Congratulations to Payfirma, 2013's #13 Most Innovative Company in B.C.
Companies that don’t offer customers alternatives to cash payment risk losing business. But when you’re a small or mobile business, bulky and expensive point-of-sale terminals aren’t an option. Vancouver-based Payfirma Corp. solves the problem with online-payment systems and a credit-card swiping dongle for the iPhone and iPad.
Payfirma lets businesses accept credit card payments online, in-store and on mobile devices, and stores transaction data in one place. Businesses can then use that data to target marketing efforts based on Payfirma’s geo-tagging function.
Payfirma made a splash in its first year when it was named the Best New Canadian Startup in KPMG’s 2011 Canadian Startup Awards, and the company’s continued growth reflects an under-served market. “We have uncovered a massive greenfield market in the U.S.A. and Canada of businesses that previously dealt in cash and cheque only,” says CEO Michael Gokturk. “We’ve dragged them into the digital age. Plumbers, refrigerator trades, people who have dealt in a cash-only environment, are now taking credit cards.”
What differentiates Payfirma from its competitors? “We get shit done,” says Gokturk. His confidence that Payfirma can dance circles around the big guys isn’t just talk; the company’s revenue grew from $1.5 million in 2011, its first year, to over $5 million in 2012, and according to Gokturk Payfirma is on track to crack $20 million in 2013. “Competing against the banks is not a hard thing to do at all; they move at the pace of a glacier,” he says.
A slow-moving corporate culture prompted Gokturk to leave Versapay Corp., the payment-processing company that he founded in 2005 and took public in 2010, and try the mobile-payment idea elsewhere. Using his share of the proceeds from Versapay’s IPO, Gokturk launched Payfirma with Sunan Spriggs, current COO.
Williams Moving & Storage Ltd., one of Payfirma’s earliest clients, was instrumental in the company’s quick growth, thanks to its referrals to other movers. “Movers were the fastest adopters of our application, because when someone delivers your furniture they want to have the payment confirmed before they unload,” says Gokturk.
Payfirma plans to adapt its product to retail stores, letting customers check out with a staff member from anywhere in a store. Gokturk refers to this as the “Apple check-out experience,” which he believes is a big boost to customer service. “My mandate is to get rid of lineups forever,” he explains. He envisions replacing traditional point-of-sale terminals for retailers ranging from mobile small businesses to giant department stores.
Up next for Payfirma is the launch of its tablet-based point-of-sale system and shifting more of its sales efforts outside of Canada.