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We Talk Mobile Payments With Canadian Startup Payfirma

Payfirma is an early adopter in the mobile payment space. This Vancouver based startup is credited with being the first company to bring mobile payments to Canada.

Mobile payments are the way of the future, and for many the future is now. In the US we have Square, Paypal, Google Wallet and the forthcoming ISIS available in several mobile platforms for consumers to pay for services and goods.

Like others, Payfirma makes it extremely easy for merchants to take payments from customers in a variety of ways. Payfirma offers an online platform, point of sale software and a mobile app.  Payfirma started out in 2011 and quickly became an industry leader in mobile payments. Back in December of last year they had passed the $1 million dollar per day transaction mark, and were already being called the “Square of Canada”.

The company was also named Canada’s best startup in 2011 at the KPMG startup awards. Payfirma has built a US presence as well, opening offices in Chicago and San Francisco.

On the mobile side Payfirma looks a lot like Square or Intuit’s mobile offering with a card swiping dongle that attaches to the top of an iPhone or Blackberry. Information is read from the dongle and transmitted via the smartphone to give merchants the ability to take credit card payments on the go.

Merchants who vend at swap meets, flea markets, craft fairs and other events were often faced with a tough choice. They could either choose not to accept credit cards at all or take them the old fashioned way by hand, for processing later. Processing credit cards by hand and then running them later can easily result in fraudulent sales.

We got a chance to talk with the team behind the award winning Payfirma platform. Check out the interview below:

What is Payfirma?

We help businesses accept payments in their stores and offices, online, and on their mobile devices. Payfirma provides next generation point of sale software, hardware, and payment processing for businesses. We make payments simple and do it with a human touch that personalizes the complicated payment processing industry. We are most recognized for being the first company to bring mobile payments to Canada.

In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)

Once we set up you up with a Payfirma account, you download the free mobile app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, and start taking payments. You can sell, refund and pre-authorize credit card payments, have your customers sign right on the screen, email customers their receipts. Each transaction is tagged with its location so you can seewhere they took place. Money is then deposited into your bank account. It’s technology that anybody can use.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Payfirma was co-founded by CEO Michael Gokturk and COO Sunan Spriggs in January 2011. Prior to Payfirma, Michael founded VersaPay, a payment processor in Canada that was named Canada’s Hottest Startup in 2009 and took the #1 rank on the Hot 50 list for 2-year revenue growth. Sunan also came from Versapay as their National Operations Manager.

Where are you based?

Payfirma’s head office is in Vancouver, BC with additional locations in Toronto, San Francisco and Chicago.

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?

Vancouver has been referred to as Silicon Valley North as the startup community here is bustling. There is a strong entrepreneurial pulse anddrive toward small business in Vancouver with numerous organizations such as GrowLabs, aimed at helping small businesses get started and get funding.

How did you come up with the idea for Payfirma?

We saw a tremendous market for mobile businesses that did not accept credit cards and didn’t want to invest in expensive wireless terminals. There were also weaknesses in traditional retail environments where the point of sale systems were very expensive to purchase, maintain and train. Payfirma solved these two major problems by developing simple, cloud-based payment systems that allowed any business of any size to easily set up and use.

How did you come up with the name?

The word “firma” means solid, secure and stable. Our brand was developed to convey a safe, solid and secure payment environment and experience.

What problem does Payfirma solve?

Businesses find payments expensive, bulky and confusing. Payfirma is fixing that. Through Payfirma’s payment systems, we also want to help businesses engage their customers in new ways: allow people to pay anywhere…no longer tethered to a checkout counter, and allow businesses to engage their customers…email receipts with personalized notes and offers.

What’s your secret sauce?

Our secret sauce is our cloud payment platform. It is the hub for all mobile, eCommerce, and in-store payments. It processes all payments, aggregates data, and allows businesses to get insight into how to increase revenue.

Are you bootstrapped or funded?

Payfirma was seed funded by the founding team and directors. Our investors include some of the top acquirers in the US and Canada, and angel investors, partners and even our customers.

What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?

We have been growing and generating revenue since month one amidst intense regulation and oversight.

Who are some of your mentors and business role models?

We have tremendous admiration and respect for companies like SquareUp, Apple, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase. Ourpersonal business mentors are visionary leaders like the late Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Sir Richard Branson, John Rante (Payfirma director), Lance Tracey (Payfirma director) and Sam Jawad of Chase Paymentech.

What’s next for Payfirma?

The possibilities are endless! Right now, we’re working on improvements to our in-store solutions suite that will completely change the customer retail checkout experience.

Linkage:

Check out Payfirma here

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  • Gerry Xiou

    I love these guys:) I have had an account with Payfirma for almost a year and they have the best app out there, and trust me I’ve tried them all. Their staff is also really cool