The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend of digital payments easing out cash in favour of something more convenient, trackable and of course: with fewer physical points of contact.

Now just under $10 trillion in annual digital payments are expected for 2023 and growth projections remain incredibly strong: by 2027 it could be $14.78 trillion.

Fintech and finance in general are not industries naturally geared towards creating more equitable communities, because it doesn’t fit into the profit motive followed by many companies operating in the space.

Yet in the ever-evolving landscape of financial technology, businesses are sleepwalking through a watershed moment: there is now an unrivalled chance to make a meaningful impact on societies by reshaping the way we transact.

Fintech firms like ours, which I founded and run, can help to spearhead a revolution in payments but it all comes down to the mission statement and explicit goals. Often it can be instructive to set out a plan in a headline. For our team, this boils down to a very simple mantra: you can make a profit while making a difference.

Transforming payments through innovation 

It can be observed that progress and innovation throughout human history never exists in a vacuum. There are always social and cultural contexts, not to mention economic, which not only lead to the conditions for invention but also the circumstances needed for mass adoption.

More than one billion of the global population have been lifted out of extreme poverty by capitalism since 1990, yet inequality is rising and the world’s natural environment looks ever more precarious with ecosystems and earth systems under existential threat.

This is the context today, and that means businesses hold more responsibility than ever before; leaders must feel urgency to pivot operations to alleviate these very pressing concerns. Fortunately, consumers are increasingly voting with their wallets on the adoption of more sustainable and equitable practices.

We can leverage technology for these ends. The rise of QR code payment in South East Asia is among the reasons why I, Thai-born but UK domiciled, founded KogoPAY in 2017. KogoPAY is an app that uses QR codes backed by blockchain technology, driven by my vision to create a platform that can bridge the gap between traditional financial systems and the digital era.

Recognising the explosion of popularity for QR code payments across my home region, I saw an opportunity to bring this cutting-edge payment method to the UK and beyond.

Herein lies a fundamental I believe is of the utmost importance: prioritise impactful innovation. It’s not always enough to follow the status quo — in fintech definitively not. If any company is going to create innovative solutions to significant issues, it’s important to take the time to consider a mission and purpose: whether the goals and undertaking align with societal needs.

Tangible value for customers seamlessly follows an approach towards progress designed to benefit a community. Make your customer base naturally inclined to pay for the innovation and the simultaneous benefit of a healthier society sells itself.

Using tech to make the world more equitable 

We can carry out powerful, transformative work by onboarding swathes of westerners onto the KogoPAY app. For example, in-app acts of charity are encouraged and can be transferred from a UK user to someone across the world who may be living on $7 a day. Untold benefit can emerge when we’re talking about something as simple as buying someone a food package, but our plans extend far beyond this.

Also, a central financial and banking services app that does not relentlessly monetise the user can unlock access for the roughly 1.4 billion unbanked adults in the world. Vendors and consumers alike will see their lives changed once monetary barriers to opening a bank account are subverted by a digital-first app that offers them the same product suite. Those in precarious situations, who only use cash, in some of the most impoverished parts of the world do not tend to save for the future, or for bigger ticket items which could improve their quality of life. We think this is a changeable situation; if we start now the exponential benefits will quickly stack over the next few decades.

Imbuing every payment with sustainability

Our commitment to sustainability is headlined by projects such as KogoGreen, an initiative which promotes carbon credits through a tokenised blockchain system. Using artificial intelligence, we aim to incentivise environmentally friendly purchases and carbon reduction through play-to-earn mechanisms.

The world is waking up at last to the cold fact that business models are long overdue an overhaul. We should never shy away from hard questions: important discussions on long-term profitability must balance with an efficient use of resources, as well as deep consideration of impacts on environment and society.

I always return to these two simple questions: would the company’s operating structure be able to survive in 50 years, and does it now contribute to the problem by worsening present challenges and helping to create new, future issues?

Any business should narrow down the focus to finding predictable revenue streams that stand a chance of long outlasting the current industry landscape. In an ideal world, companies would invest substantially in creating models better suited for a rapidly changing world, which at the same time minimise negative impacts as much as possible.

Workplace inclusivity is fairer and more profitable

Finance and tech have historically been mostly homogenous: boardrooms and hedge funds do not tend to be the most diverse. Pleasingly, this is changing but progress remains slower than it could be.

Being an entrepreneur of Thai heritage, and a woman, in the fintech industry meant I faced many hurdles in building KogoPAY. An unwavering commitment to social justice propelled me forward even when investment was looking impossible to attract. But it was difficult at times. Unfortunately, barriers exist, however with a collective effort we can break these down and create a brighter future.

I’m lucky: my extensive background in technology, finance, and business gave me a solid foundation for the challenges I would face. There is cause for optimism: corporate sensibilities have largely woken up to the need for ethical and inclusive company cultures. Businesses of any size can benefit from implementing values that foster a diversity-positive and inclusive environment. Creative solutions come from all corners of the room, from all different types of backgrounds, so it’s important to expand the depth and breadth of that room.

The great upshot is, beyond contributing to a more cohesive society, it actually increases the likelihood of success in reaching a broader customer base.

Now I’m in the position to leverage KogoPAY’s well-funded and fast-growing position in the market to reach out to high-profile UK charities for fundraising initiatives on the KogoPAY platform. Our official corporate partners are even interested in matching public donations which would do a world of good.

Today my team and I are fully focused on a mission beyond financial innovation; we are defined not just by fintech pedigree, but also social and environmental sustainability. Discerning the potential for businesses to promote values, wealth-sharing and human welfare while safeguarding the planet, we have sought partnerships that align with these principles. In fact, searching for like-minded investors and partners who shared a sense of purpose became a critical aspect of my entrepreneurial journey.

The unseen incremental gains made throughout an entrepreneur’s journey are of paramount importance. Because one day, you may break through the glass ceiling and deliver something that fulfils your values. In my case, this means transforming payments for the betterment of people from any and all backgrounds around the globe.


About the author

Dr Narisa Chauvidul-Aw – CEO & Founder of KogoPAY Group.

Narisa is a former professor at the London School of Economics who has set up a successful business called KogoPAY. She is also the only woman of ethnicity to become an industry leader in the fintech sector. KogoPAY is a socially conscious fintech start up providing banking services IBANs accounts for B2B and mobile e wallet and c wallet for P2P customers. It offers real time funds transfer of both domestic and cross border payments. Narisa loves innovative technologies such as using blockchain for real time settlement and using AI-based AML Risk Detection.  Focused on philanthropy, Narisa has set up KogoPAY to be inclusive, support the unbanked, underserved and create an ecosystem that is more than just a conventional business turning profits. Her platform is designed to promote financial inclusion by installing a ‘’Pay it Forward’’ culture within the DNA of her company’s ecosystem.

Most recent developments will include the in app KogoGreen which will incentivise users to make payments and earn CERO tokens by supporting products with carbon reduction or carbon-neutral labelling. This tokenised blockchain system leverages AI to create a wave of environmentally friendly actions through play-to-earn mechanisms.

Dr Narisa Chauvidul-Aw Awards – Women in Tech Global Award winner- Start up 2019 | WinTrade Global Award winner 2021- Women in Banking & Finance | Winner Go Global Award 2021 – Fintech.

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