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Building the Highway
for Payments

November 23, 2020

  •   3 min read

“The e-commerce ecosystem in the US did not improve overnight, and our country is on that same path."

FRANCIS PLAZA
CEO and Co-Founder
Paymongo


Francis is the CEO and Co-Founder of PayMongo. Francis graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and with his background in software engineering, he has worked in Oracle and Impraise. In the summer of 2019, he and his team were accepted into Y-Combinator.

THE INTERVIEW

What was the original idea behind PayMongo?

I was a freshman in MIT when the founders of Stripe, who were seniors at my school, created their startup. Throughout the years, we saw how it started taking over online payments and this served as an inspiration for our own business.

I knew that the Philippines was ripe for something similar. So in March of 2019, we just started coding. We had no concept and product yet, but we had 800 customers signing up for the waitlist. This signaled the value of what we were trying to bring to the market. A secure, easily accessible online payments channel was a service needed by all kinds of people, from multinationals to regular individual sellers who just wanted to conduct business online.

What are the challenges you encountered in founding and growing a startup in the Philippines?

Back in college, the experience that I valued the most was learning from the people around me. My classmates continuously challenged me to do better, and with my experience in Y-Combinator, I met founders of well-established startups like Airbnb who have been there, done that.

Entrepreneurs in the Philippines need experienced role models that they can easily reach out to. The biggest challenge is finding mentors who can teach you the ropes when you are just starting out.

If we want to grow this ecosystem, we need to encourage more founders and build a larger network. All together, we can make great things.

What is your vision for the company in the coming years?

For me, I don’t want to build just another payment gateway system. I want to build a platform that will allow everyone to use payments as a catalyst for growth.

Payments are at the heart of commerce. We want to build better and more inclusive infrastructure. Our vision is to build a highway that any car can pass through.

What is your view of the Philippine Fintech landscape?

The Philippines is the second largest country in the region and is a service-based economy. The majority of our population is young and speaks English. On top of that, we are strategically located on the globe and well-connected to the West.

If we push it a little bit more, then we will have the same macro fundamentals that the US had years ago. The e-commerce ecosystem in the US did not improve overnight, and our country is on that same path.

Do you think the Philippines has the homegrown talent and expertise needed for Fintech companies to flourish?

Yes, I strongly believe that we do. We have rich engineering talent. In my experience, I have noticed a divide between people with technical and business expertise. Over time, these skills will converge and that barrier will slowly disappear.

There’s really only two things you need to do: talk to your users and build the product. As we encourage each other, together we can focus on building solutions.

Paymongo is a fintech startup simplifying online payments processes for merchants and other markets. They are backed by prominent investors such as Peter Thiel, payment processor Stripe, Founders Fund and Y Combinator. In the pandemic, demand for their transactions increased over 4x.

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