Entrepreneur Talk: Martin Waldenström, CEO cashU

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CEO cashU
Martin Waldenstorm, CEO cashU. Photo - ArabianGazette.com

Martin Waldenström is the CEO of cashU, a payment service provider with a focus on Internet transactions in the Middle East and North Africa with head office in Dubai, UAE. Established by Maktoob (now Yahoo!) back in 2002, cashU is one of the region’s most experienced and sophisticated online payment system with a solid track record in regional and international banking, credit card processing, alternative payment solutions and online monetization and marketing industries. Arabian Gazette interviewed the chief executive officer of cashU to find out more about the robust and unique Internet payment system.

What was the main idea behind the establishment of cashU back in 2002?

cashU was launched with a mission to assist in the growth of e-commerce in the MENA region by providing a solution to a growing problem which is the cultural reluctance to use credit cards. This resulted in a very low penetration in almost all MENA countries so the idea of cashU was born in order to provide an online payment method that is available to all without any limitations and provide the region merchants with a solution where they can sell their goods and services on the net without having to pay any setup or installation fees.

What makes cashU unique from other online payment systems?

cashU is a prepaid online payment option that serves online shoppers in all Arabic-speaking and surrounding countries with secure, accessible and easy-to-use payment solutions, giving everyone the possibility to buy online without discriminating on age, income, nationality or banking contacts.

For users who are more familiar with the sterling reputation of PayPal, why would people be inclined to use CashU?

cashU’s prepaid system offers users the ability to pay online without the need of having a credit card or bank account. In addition, it encapsulates the latest and most sophisticated fraud prevention methods which allow a safer and faster e-commerce participation.

Given the fact that cashU effectively eliminates the necessity to use credit cards for online transactions, what kind of challenges is it facing from the likes of credit giants like Visa and Mastercard?

cashU doesn’t eliminate the usage of credit cards. It offers an alternative online payment method for the users that don’t have an access to credit cards or don’t wish to use them for online transactions due to security concerns.

Tell us a bit about your cashU vendors programme.

With a mission to support the growth of e-commerce in the Middle East and North Africa; cashU offers unique and interesting business opportunities to retailers wishing to sell cashU refill coupons, exchange houses who can accept over the counter payments, self service kiosk’s or POS providers who can accept cash payments, telecom companies who wish to expand their services or banks who want to achieve a competitive edge by providing their customers the most comprehensive suite of online payment options in MENA including prepaid cards, direct debits, cash payments and credit card processing.

cashU recently won the Webpreneur Academy 2011 eCommerce Service of the Year Award. What do you think was the main reason behind the recognition?

The trust cashU gained from customers (merchants, vendors and users) by being the most innovative online payment service provider in the region was the main reason we were able to clinch this prestigious award.

Debit and Credit card transactions come with their own benefits such as cash back, shopping points, 0% interest, redemption vouchers etc. Why won’t cashU offer such facilities to its customers?

Mainly, there is no interest at all or extra fees for using cashU and the registration is completely free. However, we are continuously working on introducing new services and features to our users.

Credit card transactions are protected. The only requirement is that you should claim within reasonable time. Does cashU offer anything similar to,  for example, Visa Zero Liability policy?

Payments will be kept in escrow until the Merchant has honoured his/her sales commitment. This adds comfort to the consumer to pay even if it is his/her first purchase from a Merchant.

Also, cashU has a thorough and well documented process on selecting and accepting new merchants. The process involves validating nature of business, treatment of customers and KYC validation.

US-based online payment solutions have regulatory compliance requirements to meet e.g. HIPAA, PCI, SOX, GLBA, FISMA, etc. Being based in the UAE, where there are no mature or not yet defined regulatory compliance requirements, what assurance can online payment service providers like CashU offer to its customers?

cashU is a payment platform that is built upon, and encapsulates the most sophisticated and up to date fraud prevention and AML systems reducing the risks associated with online payments for both buyers and sellers which all allows for wider, safer and faster consumer participation in e-commerce.

Why is cashU better than cash? What are the reasons? 

Many of the products being sold online are virtual, which makes cash not a possible payment option. Additionally, cash on delivery is not a popular payment option for many of the online merchants.

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