How We Developed A $1.5M/Month Online Payment Gateaway

Published: May 10th, 2021
Fida haq
Founder, shurjoPay
from Dhaka, Bangladesh
started August 2010
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! This is Fida Haq and I am the MD and CEO of shurjoPay since its inception in 2010.

shurjoPay, the Online Payment Gateway owned and operated by shurjoMukhi Limited, is one of a few Payment Systems Operators (PSO) licensed by Bangladesh Bank since January 2016 and it’s used by hundreds of e-merchants and educational institutions.

Under my leadership, shurjoPay has been instrumental in establishing the e-Commerce ecosystem in Bangladesh and has built itself as the flagship service of shurjoMukhi Limited. The vast majority of MSMEs in Bangladesh didn't have access to receiving payments from their customers via cards, mobile wallets, or any other online payment instrument. Our technology has provided a definitive solution to that problem.

During Q1 of 2021, shurjoPay is averaging a transactional volume of USD 1.5M per month with the total number of merchants exceeding 600. We believe shurjoPay's impact in bringing about a change in the country’s online payment collection system has been transformational.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Back in 2009 in Dhaka, I was managing an ATM network and switch shared by a few major banks of Bangladesh. But in absence of Paypal or any other payment gateway in those times, the e-Commerce sector in Bangladesh was facing a lot of trouble to start its journey - let alone flourish.

I’ve learned that maintaining good relationships with the stakeholders is one of the keys to success.

Also, an ATM network is no solution for merchants to become e-merchants and start receiving payments online. That’s when the idea of facilitating the payment collection through an online payment gateway as a merchant service provider came to my mind.

My overseas experience in this regard where MSPs were already taken for granted for a long time also played a vital role in the ideation phase of shurjoMukhi. I thought that without waiting for the big names to come to town, why don't we set up an online payment gateway with our own technology and help build the e-Commerce ecosystem of the country that everyone takes for granted these days. Thus, shurjoPay - the online payment gateway that's owned and operated by shurjoMukhi - was born.

Like any other emerging economy with a promising track record, Bangladesh’s e-Commerce sector had the potential to experience remarkable growth with its rising GDP. And shurjoPay started its journey in the industry with the surmise that e-Commerce sector growth would exceed all expectations and have a drastic impact on Bangladesh's economy.

As e-Commerce involves buying and selling goods and services by merchants and consumers through a digital medium, the online payment process seemed to be promising to take it to the next level. Over the past years, through persistence and technological finesse, shurjoPay has been able to build an entrenched position in the industry.

We have firmly established the company as a FinTech (Financial Technology) outfit with its e-Payment Gateway named shurjoPay that is used by hundreds of e-merchants and educational institutes including large enterprises like the Bangladesh Ansar and VDP.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The first thing we did while designing the online payment gateway is we talked to the banks and found out which of them have the e-modules to their financial switches. We realized that it would take us a while to bring banks, NBFIs, and MFSs on board. Hence, we designed the payment gateway such that it can integrate with any bank or MFS in Bangladesh as they come on board on a gradual basis.

After that, we built the prototype with a few technically advanced banks in Bangladesh. On the merchant side, our first client was Teletalk, the incumbent telco, with whom we established a system of online top-up of their airtime.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Initially, it was beta launched by onboarding some prominent merchants, such as the Bangladesh Institute of Management - (BIM), Balaka Cineworld to sell their tickets online (News link) and of course Teletalk, the only state-owned mobile phone operator in Bangladesh (News link).

This first move of shurjoPay grabbed the attention of a huge audience as it was the first of its kind in Bangladesh. It was grandly inaugurated at a local five-star hotel inviting ministers and other dignitaries in 2012.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Starting from offline promotions that include, attending events, fairs, sponsorships, exhibitions, Billboard ads, vehicle branding to ATL activities, such as screen pop-ups, radio ads, TV interviews, we tried it all!

Strategic partnerships with renowned companies with revenue-sharing models have surely given an extra kick to it helping shurjoPay climb up the ladder of success.

Now, of course, like any other emerging company, shurjoPay has also devoted itself to Online/Digital Marketing. After all, it’s the best way of reaching an enormous audience without spending many pennies from our pockets.

At shurjoPay, we try our best to promote the company in every possible way to maximize our potential- Facebook ads, Google ads. Newsletters, social media campaigns, SEO, partnerships, and what not? We still believe we’ve got more to do to attract and retain more e-merchants throughout Bangladesh.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Now, shurjoPay is solving the very existential issue of e-merchants receiving payments online from all the country’s major payment instruments over the last few years by onboarding 50+ merchants a month!

As we will soon be launching many more features such as QR-based payment collection, payment links for business owners without websites, and so on; I believe, by Q4 of 2021, shurjoPay will reach a transactional volume of USD 5 million per month.

During the onslaught and spread of COVID-19 in 2020, shurjoPay has surely played a crucial role in enabling a lot of e-merchants and institutional service providers.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Have you ever realized that being in business means that we are part of a community? From back when shurjoPay started its journey to now, I’ve always tried to maintain great relationships with people at every step along my path to success. This includes the investors, the industry peers, the vendors and not to mention, our clients! I’ve learned that maintaining good relationships with the stakeholders is one of the keys to success.

It would be a lie if I said that I’ve never made a mistake or made any poor decisions along the path, but turned out, all these mistakes were eventually advantageous for our continued success because we always learn from our mistakes.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Skype is the tool we use at shurjoPay every day to communicate with the team members, partners, onboarded merchants, and potential clients.

To optimize my company's performance through virtual and collaborative work in real-time, we rely on Google Workspace extensively!

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The book that has influenced me to some extent is Zero to One by Peter Thiel. It’s a business book that offers a completely refreshing scheme of ideas on how anyone can create value in this world!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

If you think, you are someone who has a vision for something great and of course, the desire and motivation to create it; keep your vision clear and form a team that shares your vision. Remember that every action you take for your company must relate to your vision.

And it is needless to say, no one in this world succeeds in business alone! You need to build your own fabulous team for bolstering your company’s success. Keep in mind that employees always have some valuable insights to offer and need to be encouraged to share them with others at the company. That’s how you let your business grow!

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Yes, we are highly interested in hiring people who are self-motivated for filling out different positions in our company.

We require them to be what is termed as “triple threats” at shurjoPay: they need to do their work, they need to communicate with their teammates and work, they need to communicate with their clients and work. If we think that someone is capable of ticking all these boxes, then voila! S/he is cordially invited to join our company!

Where can we go to learn more?