Meet CityPay: the payment gateway platform that allows businesses to accept crypto payments.
Today it is our pleasure to unveil the 7th startup (out of 11 selected so far) from the StartupYard Remote Lab program. CityPay is transforming the way people make payments to make them faster, more secure and cheaper. We sat down with Eralf Hatipoglu, co-founder of Citypay to talk more about what they do and their plans for the future.
Hi Eralp, tell us a bit about your personal journey towards founding CityPay. How did you get here?
We have up to 5 years experience in blockchain and crypto technologies and back in 2017 we already had our own company in this field. Beka Kemertelidze, Citypay 2nd co-founder, and I have been crypto enthusiasts since the beginning.
Slowly our enthusiastic approach towards crypto became a lifestyle and we were already part of the large community of crypto interested people. One day, one of our customers asked if he could pay us with cryptocurrency, so we started to think about it as a necessity. After several months of hard work and sleepless nights we had our platform ready.
What prompted you to start developing Citypay? What did you see as fundamentally wrong with the way payment works right now?
Before CityPay.io we have had several businesses together. Right then we, as a regular company, faced the problem of receiving international transfers with high costs and time delays. For SME companies there is always the problem of setting up international payment channels that cost time, money and include many steps of bureaucracy, payments delays and long verification procedures.
For large companies the main problem is that the whole information about their customer payments are being shared to the third parties, in our case – safe, secured, fast and confidential international payments are provided to any size and any type of business.
As we are crypto enthusiasts by ourselves with huge experience in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, we always are eager to pay with crypto. So, we decided to expand the opportunity to every company to be able to receive international payments in crypto or into their desired fiat currency.
You are not the first startup to try solving this problem and there are already available proven solutions. Why should a company look at Citypay?
First of all we operate in markets where we are the first cryptocurrency payment solution in the region and compared to traditional ways of receiving global payments our service is 5 times cheaper, much easier to set up for your company, faster and way more secure.
Our uniqueness on the global market also is to provide payments in national currencies, which gives business owners comfort not to dig in the cryptocurrency world if they are new – we convert all the payments to their desired fiat.
In addition, we as a small company are more dedicated to each of our clients and one of our main values is to maintain this attitude while we grow.
How big is the team and why are they a good match for this project?
The founders of the startup are Beka Kemertelidze and myself, Eralf Hatipoglu. After launching the beta version of the platform, Mariam Meladze joined the management team – Business Development, Keti Karseladze – Marketing and Communications, and Tamta Davitashvili joined as the product development manager. All of them have more than 7 years of working on digital products, startups or payment systems and each of them give the company their unique value. The company currently employs a total of about 15 people who together create CityPay.io. In addition, we are actively adding staff in different departments and plan to expand in the near future.
What got you interested in working on blockchain and cryptocurrencies?
The high potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain was inevitable since the very first years. We were able to see the potential and it actually worked. The most challenging part was the first steps of exploring the blockchain and cryptocurrency world. After many judgements and doubts that we were surrounded by, we managed to create a product that is believed and accepted by others and this is the main reason why we never stop.
What do you think is the biggest problem right now in the ecommerce market, and how does Citypay help solve that issue?
The E-commerce market has increased dramatically during this pandemic period and people get used to shopping online more and more. It’s most important for e-commerces to offer a superior customer journey to their customers and the biggest part of it is the payment part that finalizes the purchase process. We created an on site payment method that needs only scanning the QR code and payment is done! So e-commerce businesses will have very easy, high technology crypto payment that increases their sales and provides a variety of payments on a website.
Let’s talk more about your products. What would you say distinguishes you from other online payment solutions? What is your “killer app?”
The main distinguisher, I would say, is that we provide the most flexible and diverse product that suits any type of business. We give flexibility to businesses to receive crypto payment from their customers from any customer wallet, from anywhere in the world. We are suited to e-commerce and online platforms with API or plugin integration, to online service providers with email invoicing systems, to physical shops and selling points with our own APP for QR payments.
Can you tell us a bit more about how your technology really works? How unique is your solution?
Our technology is created to make the payment process as easy as possible for both – businesses and customers.
For businesses we have created a super easy order generation form that enables them to receive orders in seconds and in case of online shop integration it is generated automatically. Also we took care of the conversion rate – to be the best market rate by integrating several crypto markets in our system.
For their customers we made an on-site payment method which is the easiest method to pay with just a scanning QR code that is generated for their individual use. For 60 seconds the conversion rate is frozen and the customer has full information about what amount of crypto they pay.
It sounds like any industry could use a solution like yours. How much of a problem is that for a small start-up? Are you able to focus on one segment or are you serving anyone who comes through your door?
Yes it really was a problem for us to make clear segmentation of our customers, because our product can be used by any type, size and field companies. But it is really important to make direct communication with your exact segment who can give you a strong painkiller. So we started to break down industries and then geographical locations. Our main customers to whom we give a ready solution are the ones who receive international small payments frequently and the ones whose customers need to maintain confidentiality.
What have been your team’s biggest personal or professional challenges in making this project a reality?
The main challenge I think is the market readiness and the field we are operating in. For a large number of people crypto payments still remain under the question mark so in parallel with our awareness we also need to take care of educating our potential clients.
Who is the ideal customer for Citypay?
Ideal customer for CityPay is the business that receives small payments with clients from all around the world and wants to avoid high transaction fees, such as: domain, hosting, web services. Second, businesses that need payments with confidentiality and higher security such as online entertainment businesses. And of course E-commerces that want to adopt new segments – crypto owners.
Is Citypay available now? What do people need to get started with your service?
The CityPay.io platform is already available for any business. A simple registration of your business on our website will be enough to start adopting crypto payments. The procedure includes company verification and validation check but we take care of it to be as fast as possible.
Why would a company use Citypay?
CityPay.io is the best solution for the businesses that:
- Want to receive payments from around the world
- Increase sales by adopting one of the fastest growing crypto owners segment
- Become independent from financial institutions by adopting decentralized payments
How many clients do you have today and in which countries are you seeing the biggest interest?
Currently we serve up to 300 clients and our future plan includes to penetrate markets with high opportunities in crypto. There has already started a tendency of discussions about accepting crypto as a payment method and El Salvador is the first country that did it last week.
Talk a bit about your experience with StartupYard. What were the surprises, challenges, highs and lows?
Applying for StartupYard was a well-thought-out decision and we knew what we should expect – the main expected outcome for us was to start transforming our startup into a company, to formulate our ideas in strategy. Starting the accelerator program turned out to be more challenging than we could have imagined. Several mentorship sessions per day was a really huge job for us, first – receiving so much knowledge and shared experiences from field professionals, second – transforming this knowledge into decisions for our startup and fit to our case. We have received very important experience in the project and we already have a much more clear view forward for the future.