“The right time to do what is right is always now,” says Ray Edison Refundo, co-founder and CEO of Qwikwire, a company designed to help simplify selling and billing for freelancers and Qwikwire merchants.
As a company specializing in cross-border e-commerce, Qwikwire provides people with no bank accounts or credit cards a solution in accepting payments for online transactions. The company’s goal is help Filipino freelancers participate in global e-commerce.
Refundo knows that being a freelancer in the Philippines can be frustrating. Filipino freelancers often use US-based services like Freelancer and oDesk. Based on his personal experience working on an online project, he had a hard time receiving payment online as he did not have a bank account and a credit card. International payment site PayPal requires those two item in order to receive payments.
Based on recent figures, only around 2.5 million people in the Philippines own either a Visa credit, debit, or prepaid card — under ten percent of the 38 million in the 25 to 54 age range. Seeing an opportunity, Ray called on his friends Scott Yu and Jason Foldi from the US, and together with another friend, Bing Tan, they set out to create a company that would enable more freelancers to reach the global marketplace.
Refundo and his partners envisioned Qwikwire to operate this way: service providers could sign-up in minutes and receive a payment within two hours after it is sent. PayPal takes two weeks in the Philippines to set up. The freelancers bill clients by simply sending a link, and clients then log onto Qwikwire to pay.
The money is then deposited in the freelancer’s bank account. If the freelancer doesn’t have one, an on-location pickup option will be made available. The bank account is optional, although users are still required to present their identification documents and a transaction code generated by Qwikwire, in accordance with local money laundering regulations.
Utilizing search engine data and social media results, Qwikwire’s system validates user identification right away, giving them access to a merchant account in their target market far more quickly than can be done through traditional channels.
Being a financial analyst also helps Refundo determine what works best for users of Qwikwire, whether freelancer or paying client. He holds a degree in Finance and Economics from San Jose State University in California.
His experience in doing finance-related work, such as tax preparation and market research taught him what to do and not to do with his present business ventures.
Refundo looks forward to a time when more options will be open to Filipino freelancers, as he helps develop more technologies to enable faster and more efficient transfer of payment from anywhere in the globe.
In the end, it’s all about empowering Filipino freelancers and giving them more freedom and choices in doing online business. Local professionals who find the typical office job too limiting now have an option to make a livelihood by getting into the global market.