Visa initiative spurring payment solutions by Thai startups

United States-based credit card company Visa is challenging Thai startups to develop solutions to difficult problems in the realm of online payments through a competition launched under its “Visa’s Everywhere Initiative” in Thailand with an eye towards assisting the Kingdom in developing its digital economy.

The Visa Everywhere Initiative has been launched in several countries, but this competition marks its debut in Thailand. The company said the initiative “is a global innovation program that challenges start-ups to build the next big thing in payments and accelerate the future of commerce, leveraging the Visa worldwide network.”

Thailand has a vibrant, growing and promising startup scene. Several Thai startups, especially in fintech and payments, have drawn local and global institutional investment and venture capitalist funding. The Bank of Thailand has been supporting the startup ecosystem for fintech firms by creating a “sandbox” where their applications can be tested before release into the general marketplace.

In addition, the Stock Exchange of Thailand is close to launching a sub-exchange for startups with looser listing requirements so they can raise funds from savvy investors who are able and willing to invest in opportunities that by nature carry a higher degree of risk.

Jessada Sookdhis, president of the Thai Fintech Association, said the Visa competition would help drive wider adoption of electronic payments in Thailand by creating solutions that address real needs.

Visa will provide startups in its competition with a set of tools from its Visa API, or Application Program Interface, a suite of programs available through the Visa Developer Platform.

By providing Visa applications and capabilities to Thai innovators and developers, Visa hopes to help foster the evolution of Thailand’s digital economy, said Suripong Tantiyanon, Visa Thailand country manager.

“Using the Visa Developer Platform, Visa wants to enable co-creations among many of our banking and technology partners. We look forward to seeing many creative solutions in this year’s competition,” Suripong said.

The competition is asking startups to address three issues that require solutions:

How can start-ups innovate to create relevant and rewarding digital payment experiences for international tourists visiting Thailand?

How can start-ups leverage social media platforms to accelerate commerce and scale access to financial services?

How can start-ups innovate to make digital payments easy to access and capable of adding value for merchants?

A panel of industry leaders, including Visa executives, will judge the entrants and select the winners on March 9 in Bangkok. The winner will receive over $31,000 in funding, mentoring opportunities, exposure to Visa partners and access to facilities and experts at Visa’s Innovation Centre in Singapore.