 is targeted.
“Everybody who has used e-Pocket has raved about it,” says Faye. “Individuals and merchants can see it has a far more functionality than competing Apps that tend to do one thing. They like that we have developed a multi-functional payment App that gives users and companies greater transaction flexibility.”
e-Pocket allows users to store fiat money or cryptocurrencies in an e-wallet and transfer or exchange funds with others in its community. Users can pay bills by scanning a company’s QR code, a machine-readable code consisting of black and white squares. Product receipts are automatically generated and stored online.
Users can also buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum within the e-Pocket ecosystem and have the cash equivalent instantly loaded to their e-wallet.
Major advance for business
Companies registered with e-Pocket can accept payment from users through their stored bank/credit card, fiat money or cryptocurrency. There are no set-up costs or payment terminals required and the merchant transaction fee is a low, flat rate.
Unlike point-of-sale terminals, e-Pocket does not need an internet connection to receive payments (it uses mobile phone networks), making it a valuable back-up to other payment terminals. Issuing invoices online saves companies money and aids their refund policies by providing better verification of purchases than easily lost printed receipts.
e-Pocket is leveraging its community to help business users. Merchants can advertise to users through geotagging, time or push-notification techniques. An e-Pocket user can identify a merchant within the community and support it.
Event organisers can use e-Pocket as a ticketing portal. Users, for example, could use their e-Pocket wallet to pay for tickets with fiat money or a cryptocurrency.
“e-Pocket is a game changer for business,” say Faye. “A small business no longer has to be hostage to an EFTPOS terminal and its high fees and set-up costs. Or rely on bank mobile-payment Apps that are just another way to deliver existing banking services.”
A user could, for example, buy shoes from a registered e-Pocket merchant via the App. The user might pay with fiat money or a cryptocurrency and the shop assistant could receive payment via a store mobile device, saving time and money.
Faye says fintech Apps such as e-Pocket will take cryptocurrencies mainstream. “We’ve made it possible for users to buy products or services with Bitcoin or Ethereum as they would with cash. This is the future, particularly with younger consumers.”
Solving a worldwide problem
e-Pocket’s genesis came when Faye visited Senegal, his home country. He noticed delays and other complications when withdrawing or depositing money in banks. Transferring money to or from Senegal was challenging at times.
“Merchants in Senegal and other developing nations across Africa cannot afford to install electronic-payment systems,” says Faye. “And most people there don’t have credit or debit cards. What Senegal does have is high, rising mobile-phone penetration. I saw an opportunity to help people in Senegal transact with each other and merchants via mobile-phone networks.”
Faye, an Australian resident for 11 years, soon realised his innovation had applications in advanced and developing nations. “The big breakthrough was blockchain technology that allowed users to store their e-wallet on a decentralised blockchain, rather than e-Pocket having to hold user funds digitally. Blockchain will radically transform the global payment markets.”
Security risks such phone loss, malware attacks and cyber theft have hindered the mass adoption of mobile-payment apps. Blockchain is considered more secure than traditional record-keeping systems because transactions are agreed on before being recorded, encrypted and stored on a network of computers rather than a single server.
e-Pocket is also more secure than Pay Pass (a tap-and-go payment process), or near-field communication that enables two devices near each other, such as a smartphone and payment terminal to communicate. By scanning company QR codes, e-Pocket provides another layer of security (only its technology can link the code to the e-Pocket user).
Faye’s next goal was product functionality. He believed most payment apps were too simplistic: they enabled payment by fiat money or cryptocurrency, but not both. He wanted e-Pocket to be the first payment app that seamlessly combined traditional and digital currencies and enabled users to swap between them for payment.
Faye also wanted to help businesses benefit from the e-Pocket ecosystem through online advertising and tailored marketing. “We want the e-Pocket community to work together and share in the benefits of transacting outside of traditional banking systems.”
The App is free to individuals and businesses pay a small transaction fee. “We’ve been able to remove layers of fees and set-up costs compared to banking-payment systems, and let businesses do things possible for the first time,” says Faye. “A one-person firm in remote Australia could use e-Pocket to accept payments from anywhere around the globe, at any time, in fiat money or cryptocurrency. All that’s needed is phone coverage.”
Faye believes fintech innovation can help more people in developing nations emerge from poverty. “The lack of a robust banking system and payment platform stifles growth by making it harder for individuals and businesses in emerging markets to transact, beyond using cash. e-Pocket can change that; it’s an innovation with a strong social purpose.”
To learn more about e-Pocket, visit www.e-pocket.com.au
By Tony Fearthestone