Simoun is the President & CEO of OmniPay, Inc., the Philippine’s leading issuer of prepaid payment cards and innovator for financial inclusion. We met Simoun during the event Cards & Payments in Singapore last April. He shares with Innovation Is Everywhere how OmniPay has become a major player in the Filipino payment scene by building successful partnerships.
He is also Vice Chairman of Bastion Payment Systems Corporation, which developed and launched the first proprietary payment gateway in the Philippines certified to Payment Card Industry standards. Simoun currently serves on the Board of Directors of Transpacific Broadband Group International, Inc. [PSE: TBGI].
Innovation is Everywhere (“IIEV”): Hello Simoun, nice to meet you, could you share with us how OmniPay has grown as a player in the Filipino payment scene?
Simoun Ung: We have mainly focused on delivering quality behind the scenes. If you look at our cards, the OmniPay logo is quite discreet and hardly noticeable to its users. Rather, we emphasize the branding and image of our co-brand partners. This has enabled us to scale faster and puts us ahead of our competitors.
We have also adopted a prudent approach to the payment scene by focusing on the 70% of the Philippines that is unbanked, which is more than the 30% who use banks or the privileged 2% who have access to credit cards. We are able to reach these segments of society by supporting our co-brand partners and by building a strong agent network to enable cash-in and cash-out by our cardholders in areas without bank branches or ATMs.
IEV: How has the experience of private-public partnerships been like for Omnipay?
Simoun Ung: I think that we have had good partnerships with the government as the interests have been aligned and we are aware of what each player brings to the table. Our experience with the city of Bacoor comes to mind, where residents of Bacoor use the card as identification and proof of residency. The card also serves as a prepaid reloadable cash card which has facilitated payment convenience across various industries such as medication payment.
IEV: How does Omnipay structure its payment systems with partners? Could you share more?
Simoun Ung: Omnipay has focused heavily on integration with our partners to provide a customer-centric product.
Our core focus is on collaboration, hence, our preference for a revenue-sharing structure to foster a win-win situation between us and our clients. This is unlike the pre-paid system that most global banks offer which is a one-size fit all model that compels businesses to adopt its strategies to the card system instead of the other way around.
Our latest card, the Mabuhay Miles Travel Card for Philippine Airlines, is demonstrative of our advances as the pre-paid card has 10 different currencies in addition to the airline’s frequent flyer miles. Like traditional airline affinity credit cards, a Mabuhay Miles cardholder earns miles while spending money with the card; however, miles earned using the card can also be spent at the partner establishments of Philippine Airlines.
IEV: What do you think about payment systems such as the Hong Kong transport card system which can be used to pay for a variety of services in addition to public transport?
Simoun Ung: We’re currently working on a similar project with one of the capital cities in the region where we reduce the challenge for adoption by offering an integrated solution that would allow merchants to also benefit. However, some key challenges still exist, such as the speed in which the transaction can be effected in a mass transit application; we may combine a stored value wallet in the prepaid card or work with one of the global card brands to effect a pre-authorization message to block out a certain portion of funds at entry paired with a purchase transaction at exit to actually deduct the funds from the host.
IEV: Any big plans for OmniPay beyond the Philippines?
Simoun Ung: At present the market potential here in the Philippines is still tremendous, but we are also exploring opportunities to get involved with Indonesia. The country has similar socioeconomic demographics to the Philippines but on a larger scale, as well as similar archipelagic geography.