With rapid technological growth comes an expanding need for safety and online precautions. That is where Infinitium Group of Companies saw the opportunity. Starting out as a private limited company in Kuala Lumpur, the company was set up with the aim of developing electronic payment solutions for its customers.
Their expertise includes developing payment gateways and fraud detection servers for enterprise merchants.
Ho Ching Wee, CEO of Infinitium Group of Companies, discusses with The Peak the ways in which his company helps make the e-commerce market a safer space.
When you first started Infinitium When you first started Infinitium did you ever foresee the kind of growth it would experience?
I graduated from the U.S. with a Finance major in Corporate Finance in 1997. It was also the year of the financial crisis, so when I came back to Malaysia I couldn’t find a job. While I was in the States though, the internet was the hottest thing, and it had just started being used in Universities with emails and the kickstart of the Worldwide Web. So when I did return to Malaysia, I thought to myself that if I were to do something that I liked, it would have to be internet related.
When we first started it was to get companies online. We set up email accounts, web hosting accounts, helped the company build websites and things similar to that. Some of our clients had come to us in our earlier years and asked us to enable selling capabilities on their website so we started building storefronts, shopping carts and things like that. When you start building selling capabilities, payment function is one of the main requirements which is when we began knocking on the bank’s door to try to understand how we can handle payments through the bank, for online.
It took us a while as whenever we approached a bank about online payment, they would ask us if we meant sending through credit card details online, which at that point had never been done before. Fortunately, we had one bank give us a shot by asking us to send in money the way an EDC merchant (Electronic Data Capture) sends theirs in, then the bank could potentially work with us. That is how we started venturing into payments, and along the way, we decided to focus our attention on finding a solution for banks. That is how today after 21 years of operation in a business related to banks, we have approximately 50 over banks as customers, 180 million card base within these banks and today on average we will be processing 12 million authentications per month, on behalf of these 50 banks. We also operate in six countries Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, India and Vietnam.
What are some of Infinitium’s new services?
Infinitium specialises in authenticating and securing payments. We are in the business of providing payment securities and one of the payment securities that we provide is to authenticate online transactions.
Some of the new things that we are adding to the authentication system are biometric authentications where we will now ask you to authenticate yourself either through fingerprints or facial recognition on your smartphone. From there, we will verify that you are who you say you are, and the transaction will be accepted. These are some of the new innovations we will be bringing to the market that will also be rolled out across all 50 banks who work with us.
Was it hard to get people to adapt to the internet when it was considered new and uncommon?
Our transaction record goes back 10 years ago and every year we have been growing close to 20% to 30% year on year, in terms of transaction growth. What this means is that when a consumer uses their card to buy something online and they realise it is secure and safe, then the repeat purchase continues to occur. In countries like Indonesia, year-on-year growth has been tremendous. There are certain years we experience a 100% growth. Based on today’s data we believe that the penetration of e-commerce amongst cardholders in Malaysia should be hitting 20% to 30% of our market. To further elaborate I mean 20 to 30% of our consumers have made online purchases compared to the remaining 70%, and that number will continue to grow.
Is there a reason why Malaysia’s e-commerce growth is not increasing as quickly as any other developing country?
I think there are a few reasons why Malaysia is not adopting e-commerce as quickly as other developed countries. Firstly, e-commerce is an ecosystem so you will also need merchants who will accept that form of payment. For a society to grow into a cashless community, it’s not just the dependent on the consumer but the acceptance on the merchant’s side is also as important, then only can you have the full ecosystem. I believe the banks and central banks in this region are working towards that, and that is why we are seeing more and more alternative payment methods and e-wallets that are coming on board. That is the direction that the whole country is moving in. Our growth and the adoption of some of these payment methods are very healthy.
Even in Malaysia’s future where cashless payments are made in the majority of the time, I don’t think we will get rid of total cash. A currency is still needed as a settlement or amongst other countries as a sovereignty, but on a day-to-day schedule, a cashless option would be preferable.