Financial IT speaks with Bashar Saleh, founder and CEO of PointCheckout.
Bashar Saleh is an entrepreneur, a technologist, and the founder and CEO of PointCheckout which is a payment method for reward points and miles allowing reward program members to spend and redeem their points at leading online and offline stores across the Middle East and North Africa. Bashar is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and prior to his entrepreneurial journey, he worked at BlackRock and Merrill Lynch in New York City.
Financial IT: Can you please provide brief information about PointCheckout and your background?
Bashar Saleh: PointCheckout is a payment method for reward points and miles allowing their members to spend and redeem their points directly at leading online and offline stores across the Middle East and North Africa. With PointCheckout, a reward program member can use his points towards booking a plane ticket, ordering a meal online, buying a new pair of sneakers, or even paying for a cup of coffee at their favorite corner coffee house. Where the customer does not have enough points to complete a transaction, they are also able to complement their purchase using cash or payment card.
PointCheckout has been successful in adding liquidity to the reward point market by creating a new redemption channel for using hard earned reward points and miles. Our redemption network continues to grow day-over-day and consumers are loving the new options given.
Financial IT: What makes PointCheckout unique among its competitors?
Bashar Saleh: PointCheckout differs from other redemption options available in the market today in simplicity, choices, and price. Customers are used to shopping in over-priced reward stores or having to rely on gift cards, each having its own shortfalls. The best reward stores never offer the price competitiveness found on the internet nor have the variety and choices needed for users to be satisfied. Gift cards do provide more choice and options for the users, but more often than not customers end up with a cumbersome experience and delays.
But what makes PointCheckout most unique is its ability to allow users to combine more than one reward program in a single purchase. Users can finally pay using the points of 2 or more programs in a single transaction, adding a lot more value to the reward programs and increasing customer satisfaction and engagement in the process.
Financial IT: What are the issues and challenges you are facing while providing the solution?
Bashar Saleh: The main issue market education. Over the past few months, we have been working towards educating both reward programs and customer alike of the advantages and benefits of joining the PointCheckout network. For reward programs, the benefits are clear, more engaged program members and lower operational costs in managing the redemption network. For customers, they are seeing more value from day one in having access to an abundance of choices and options across the various online stores where PointCheckout is accepted. Online stores are also loving PointCheckout as it provides them with means to cheaply access to thousands of reward program members in their target demographic.
Financial IT: What is market demand in the present time?
Bashar Saleh: We launched earlier this year and have had tremendous acceptance in our core markets. We have successfully launched in one market and will be launching in our second market over the next 2-3 months. We expect to be live in at least 4 countries within the next 9 months. Most demand is being driven by need to increase reward program engagement which in turn results in greater revenue for our reward program partners.
Financial IT: What is next for PointCheckout?
Bashar Saleh: We are focusing over the next few months on geographical expansion and product innovation. A number of offerings we are bringing to market would simplify and streamline the user onboarding process by introducing tools for reward programs to make redemption as easy as launching an app. Furthermore, we are focused on growing our merchant network by partnering up with a number of payment providers in the region to make accepting PointCheckout payments as easy as clicking a button.