Bluechain offers a new mobile phone payment that can turn a mobile device into a vehicle for pushing or receiving payments.
By SAMMI NDERITU
In September 2017, Bluechain celebrated the company’s formal launch into Kenya with a reception hosted in conjunction with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) during the Seamless East Africa 2017 Financial Inclusion Summit at a Nairobi Hotel.
The celebration formally marked the opening of Bluechain’s first African office and subsidiary in Nairobi, Kenya. It was hosted together with representatives from Austrade and Bluechain’s Yoku Korsah, Managing Director of Africa, and Kurt Mueffelmann, Global Executive Vice President.
“We are pleased to be in Kenya, a country that is the crown jewel for mobile payments. We are coming to provide additional payment by pulling all the various modes of payment types into one user experience,” says Mueffelmann.
Bluechain is a next-gen payment platform that offers central payment networks, financial institutions and the broader payment ecosystem a secure system to streamline all types of payment transactions. The company was founded in Australia by Craig Glendenning who is currently the Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer.
The actual motivation for Bluechain was all about security. “Glendenning is a legend in the credit card space and systems in the last 15 years. The one thing that kept him awake at night is that security of credit and bank cards is always going to be a major issue. News media have constant reports about credit card breaches and fraud,” explains Mueffelmann. He adds that Glendenning wondered how he can eliminate that and have a unique security paradigm that puts the credit card security at that of the user and not at the merchant.
When a transaction is made through Bluechain’s system, a user’s personal details like identity, card or account number and any other personal info is not transmitted or transferred, it remains with the user’s device. “When you make a payment, it should be anonymous. The system also gives a user the ability on how to make a payment either through the account, credit card or M-Pesa account. Right now, we are working within the IOS, Android and Windows platforms,” says Mueffelmann.
Bluechain leverages a new security paradigm across any open network that turns a mobile device into a vehicle for pushing or receiving payments. By so doing, the technology reduces the major causes of account or card fraud and breaches. “This is in addition to increasing mobile payment adoption and lowers fees and costs while creating new opportunities for greater social inclusion and transparency,” explains Mueffelmann. He adds that the company leverages existing rail infrastructure for greater interoperability and provides a consistent and single user experience across all payment types.
So, is payment by cards becoming useless? “They are not but if you look at how the internet was built. Credit cards were not developed for internet transaction and that is why we are able to take the virtual of a credit card into your phone and make it work in real time,” notes Mueffelmann.
The Global VP notes that Bluechain’s product offers several benefits to businesses. They include payment transparency, Request to Pay – an opportunity to bill up front and forecast when your bill will be paid as well as getting valuable information on when the consumer will make a pending payment. “With this payment product, a merchant can tell how the cash flow is going to be, can identify financial disputes early hence work on a quick solution, and can also identify which customer is going to pay earlier and hence can customise discounts,” says Mueffelmann.
As the company settles into the Kenyan market with the planned launch of the product in January 2018, it is currently working with a number of national switches as well as Tier one banks as it seeks to understand their requirements. “We look at not going directly through the consumer or merchant but going through the bank; as these are the bank’s customers, not ours.” explains Mueffelmann.
As a seasoned senior level executive with over 25 years of international experience, Mueffelmann is excited with the Kenyan market and the opportunity available for the company to make an impact in the financial sector. At Bluechain, he is responsible for steering the go-to-market strategy and closing key strategic alliances and enterprise sales.
Bluechain is the fifth company that he is running in his career life having been involved in successful business start-ups four times. On his leadership style, he says; “I like to lead from the front. You always should hire people who are smarter than you. I want to work with people who will get their hand dirty and get the work done. I like an open communication style that allows people to set their own tactical objectives within the company strategy and execute on the plan while being held accountable.”
The author is writer, photographer and digital media expert at Kenya Institute of Management.