Sébastien Le Blanc: MIPS has come a long way into FinTech across borders
We have all seen an accelerated rise in the use of digital innovations in the payment domain, and contactless payment methods with Covid-19. Globally, as countries are forced to adopt this new normal, on the digital front it has created many opportunities and reduced the risk of contamination. In this context, Sébastien Le Blanc, CEO of MAFH member MIPS, shares his insights on MIPS’ journey to date and future prospects for digital payments. Sébastien has previously participated in a MAFH webinar on July 30 on the theme “Opportunities and challenges for FinTech post-COVID in Mauritius: The future of digital payments”.
MIPS (Multiple Internet Payment System), is a 100% Mauritian Fintech company, which offers entrepreneurs a range of “simple, affordable and comprehensive” online sales solutions. This new start-up, along with its partner Constance group (Belle-Mare Holding), allows local merchants to enter the e-commerce space without having to spend a single penny. MIPS is remunerated through a percentage per transaction, which remains “very competitive”.
As a technology solution that allows Mauritian merchants to receive payments on their e-commerce website without having to use a technician, the site is free and includes payment technology. The start-up has established partnerships with the MCB, the Lux Collective, CWA and many more. Excerpts:
Since MIPS launched in 2017, you have been collaborating with key market players across a number of different sectors Can you take us through the journey so far?
It has been a difficult journey but a promising one. I would like to quote Idriss Aberkane’s theory about the three stages of a revolution and that’s exactly what happen with MIPS. Your “product” is not a revolution if you do not go through these 3 stages. If something (Fintech) is promoted as a revolution without having stepped into these 3 stages, then it is probably not a revolution but either a “sponsored” new marketing stuff or a disguised old thing.
We overcame our fears and mistakes and will continue to do so. We will continue to innovate, and the only way humanity has evolved, is by testing, failing again and again, until it works, continuing to explore the Terra incognita of the knowledge applied to innovating things.
During lockdown, MIPS introduced and launched a portal called “eshops.mu” along with local banks under the Corona Emergency Programme, which helped pave the way for the digitalisation of the economy, and new ways of doing things. Could you share a few successful anecdotes after its launch? What were the challenges you faced during implementation and where do things stand now with eshops.mu?
Eshops.mu was a huge success and still is. We are currently working on a new “state” with a totally new overall concept. On a successful anecdote, well, we’ve had feedback where people have told us the deliveries have been made on time, too fast actually! On the challenging front, we have had issues with merchants, on the supply chain flow and so on. Sometimes, people do tend not to understand that it was during an emergency period.
You’ve changed the payment landscape with PayStation, by introducing Chip & Pin Payment, contactless card payment, Airpay with phone, Airpay with other devices, Telpay with phone number and Telpay for contactless payments. Could you take us through each of these products individually of how they work? How can someone register for it?
The preregistrations are happening right now, and the response has been very welcoming.
Registrations can take place from 3 different ways (after preregistration happening on https://smartcommerce.mips.mu):
- In full autonomy, the account holder registers online on the portal we will disclose soon (credit, debit card, accounts etc.)
- Just after an ecommerce Payment on a MIPS Ecommerce merchant
- Just after a PayStation Payment taken by the hand by the “Cashier”
You can have a look at this video, which explains the features of PayStation2. This is a Multichannel Payment machine using our “Made in Moris” technologies: AirPay and TelPay. So, it is not only a simple Card Payment machine, but also a Smart Payment Machine with contactless features and multibank features capabilities. For more information, click here.
If there is a connectivity issue that crops up, how can you help the user resolve the issue?
With the PayStation for instance, the transaction just either goes through or else it does not. The merchant can always access a permanent Cloud BackOffice to check the Real Status of the Payment. Same applies for the Account Holder.
What are the trends you see in this sector?
To be honest, I am seriously not the kind to follow trends, I would rather create them, one of the reasons being that people who believe they are making trends are sometimes creating a trend which, from my humble point of view, is already a prehistoric-one.
MIPS Fintech Ecosystem has started expanding its services as a Payment Gateway to countries in the Indian Ocean and Sub-saharan Africa regions. FinTech is an evolving sector, and in Mauritius we have seen this sector grow in the past few months, driven by the lockdownMIPS is now present via financial institutions in Madagascar, Seychelles and Maldives and processes payments in various lines of business as an established Fintech Company, through the Payment Gateway and the Feature oriented Payment Ecosystem. How has this been fared so far? How would you describe your Africa & Indian Ocean markets’ strategy?
Well, MIPS has certainly come a long way into FinTech across borders. For this one, we were contacted and introduced by third parties across borders because they found out that our products and services were cool, useful, disruptive and game changing. I think because they merge technical skills and understanding of what an ecosystem is, we are a huge banksarised country with an establishment that is already in place. Some of them want to go forward, some don’t, some just don’t have ideas and some just copy paste others’ work without understanding the essence of what a feature is and do keep in mind – payment is not a feature.
As a member of the Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub, what more do you think can be done to upscale the FinTech space here in Mauritius and Africa to grow the FinTech ecosystem?
Open APIs and open-minded people who really want to help their company and their country should want to step in. People that just want to give a meaning to many forms of innovation and communicate about it.
But there are really very few innovate projects – for example: a cashback is not an innovation; it is a marketing communication. A reduced price for a tech service is not an innovation, it’s marketing; a billboard saying that you innovate is not innovation; buying a costly software to do whatever in a company is not innovation, it is just using a costly software. I believe a simple new process without even talking about technology could be an innovation. Often decision makers love to use a readymade expensive international tool to have the minimum responsibilities towards a board. And using an imported technology is called innovation, that is not it, we must know the difference between business and Innovation.
Having the label ‘Made in Moris’ associated with MIPS, how do you see the future of this space in Mauritius, for Africa and for reaching out to global markets?
I am proud of it. It does not mean that we restrict ourselves to Mauritius. We are recognised internationally as a local product or service that can be exported.
MIPS launched the ‘Smart Commerce’ project in November this year aiming to grow any business the smart way, how does this work?
Our initial aim is to stop segmenting ecommerce and talk about Smart Commerce. MIPS Smart Commerce is not a technology, it is a state of mind using technologies like AirPay, TelPay, PayStayion, MyPOS (coming in some weeks) and many local innovative technologies. The Smart Commerce concept is to be launched in three phases and you will see it happening next year around March or April.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming projects? How do you foresee the prospects for 2021?
We have projects that we are working on and in the pipeline in Mauritius and Africa. I believe it’s time for us to be ready to become Digital Darwinists in an open “competitive” ecosystem. Some projects that we will be launching soon are:
- Launch of the Extra Billing System for Hotels essentially, allowing them to take money at an any point in the time during the Client’s stay (better cashflow management, can replace any warranty system of PreAuth type).
- Launch of the 1BMV technology (1 basket Multi-Vendor) for marketplaces. A Market place doesn’t need to have a Market place licence with this technology, because we credit the account of all merchants present in the Basket or the marketplace in Real Time and we settle the Marketplace of its fees automatically. No more stress for reconciliations and settle back etc.
- Launch of the remember me functionality: Your means of payment is being remembered all along the MIPS Merchant’s ecosystem.
The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub is a fast-growing ecosystem where entrepreneurs, corporations, governments, tech experts, investors, financial service providers, universities and research institutions can collaborate to build cutting-edge solutions for the emerging African market.