What started out as a thesis project for HEC Paris Master Degree program, ended up becoming a business based out of Qatar. CWallet is one of the very first startups in Qatar to utilize blockchain technology for its payment features, remittance, and payroll service.
UNLOCK spoke with Michael Javier, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, of CWallet to learn more. Michael explains at the age of 40, he decided to become an entrepreneur and used his thesis project alongside his Qatari Master’s team and friends to create CWallet.
CWallet Blockchain Fintech Startup
CWallet is a FinTech startup born and raised in Qatar. He states, “ We are building the first mobile application that will provide payments, remittance and payroll services helping to bring on financial inclusion especially for expats in the region and globally.”
While the globe is supporting cashless societies, many expats in the region still use traditional modes for sending money or paying for items. CWallet wants to change this by providing a digital wallet where money can be sent instantaneously cross borders as well as used to pay for groceries, taxes, utilities etc.. CWallet is built on Stellar blockchain network. Javier explains, “We chose Stellar because it is one of the strong decentralized distribution networks that facilitate cross border payments and payments in general. While we don’t use cryptocurrencies yet and as such Stellar is just a secure transaction record ledger, Stellar is a platform that is ready to take on crypto once it becomes regulated in the region and globally.”
Javier believes Stellar has a lot of advantages over other blockchain networks. He states, “First is offers real-time settlement and is regulatory compliant when it comes to KYC AML, it is also Shariaa compliant which is important, and allows micropayments, plus it has a highly secure decentralized consensus protocol.”
Investment and Support:
From the onset CWallet received much support and encouragement from Qatar incubators and governmental entities. Javier explains, “We received support from the Digital Incubation Center, Qatar Business incubation center and Qatar Science and technology Park. These three entities played a big role in CWallet whether from mentoring side or funding. With this we were able to first raise over 500,000 USD in grants and in kind support.”
CWallet of course does not want to stop here but wants to expand across the entire GCC region. The funds raised so far allowed them to invest in the technology and the tremendous support of the Qatari government will inspire entrepreneurs believes Javier.
Javier adds, “We just closed another investment round of six digits bringing our total investments now to 1 million USD. First Qatar Fintech hub gave us 110,000 USD after we won the Hackathon and the rest from other investors. This is not official yet but can be shared as it is final.”
Of course this won’t be the last time CWallet will raises funds, They have a valuation of 2 million USD and in the next six months hope to raise the other 1 million USD in pre seed rounds. Of the 1 million USD, 800,000 USD was cash and 200,000 in kind. As Javier comments, “Our goal is to acquire more merchants and customers, once we reach growth stage we will go into Series-A investment round where investments reach 20 million USD.”
Already CWallet is doing well and have signed up paying merchants and customers. They continue to work on attaining the need regulations for cross border remittance, payments and payroll service. CWallet needs to be regulated by Qatar Central Bank and has already applied to the sandbox. Javier says, “It is important to be regulated because it is then that you can protect the consumer. The sandbox is our gateway to regulation which will enable us to carry out cross border payments and payroll feature.”
Javier has no doubt that there is much competition in this space, yet he is confident that CWallet will one day be bought by bigger players. As he explains, “We have a local flavor to us and are trusted in Qatar so in some sense we are stronger than ApplePay and SamsungPay in Qatar because it is our jurisdiction. Most recently we were contacted by ANT Financial interested in learning more about our offering, so our journey it to establish ourselves and prove our essence and mission then get acquired by a bigger player and grow our technology. This is the goal of most startups and hopefully we can achieve it.
Finally as an alternative payment provider CWallet seeks to empower individuals giving them control over their finances and more aware of them. The banks of the future will be in the wallets of individuals who can later on carry out micro financing, lending, peer to peer payments from the convenience of their digital wallet.