Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Anish Jain, CEO of Wadz, a company founded by the collaboration between experts from the payment and tech industry who have come together to deliver a smart payments engine with the objective to drive efficiencies, reduce costs, and increase adoption, while ensuring secure and hassle free payments. Anish talked about leveraging blockchain to process payments, the benefits of using artificial intelligence to help merchants and brands design targeted marketing, and the evolution of the payment ecosystem.
Asia Blockchain Review: How is Wadz promoting more financial inclusion in Asia? What about in Southeast Asia?
Anish Jain: The inherent issue in Southeast Asia has been financial access for all. This is due to several factors including the prevalence of cash, high transaction/merchant fees, barriers to entry into the financial system, geographic limitations, etc.
This leads to telcos and smartphone manufacturers trying to drive internet usage and financial inclusion. However, they have had their limitations, as they are mostly restricted to geographies or a set client base.
Learning from these experiences, Wadz is championing a hybrid ecosystem to process payments and analyze data using the reach of telcos and smartphones and leveraging blockchain and AI. Anyone with access to a smartphone can easily start making or accepting payments locally or cross-border in a matter of minutes.
Indonesia and Vietnam are ranked 6th and 13th worldwide, respectively, for smartphone penetration, with over 80 million users combined. However, only 50% of their citizens have direct access to financial services.
ABR: Can you tell us about some of the key milestones that Wadz has achieved?
AJ: Wadz was conceptualized in late 2018, and we began building the prototype in March 2019. Currently, we are testing the beta and expect to have our first version out in Indonesia for people to start using by end-Q3 to early-Q4.
We have already been able to establish various merchant partnerships in Indonesia, Hong Kong, and India and are getting a lot of positive PR & feedback from the events we have participated in. Recently, we organized the inaugural “Real Life Application of Blockchain and AI” event in June 2019 in Singapore, which was met with huge success.
We are also on track to launch our IEO (Initial Exchange Offering) around September 2019. So keep an eye out for us!
ABR: What are some of the effective inventory management strategies that you can pass on to merchants?
AJ: This is a highly confidential tool in development, and I am unable to share any specifics at this point in time. However, it is something that has not been seen before and will change inventory management dynamics.
ABR: How do smart payments engines drive efficiencies and reduce cost?
AJ: The traditional payment system is essentially a tri-party system with an organization such as Visa or Mastercard at the helm, also known as the ‘Switch’. Then, there is an ‘Acquirer’ which manages the merchants and the ‘Issuer’ which acquires customers.
Then, there are several other intermediaries that are basically payment processing companies which connect all of the above with one another. As you can imagine, this makes the existing ecosystem not only complex, but also expensive.
We at Wadz are utilizing blockchain to connect the consumer directly to the merchant, with Wadz moderating each transaction. This leads to smart data, zero fraud, faster settlements, and a flat fee of 1%.
ABR: How does Wadz use artificial intelligence to help merchants and brands design targeted marketing?
AJ: Wadz is able to connect the consumer directly with the merchants and moderate every transaction. This allows the Wadz AI functionality to analyze data on a real-time basis.
The Wadz AI function is then able to design various scenarios for merchants and brands to directly target the desired consumer segments based on seasonalities, shelf positioning, geographic location, etc.
ABR: Can you tell us about some of Wadz’s successes in driving the real-life application of blockchain and AI?
AJ: Wadz had recently organized an event in Singapore called, “Real Life Application of Blockchain and AI.” This was the first-ever such event, and the idea behind it was to educate the general public on various use cases for these new emerging technologies.
The event was a success and very well received by the audience. We plan to continue such events, not only in Singapore but also in the rest of Southeast Asia. These events will also coincide with our product launches in various markets.
ABR: How does Wadz ensure a secure payment platform? What are the challenges to achieving this goal?
AJ: The system is designed keeping in mind all potential threats. All necessary firewalls and security measures are being deployed to prevent security breaches. We are also deploying internal and external security experts to hack test the system on an ongoing basis.
Using the Wadz payment gateway, users are guaranteed enhanced security against cyber threats, leaks, and misuse of confidential data by third-parties, since our system is designed to not enable merchants to capture the customer’s payment details. This saves the customer from confidential data leaks.
ABR: With your extensive experience, how has the payment ecosystem evolved throughout the years?
AJ: Payments have come a long way from commodity-based payments to precious metals, paper cash, credit, and plastic.
Now is the time for digital payments, and Wadz is at the forefront of this revolution.
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