Novatti cashes in on cashless payments

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Melbourne-based fintech Novatti Group Ltd is at the forefront of a global revolution in payments technologies that is transforming the way consumers access financial services, and helping to drive a new wave of economic activity in emerging markets.

CEO Peter Cook says Novatti’s services are used around the world.

“We build solutions for new cashless types of payments, enabling millions of consumers in many countries without traditional banking services to access digital financial services to save, borrow, shop and pay bills online,’’ says Cook.

“What we do is very complicated technically, but essentially we provide a link between consumers on one hand, and financial institutions, retailers, utilities, government agencies and telecommunications companies on the other.’’

The cashless payments industry market is growing rapidly, and ASX-listed Novatti’s turnover grew 58 per cent in the last financial year. A study by Juniper Research found the annual value of online, mobile and contactless payments reached an estimated US$3.6 trillion in 2016, up 20 per cent from 2015.

China deal

Novatti made headlines last year when it signed a deal to support mobile wallet transactions for Chinese consumers in Australia.

Many Chinese tourists have difficulty using credit cards here as they are not on the global payment networks, but thanks to Novatti they can now make e-payments here using the massively popular Wechat, JD Pay and AliPay mobile wallets.

The number of active WeChat users has surpassed 800 million, while Alipay has 450 million registered users.

“We facilitate the distribution of funds to retailers through these systems while dealing with issues such as compliance and licensing,’’ says Cook.

Powering empowerment

By bringing mobile payments to the masses, Novatti is also helping to empower disadvantaged consumers in emerging markets such as Tanzania.

In many countries across Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, there are now more mobile money accounts than bank accounts. Novatti’s mobile-based technologies and networks allow many of these consumers to transact for the first time in similar ways to people with traditional bank accounts.

“It’s all about financial inclusion – empowering consumers who don’t have access to a traditional financial institution,’’ says Cook.

“For example, the average person in Africa doesn’t have a bank account, but now they can have a mobile money account.  When they need to pay an electricity bill, with no cheque account or credit card they would have to go line up for half a day to pay cash.  

“With a mobile money account that enables them to pay over the phone, that person is now included in the modern economy.’’

Home base

Cook says Melbourne is a great base for a tech firm such as Novatti.  In the past, the company has received considerable support from the Victorian Government, with their investment offices in Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and San Francisco assisting to access overseas markets.

Novatti currently employs 35 people in Melbourne, with additional sales staff based overseas.  Cook says while Australia’s universities are not yet producing enough very high-calibre tech experts of the type Novatti needs to employ, they are not difficult to find in Melbourne thanks to the city’s dynamic immigrant population.

“Our team includes 20 who have emigrated from Russia, India, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Greece, Iran and New Zealand,’’ says Cook.  “I’d say 75 per cent of my staff moved to Australia in the past 10 years.’’

With a cosmopolitan team to match its multinational client base, Novatti is a reflection of the rapidly integrating global economy it is helping to digitise.