The world was slowly going digital, and mobile payment was becoming part of people’s lifestyle.
In contrast, Nepal seemed to remain untouched by the emerging technological development. There was no policy in place. Though we planned to start a mobile-payment platform around at 2010, we could not start the project as there was no clear policy for online payments in Nepal. Added to this, we were not sure if online payment can run well in Nepal, or if it’s too early for the market. The technology was just emerging and smartphones were just coming. Thus, we decided to put the idea on hold.
Team Janaki Technology
started to work towards our flagship service, Sparrow SMS
, even with much vigor. The PicoVico
idea emerged around the same time. On 1 August 2014, we started research and development on financial technology and starting an online payment gateway in Nepal. We went to India, USA, and Chile where we got to witness the FinTech ecosystem more closely. In India and China, PayTM and Alipay were doing quite well. People had stopped to go to shops to buy recharge cards. They had stopped going to the railway station to buy train tickets. Instead, they would carry out such works online. The method of payment was slowly changing in India, and it was getting more interesting seeing the market there. We were also closely following how Alipay was rapidly expanding all over China.
Developing EASY SIM
Around the beginning of 2015, we took dealership of Nepal Telecom SIM cards. The dealership was about supplying SIM cards to dealers in Kathmandu valley and activating the SIM.
That time, our dealers also used to ask us if it was possible to have mobile recharge services in an easier way. We then thought of developing EASY SIM
, a B2B system to provide NTC SIM card dealers with online recharge services. Around the same time, demonetization happened in India and PayTM and other payment service providers saw an accelerating growth. Nepal Rastra Bank too brought the first draft of policy on online payment system. Similar multiple things that happened around the time pushed us to start a digital wallet, and later a payment gateway at large.
EASY SIM => Khalti: A Transformation
Though we were quite occupied with Sparrow SMS and Picovico as both were on expansion phase, we knew that consumer base of these two products overlaps with the to be launched digital wallet service. As we were already working with Telecos, ISPs, Banks, and various other organizations in Nepal for SMS, and the user segment was overlapped, we were tempted to introduce a digital payment system in Nepal.
Though payment industry was taking a huge leap across the world, digital payment ecosystem was yet to see sunshine in Nepal. Though big players were already in the market with a wonderful brand reputation, the potential market was unexplored. And, we felt it was high time to bring disruption in the payment industry.
There was almost no substantial growth of digital payment in Nepal at a time when our neighboring countries, China and India, were taking a huge leap in the payment gateway. Through Khalti, we tried to understand the pain point of users and solve them. We were sure, people will use our products if they find it good and helpful.
Almost none in Nepal had imagined that they could pay for a cup of tea with from their mobile phone. And, here we are, striving to bring this dream into reality.
Working towards transformation
We had found the NRB’s policy vague and lengthy at first, but the officials there were very supportive. I myself had come taking an extensive training about Certified Payment Card Industry Security Implementer (CPISI) from abroad. We had already known what we needed to know before finally working on the development of a payment gateway. We had done a lot of homework before deciding to work on the project.
Then began the most challenging part, working on designing and development of the system. Our first priority was ‘best user experience’. Since digital payment is such a solution that people still fear to use, and if the user experience is not that good, people won’t use it at all. Added to this, it also needs to be fully automated. In case a transaction fails, the clients would be getting payment returned back to their account within 30 seconds. This phase of development was the most challenging of all.
We made the app adopting the latest technology in the industry and best platforms. Technology wise, we made the platform very competent. The founders themselves were directly involved in the designing and development of the architecture of Khalti. We had prepared a master plan on how to make each and every steps and functionalities in the app. The army of team worked day and night tirelessly. We had that passion to bring our dream project in the market. We built Khalti brick by brick, and step by step.
After a lot of hard work and on the ground research, we finally launched Khalti Digital Wallet on January 26, 2017.
Khalti is not just a digital wallet, it’s an entire payment ecosystem. In Khalti, you can find multiple things ranging from Scan and Pay to Person to PersonPayment to accepting Third Party Payment among other modes of payment.
Naming the company ‘Khalti’ was an interesting incidence. We wanted a traditional Nepali word which could represent Nepal. And ‘Khalti’ was such a name to which everybody was agreeing as it seems native and synonymous to wallet, where we put money. Also we didn’t want to put any prefix like ekhalti , mkhalti, hamrokhalti, merokhalti, or postfix like khaltipay, etc.
We have future plans to take khalti global and we will be proud to represent ourselves with a local Nepali word and create a stamp of the same in global arena.
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