Sr.Pago is a Mexican enterprise that came about due to a great problem that existed in this country; there was a large sector of the population that could not obtain access to bank accounts, or be allowed to pay with a credit or debit card. This is how the idea was born to create a platform that allows you to accept card payments using a smartphone or tablet.
We spoke with Enrique Marú, Marketing Manager within Sr.Pago, who explained to us how the platform works, as well as the services that are offered in order to meet the great need that the Mexican population had.
Enrique, to start, could you tell us about what Sr.Pago is?
Sr.Pago began as an online invoicing platform (also known as e-commerce). It was detected that there was a very specific need within the population, where the majority of people were used to completing transactions through a credit card and not as much through digital platforms. As for today, regarding the finances here in Mexico, there are still people who have real concerns with using these e-commerce platforms (for security reasons). Therefore, we took to discussing the subject in a positive light, to express that it’s an application that has major international certifications in order to receive payments using a card, whether it be a chip or magnetic strip card. Consequently, there will surely be other options that will be presented by our competition.
In the first place, Sr.Pago, in distinction with any other brand on the market today, was innovated a bit in the sense that we don’t simply offer the capability to read cards (through a connection with a smartphone or tablet where you can receive payments), but that it’s grown to function within a platform that takes care of everything and allows for payments to be made with any card and any brand (MasterCard, Visa, American Express).
In the second place, you can also submit checks or payment stubs to more than 25,000 establishments that form a part of ComproPago, such as Oxxo, 7-Eleven, Elektra, Coppel, etc. In addition, we are the only business that gives you a card, the Sr.Pago MasterCard, that is backed by a micro financial business (Te Creemos Bank), so if you do not have a card that links to a bank account, we are here to ensure that you have the option to use ours.
Right now, more than 70% of the Mexican population does not have a bank account, so people are not used to discussing subjects regarding banks (they are fearful of them). They have heard stories about their friends that have been supposedly foreclosed on, but they are stories that—with a bit more financial education—could easily be disproved. In the event that someone does not want to go into a bank, sign a contract or deal with an institution, they can go through us. The client has the ability to purchase the app (that comes with the card), follow a few simple steps through their smartphone or tablet to ensure that they have registered their card, and then they are able to sign the contract right there on the screen. From that moment on, they can begin charging their clients through our system.
You can also make a bit more of a profit off of your investment once you have registered; this is possible because we have an agreement with the telephone companies and, with the money that you have on your card, you are able to offer your clients air time. Finally, we have one last service which is known as e-commerce. Individuals who have financially registered (they have a Federal Taxpayer Registration) can use the e-commerce platform, which is practically where cards are charged. We offer a more robust and complete system than the competition does.
I’ve seen that there is much discussion regarding your business on social media. What did you do to gain this kind of attention?
Currently, we are making a significant investment into the digital arena and our marketing department has grown immensely because of this. Furthermore, we have a good public relations team that has helped propel us forward. Right now, the main theme that we are launching on social media sites is the launch of the Bluetooth reader. Which, right now, we have it and are offering it within the market. There is a competitor who also has it (but a much lesser presence than ours), but the key point here is that no other platform has this to the extent we do. It’s an investment that has helped us reach a much larger audience.
Speaking of social media, how important are these sites for you? Which one works the best for your business?
Well, Facebook. We are currently working with Facebook and Twitter, but we also have some presence on YouTube. Our investment is divided up 70%-30%, with the 70% belonging to Facebook. There are many businesses that say that it’s not a reliable sales method, but for Sr.Pago, it’s one of the main ways we make a profit. Through Facebook, we are able to close almost all of our sales.
So, Facebook is the site that draws the most attention from clients?
Yes, that’s correct.
What strategies do you use in order to retain clients?
More than a year ago, we began a journey that a few of us were already aware of, but it was regarding the topic of the client’s experience. It drastically changed our focus from the one that we had previously as a business, where we were much more focused on the technological aspects and the product. It’s not that we shouldn’t have been paying attention to this area, but we realized that in order to maintain positive client relationships, we needed to evolve as a business and opt to place a unique focus on our clients.
We then decided that we needed to use a methodology, known as customer happiness, to improve the experience that our clients were having with us. Since then, we have invested a lot of economic effort and time into training each of our agents and assuring that they all meet the standards required to give each client the attention they deserve, regardless of the means of communication.
Furthermore, we offer complementary benefits to initial buyers. Currently, a client buys an app and they could end up using this app throughout a whole year without any kind of a retargeting strategy, as it were. After a determined amount of time, through a team in our Key Account, we seek out these clients and offer them our additional services, such as e-commerce assistance and other ways to help clients grow through the services we offer.
What plans do you have for the future? How do you propose to continue your current evolution?
Well, right now we have a very strong goal for this year. A few months back, we received an important investment (from a large company). They are evidently requiring massive results, such as growth on a national scale. We are currently working on plans to begin working within cities such as Guadalajara and Monterrey as well as a few other places where we know that there is an elevated number of transactions.
The growth that we are expecting won’t simply come due to the promotion of our product in other cities, but also through the towns and individuals over the age of 18 who have a need for a backer and can get in touch with us (a great advantage that we hold in comparison to other types of products). The banks, for example, require you to be registered, have a bank account with them, and that, at the end of the day, you are able to present them with or meet a set monthly quota in order for them to continue the financial relationship they have with you. You have to buy it, and furthermore, the process can take up to a month before they give you the go ahead.
With us, you are able to obtain an app that is practical in almost any situation. Clients are able to buy it through the Sr.Pago offices at Walmart, Chedraui, and Bodega Aurrerá. Also, we currently have a great distribution system including great allies at a national level who help us ensure that the product reaches its destination. The cost of this app. if you buy it in Chedraui in the case of the Bluetooth, one is currently selling at a rate of 597 pesos. If you purchase the app online, it costs exactly the same, and we give you free shipping. There is no excuse to not have it.
In Mexico City, we are also conducting a trial period to deliver the product to your home on the same day that the order is placed. People that buy products online are very distressed and need what they are buying right then. This is when they begin to say “when will it get here?” “send me the guide,” etc. It’s a trial that we are conducting in 4 areas and we already have our distributor here on call who is in charge of ensuring products reach their destination. We don’t do this through a mailing system such as Ahí Voy. The advantage of our distributor is that they are familiar with the product so they are able to provide further assistance beyond simple delivery. Surely, the same day a client purchases the app, they are able to begin charging their customers. It’s a promise that we want to make to our clients.
I understand that Sr.Pago began as an application, as an app. Do you believe that the reign of apps has already passed or that they remain just as important?
No, on the contrary. I believe that they are becoming increasingly important because there are so many products and services that must begin to join the application sector. It’s not a topic that is treated as fashionable but, at the end of the day, it’s something that we all use. There are some pieces of information that Google sells us where it states that more than 60% of consultations that are realized are done through mobile applications. This means then, that the app has not lost its importance. I don’t believe that it’s something that has begun to move to the past but is something that will remain in the future. Companies need to provide their own application in order to be more in touch with consumers.
And lastly, what advice do you have for startups that are just beginning?
Well, they should have a very firm grasp on their business model and know their product both inside and out. Also, never, under any circumstances, should they ever stop considering their clients. The most important part of a business is made up of the external client and the internal client. Those that are your allies, your collaborators, they are the ones that you should always listen to. Subsequently, all of your clients are individuals who have given you their vote of confidence. Startups need to learn to listen to them and to maintain as many communication channels as possible. In this way, before something happens that could be damaging to the business, they will be able to respond and satisfy the needs that begin arising as they occur with their foundation on the product that is being offered.
If you loved the interview with Sr. Pago and want to know more about marketing strategy for financial services, you can also take a look at the interview with Sterck Kulik O’Neill Accounting Firm!
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