Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) Visa today announced the regional winners for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) in its Visa Everywhere Initiative, a global innovation program and competition for startups and fintech companies.
First place for CEMEA and $15,000 in prize money went to Payze of Georgia. Payze now advances to the global finals being held on September 14 with $100,000 in prizes available including $50,000 for the overall winner.
Founded in 2020 by Giorgi Tsurtsumia and Kakha Gelashvili, Payze is an innovator of financial transactions, helping businesses in CIS countries accept payments from around the world through a single integration. By April 2021 Payze has been processing more than serving more than 200 merchants growing 35% month over month in gross transaction volume.
“We are excited and proud to share that the winner of Visa Everywhere Initiative in CEMEA is originated from Georgia. The fact that the Georgian startup became the main finalist of Visa Everywhere Initiative in CEMEA among 760 applicants proves that Georgia is not only the world’s leader in contactless payments, but also has a great influence on the world’s fintech map. We are proud, that Visa, leading the way in the development of cashless economy in Georgia and the Caucasus region, is an active initiator of a such range of programs and strives to create a stable cohesion between the ideas and their implementation connecting fintech companies and traditional players of the financial system all over the world. Success attend you during the finals, Payze!”, mentioned Diana Kiguradze, Country Manager for the Caucasus region.
Also honored at the June 9 CEMEA regional finals was Safepay of Pakistan, which took the Audience Favorite award and $10,000 in prize money.
TechCrunch is a leading online publisher focused on the tech industry, being the heart of the global startup ecosystem. As a media partner of Visa Everywhere Initiative, TechCrunch hosted the CEMEA regional finals in the live-streamed format. Thanks to their continuing support, the finalist virtually presented their solutions to the payment challenges of tomorrow to an expert panel of judges.
The expert panel of judges included:
- Shereen Abdulla, Senior Manager, DIFC Fintech Hive;
- Neil Caldwell, Senior Vice-President, Head of Merchant Sales & Acquisitions, Visa CEMEA;
- Ines Rocha, Director for Financial Products, SME Finance & Development Team, EBRD;
- Tad Tilahun, Senior Vice-President, Head of Products and Solutions, Visa CEMEA;
- Otto Williams, Senior Vice-President, Head of Partnerships, Innovation & Digital Solutions, Visa CEMEA;
- Rena Zuabi, Value Creation, Disruptive Investments, Mubadala.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with VISA with whom we have a strategic partnership Visa aiming to support SMEs. Assisting start-ups, early stage companies and young entrepreneurs in particular in the digital space is at the core of the work we do at EBRD on SMEs. I am delighted to see a company from our Countries of Operation, PAYZE from Georgia, winning the CEMEA finals!”- noted Ines Rocha, Director for Financial Products, SME Finance & Development Team, EBRD.
“Winning Visa Everywhere Initiative is a testament of the hard work our team is putting forward, and we are extremely proud of this achievement. It was fascinating and at the same time challenging experience competing against the best startups in the region, but it was a growth point to us as a startup which has been contributing to the process of receiving and managing online payments of any tech company or person in the CIS region. We are grateful to Visa for providing all 760 applicants in CEMEA with this unique opportunity and believe that the tools and technologies Visa offers are crucial for the further development of payment ecosystem”, told Giorgi Tsurtsumia, co-founder, Payze.
The Visa Everywhere Initiative helps fintech innovators in two ways: as a program, it plugs them into the network of startups that our product teams from all over the world access when searching for solutions; and as a competition, it gives them a forum in which to make a pitch to a panel of payments experts, win prizes and gain wider attention.
The competition is tailored to startups and fintechs with great products already in market and gaining traction – and looking for an extra push from a global, trusted brand like Visa to gain scale.
In all, five companies advanced to the CEMEA regional finals. Besides Payze and Safepay, the other three finalists were:
- Habtamu Tadesse, Founder & CEO, ArifPay, Ethiopia
- Alexander Grishin, Executive Director, Corp.bank, Russia
- Michael Femi Simeon, Co-Founder & CEO, VPD Money, Nigeria
The focus of this year’s competition is on products that deliver innovative payment and commerce solutions to consumers and businesses. These encompass the market areas of: Enablers of digital services and digital issuers; Digital issuance; Value-add for merchants and/or consumers in regard to finance; and Small to medium-sized business recovery. In overall more than 2000 applicants participated in the competition.
In the global finals, which will be live-streamed on TechCrunch, Payze will compete against regional winners from Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America.
About the Visa Everywhere Initiative
The Visa Everywhere Initiative is a global, open innovation program that tasks start-ups and fintechs to solve payment and commerce challenges of tomorrow, further enhance their own product propositions and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners. The program launched in the U.S. in 2015 and quickly expanded into a global program with more than 7,000 participating startups. To date, startups have collectively raised over $2.5 billion in funding, and the program has been activated on six continents – touching more than 100 countries. For more information, visit visa.com.