Aimazing, a Singaporean tech startup, with the launch of their pilot program earlier this month, is now aiming to commercialize their innovative technology of using sound to make mobile payments.
Aimazing intends to target the mobile payments market by introducing a more convenient option than the near field communication (NFC) technology currently available. The startup has made it to the top 30 in Slush Singapore, held in September 2016. It has also been selected for season four of ‘Start-UP’ program organized by Channel NewsAsia.
“Phones are made to produce sound,” said COO and co-founder Yar Hong Chiong. “Using sound, anyone with a smartphone can have access to mobile wallets.”
How does it work?
Aimazing sends payments across devices by sending a data-encrypted sound code from the customer’ device to the merchant’s device. This transaction can easily be done on any mobile phone since it only needs a microphone and speakers on both ends. NFC technology, however, requires a chip in the user’s smartphone and a specialised reader at the point of sale. Moreover, Apple’s operating system inhibits iPhone’s NFC chip’s accessibility and further development limiting the use of mobile wallets like Singtel Dash and DBS Paylah.
From Game to Business:
Aimazing had started off as a game last April where users could use credit to bid for items and carry out small online transactions.
After the game gained the intended user base, CEO Jun Ting and CTO Kong Yi Kai introduced the sound technology developed by Yi Kai, equipping the users to use Aimazing as a mobile wallet and make transactions offline. However, this venture increased the costs and reduced the profit margins by a great deal.
“At one point, we said, ‘How can we pivot this business to make it more sustainable?’” Hong Chiong recalled. “So we pulled back to try to sell this technology to existing mobile wallets.”
Hong Chiong propelled the project into a business by constructing a software development kit (SDK), that would enable developers to make apps compliant with Aimazing’s technology.
The shift of business to B2B model acquired two partners; Chope Singapore and Fleizo. The partnerships strengthened the company, enabling it to make use of partners services of voucher redemption and accessibility of co-working spaces.
Chope Singapore embedded the technology into their system by using the Aimazing app to redeem customers’ restaurant vouchers. Customers receive a sound file, encrypted with the specified voucher details, which they then play to the restaurant’s cell phone to redeem their Chope vouchers.
The pilot program with Flezio is still in development stages. Hong Chiong, however, indicated that Fleizo will embed their technology by developing an app that would set up membership details of customers as a sound code. The sound code will act as a virtual membership card, enabling the users to access co-work spaces they apply for, while automatically recording their entry and exit times.
After the end of the pilot program of Chope Singapore in December 2016, Aimazing aims to charge the clients on a transaction basis.
Potential for Growth :
“The payments and fintech market has much potential, but there is also fierce competition,” said Chris. “[In] markets like Indonesia, Vietnam, or the Philippines, the banking penetration is much lower than in Singapore. These markets are in need of innovative payment solutions.”
The startup having raised funds from IJAM grant and an angel investment from Jon Tse, founder of Zookal, now aims to deploy them for the introduction of the sound technology in digital door locks and e-tickets.
“Getting sufficient funding as quickly as possible and subsequently expanding to other countries in Southeast Asia will be crucial to Aimazing’s success”, said Chris Tran, lead consultant for e-commerce and digital transformation at Frost and Sullivan.
Aimazing aspires to collaborate in future, with the big fish in the Mobile wallet market such as Singtel Dash and DBS Paylah, opening them to a wider customer base and making them independent of NFC smartphones. It all comes down to whether Singtel Dash and DBS Paylah are interested in collaborating with the startup. For them to extend the hand of collaboration, Aimazing will have to prove it’s worth and establish the demand for their product in the mobile wallet market. Only by overcoming such challenges can Aimazing thrive and succeed.
- payments by sound: Livemint