The way it works, since the company began testing it in the city of Kahramanmaras in 2018, is that users can send a text message and refill their cards via mobile phone. The costs are deducted from pre-paid phone credits or added to a user’s bill for the month, FT reported.
It was an upgrade over the old method in which users had to use credit cards to top up on the internet. That was inconvenient for those who lacked bank accounts.
The method is soon to be rolled out in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, and other cities as well, FT reported.
In the past year, around 65,000 people in Kahramanmaras have used it, with the city having a total population of around 650,000.
Payguru’s mission is to fill the gap in Turkey for around 19 million unbanked residents. The country otherwise has sophisticated online banking products and an emerging FinTech sector.
Isik Uman, Payguru founder, told FT the company has been “planning to use the billing capability of operators in order to bill customers for purchases they made either in the physical world or online” for years now.
“Step by step we implemented an alternative way to collect money,” he said, according to FT.
Texting and SMS technology have been a boon for some companies during the pandemic, as they sought ways to stay afloat. Statistics from eCommerce automation and analytics platform Yotpo, quoted by PYMNTS, said that over 65 percent of people have been using their phones to browse or buy things, with a prediction that over half of eCommerce sales, or 54 percent, will be via mobile by 2021.
Yotpo, which works in bringing outreach, analytics and reviews to direct-to-consumers (D2C) brands, is pushing SMS as an alternative to email, and clients have reported positive returns on investments and higher engagement rates from texts.