‘Business communities can be nurtured through having innovative tools’

We feel lucky. As a startup is a year or two before a global pandemic, we have the opportunity to bring that idea to a market and make it thrive. This is especially challenging in Malta where, for all its wonderful quirks and appeal, contact without payments has not been met with enthusiasm and most people are still very happy paying!

But then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and along with being devastatingly difficult for humanity, it also became a pressure cooker for innovation, especially around how we exchange and manage money. Solutions had to be simultaneously more efficient and more flexible. And it so happens that flexibility and efficiency are our raison d’être at wamo. In short, the time was, and is, right for us.

More than anything we want to make life easier for small business owners. Really, it’s that simple. And what’s frustrating when you look around is the disconnect you can see in terms of innovation for small businesses, sole traders and start-ups on a budget. There’s incredibly smart tech and yet the smart solutions aren’t where they could or should be. While we are truly championing the entrepreneurial spirit, in reality we do not put our money where our mouths are. Traditional banks have been able to respond to customer demand and have many innovative features for consumers, but hardly any at all for businesses. They are simply too antiquated and cumbersome to adapt and embrace the needs and expectations of modern small business owners.

We understand the problems that small businesses face very clearly: 1) it is much harder than it should be to open a business bank account (sometimes it’s not even possible); 2) it is justifiably tricky and expensive to take payments (the lifeblood of any business); 3) it is a daily frustration to have to jump from one app / platform / account or site to another to run a business digitally and, lastly, everything costs too much and takes too long.

Four years ago, we have focused on all these problems and today we have focused even beyond how to start looking at how we can solve problems in particular sectors of business (more on this later). This is the reason we always ask our customers for their feedback, whether it is positive or negative, because it is not just the tech that must be agile, we are committed to growing and adapting to strong customer relationships.

So, knowing what the main problems are and listening carefully to our customers, we have built a solution with the clear aim of doing business banking encouraging and hassle-free for small business owners, sole traders, freelancers and others.

Firstly, we have opened a business account as easy as opening a personal account. As the business owner, you download the app, show your identity by scanning a document and speak a sentence into your phone camera, and we do the rest. Now you have a business account that’s just for a bank account – in about 10 minutes! Which really is how it should be. Completely secure, completely professional, no advantage of a traditional bank lost at all. Only gains.

A solution with the clear aim of making business banking encouraging

Second problem, the huge hassle and unnecessary expense around taking payments. Given how far we have come in fintech innovation, payments should be simple and yet take up payments for small businesses and sole traders especially. So we completely embraced the potential of QR code tech – ubiquitous in China for a reason… that it works! – making it possible for anyone to take their payment with a QR code whether it is on their phone or physically on a sticker or lump of wood or literally whatever works. What we know is that customers do not want to download, sign up or use your payment system – fair enough, we think. With wamo, your customer scans your QR with their phone, their wallet opens and they enter an amount to pay. Done.

But more than QR, it’s got multiple payment options that’s important, you never want to turn a customer away because you can’t accept their payment method. So, with wamo you can also send payments to request payments, your customers can make transfers to your wamo account in the usual way of course, and if it’s a wamo-to- wamo payment then that’s easy as peer2peer and you simply search your contacts and request an amount.

The next major hassle small businesses face is ‘app-juggling’ in order to get organized, efficient and digital – small business owners have , payments from customers, B2B payments, accounting, managing team finances and more. Even if some of these platforms integrate with others, it gets time-consuming fast. Our overarching aim with wamo was to create a single space for busy business owners. We have created sub-accounts that can be used by a project or person. wamo reports does what it says on the tin – you can request a full account or huge number of accounts, hugely reducing the amount of time spent on paper-chasing and number crunching. And the team management aspect of our platform is something our clients really love – it’s empowering to set employees up with their own accounts, spending limits and cards and yet the owner has no way of missing anything because it’s all there on your dashboard. You can also decide who sees what by allocating roles.

In terms of costs we always want to be transparent and more than fair. We believe the best subscription model for everyone and ours is very simple and affordable. If you are a sole trader or freelancer, you have no subscription charge at all – you get your business account free.

We believe that B2B financial management can and should feel more P2P, that business communities can be nurtured by having innovative tools that create connection, ease and efficiency rather than impose obstacles in the way and spanners in the works. That’s our dream, and we’re sticking to it.

Yanki Onen, co-founder and CEO at wamo.io

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