Co-founder of Spades, a UAE-based payment solution, advises startups against “aggressive customer acquisition” – Technology


Adnan Haque, co-founder of a contactless payment solution used in some 200 restaurants in the United Arab Emirates, believes startups that add value to a consumer’s life will last in Pakistan, arguing against aggressive acquisition of customers. His remarks come against the backdrop of tough times for the startup space in Pakistan.

Speaking to Asma Mustafa on Aaj News’ In the Arena, Haque said a company will succeed if it “ends up creating a new type of industry or helps an industry, as long as there is tapering growth” .

On the other hand, he thinks that “companies that spend aggressively to acquire customers are the ones that end up suffering the most”.

“Of course you’re a start-up, you want to show how disruptive you are and you want to show how you can grow very quickly, but not at a cost that will end up affecting hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

He said that in Pakistan, there are a lot of opportunities to add value in the technology sector and even in the brick and mortar fields “as long as it is measured growth”. In the interview, Haque also talked about growing up in Lahore and London, studying in Canada and the United States, before ending up in the United Arab Emirates.

“When I came here, I was working for a small private equity team. What I fell in love with was the fact that this country offered opportunities to literally anyone and everyone.

“And I think that was the greatest calling for me. The people who live in the UAE are absolutely blessed to have a country that supports them, provides them with opportunities, has the right processes and the infrastructure in place. place to help people like me succeed.

He added that it is one of the best places in the world to do business.

“I’ve done (business) in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Canada. Each market has its own advantages and disadvantages. But I think this hub is designed to help businesses grow and grow.

“There’s a lot of government support to help businesses get set up and started, and then obviously there’s benefits from a tax perspective… you’re basically helping people who come from developing countries get set up here or even from Western countries to come and develop their brand. There is security, there is security.

Haque ended up launching Spades, a payment solution, in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year with a $2.5 million investment from European angel investors.

Spades is an online payment solution for restaurants and customers with the aim of improving the dining experience.

Users scan the QR code on their table to view their bill, split it, add service charges, and make payment from their phone without the need for a server or even an app.

The idea is to make payments easier for customers and free up time for servers to focus on other tasks.

The fintech payment startup signed over 150 restaurants in its first 12 weeks and launched with major brands in the UAE such as NOLA, Couqley, Alaca and The Sum of Us.

Haque started the company with Mehdi Chraibi and Sameer Poonja who between them had successful careers building digital products for Visa, Emirates Airline, Oracle, Millicom and Rocket Internet.

The team is supported by executives in leadership positions at global payment service providers, including Visa and MasterCard, as well as cloud kitchens and several hospitality houses.

“The beauty is that we’re fully integrated,” Haque said, referring to Spades.

“We integrate with the POS ordering system…usually on a busy night, when you want to leave, you chase the waiter for the bill.”

But with Spades, the whole checkout process can take “less than 10 seconds”.

“And especially from a service perspective, they might serve desserts or give someone a nightcap, but instead what they do is they stand in front of a machine and try to collect payment from four people who are themselves arguing over who pays what. So that’s really our main problem.

But that’s not all, he says.

“We are giving staff time back not only to go and provide better service, but to get home faster. And in some cases, the system has even tripled the tips servers receive.

Speaking about future plans, Haque said that Spades will be launched in Saudi Arabia and there are plans to come to Pakistan as well.

“Pakistan is definitely part of our roadmap, that’s for sure. I think the population is hungry for technology like this.

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Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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