WebXPay: The Gateway to a Thriving Economy

Omar Sahib Founding Chief Executive Officer, WEBXPAY


Payments gateway solutions company WEBXPAY is setting out to make digital payments more accessible. Four years since launching, this startup has recorded over Rs2 billion worth of payments on its platform. Founding Chief Executive Officer, Omar Sahib explains WEBXPAY’s transformational impact on Sri Lanka’s payments environment and how the company is helping businesses large and small realise their potential.

How was WEBXPAY conceived, what was the founding vision, and how has the journey been so far?

A total of 35 years of founders’ experience in the banking and payment industry was key in helping us realising the biggest hurdle that hopeful online businesses were facing; establishing a payment gateway. The vision behind WEBXPAY is a simple one; making payment gateways more accessible, more affordable, and far less complex to businesses that are looking to venture online into the eCommerce world.

With us, businesses (from small-time merchants to big businesses) are able to circumvent the heavy initial costs that are associated with setting up a payment gateway through more traditional means. Our journey has been a successful one in the mere four years we have been operating and currently, WEBXPAY is gearing up to cater to over 50,000 SMEs over the next 5 years and looking for partners to expand.

Can you take us through each of your products and services?

Besides XDirect, our email and SMS based invoicing platform, we introduced XSell, which creates link-based payments for social media sellers. This enables them to integrate a payment link in their captions, making it simple for customers to purchase the product they are viewing without having to navigate to the main website. This is an example of Conversational Commerce (cCommerce), where people communicate with the brand before they buy. XUSD is one of the free add-ons we have that allows merchants to accept foreign transactions bringing the dollar into the local economy. The other free addon is XInstallments used to convert online transactions into instalment plans in which the bank handles the conversion. XRepeater allows you to enter your card information once to make multiple payments (similar to taxi services) and recurring billing.

What makes WEBXPAY unique?

Value proposition. We have over 13 payment options without XInstallments. If you add all that, WEBXPAY has between 30-40 payment gateways integrated into the platform. When we started this platform for SMEs, we saw big businesses coming to us because it was easier for them to manage all their online payments on one platform. We have over a hundred major brands with us, and over 1,700 clients altogether.

We saw these big brands coming in because we offer more payment options than the competition as we are connected to multiple banks. Another differentiation we have is that you can settle with any bank, so you don’t have to shift accounts to suit your gateway provider. We also don’t charge merchants unnecessarily; every feature and addon we offer is included at no extra cost because we want the market to adapt to digital payments.

How do you see your business growing? And what do you think is the best way to go about increasing awareness on the advantages of digital payments?

Prior to COVID, I thought this model would take a long time to grow. But COVID forced people to adopt digital payments, and we can now see the government insisting on employing digital practices. Although certain segments where we did well in the past have seen major drops in terms of transactions, it didn’t negatively impact our business but doubled it.

Even in terms of new business acquisitions, it doubled. However, for this trend to continue, there needs to be an awareness that digital payments are the safer option over cash-on-delivery or direct transfer options.

With WEBXPAY, in case of a dispute for a customer, there are only two parties involved besides us; the customer’s bank/payment instrument wallet and/or the acquiring party. Merchants will have entered an agreement abiding them with certain international rules on service deliveries allowing a more sound experience for customers.

Creating awareness requires a lot of costs. This is where it’s good to have competitors, and while they may have better marketing, this will lead to a more accepting audience. I invite the policymakers, every element of the government, to promote the fact that digital payments are safe, a message that needs to come from the Central Bank too.

Digital payments will develop the economy to the point where more SME money will come into circulation. There will be a better record of SME finances, which would come in handy when SMEs want to borrow from banks, thus improving access to finance.