Amer Qavi was a biomedical engineer designing artificial internal organs before he set up his own medical distribution business. After selling that off, he went on to create a fast food concept, and later created an office supplies trading company.
When he became bored with his last venture, Qavi – a self-described “serial entrepreneur” – took some time out to think up his next project and came up with SwipeZoom. “Out of everything I’ve done, this is the one I get up for in the morning,” he says.
With a global scope, it’s an ambitious project- a logistics and payment solution that allows e-commerce companies to ship their products around the world, from “anywhere to anywhere,” says Qavi. “It’s geo-agnostic.”
To do so, the platform has integrated with payment methods and global delivery services to offer shipment to 232 countries. On the payment side, it works with Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, AMEX, Diners, Discover, JCB, ELV, China Union Pay, iDEAL, as well as Barclays, and it has direct debit arrangements with 30 banks in Australasia. “We expect to add another 12 payment methods by the end of Q1 2013, to give us better coverage in Latin America and Asia,” says Qavi. It’s not a simple feat- bringing these partners on board and satisfying their regulatory processes has taken over a year.
SwipeZoom also works with DHL, UPS, and FedEx to provide delivery services, providing customs clearance, and notifying customers of duties ahead of time, with the option of prepaying in their preferred currency (of 108 currencies). SwipeZoom’s system automatically generates the necessary shipping documents as well, thanks to an extensive database of 5,000 shipping documents that they’ve compiled. “We’re taking the surprise out of finding a fee for an international cross border transaction,” says Qavi.
Its goal is to make global shipment as simple as possible by eliminating fraud and currency risks, and guaranteeing rates. “Basically, there is no redirect involved: when making a payment, customers never leave the retailers website,” explains Qavi. “We power international transactions where everything is picked up straight from the backdoor of the merchant and delivered to the front door of the customer.”
Since opening for operation in August, SwipeZoom has brought two European retailers on board – Portguese clothing line Salsa, and an Italian shoes and handbag brand. By the end of 2013, however, the platform will have targeted 150 international retailers. “There are a handful of companies who claim to offer similar services, notably the American company FiftyOne,” says Qavi. “They know how to ship to North America, but they only offer three payment methods, so if you’re sitting in Germany and don’t own a Visa, a Mastercard or an American Express, you’re out of luck.”
What differentiates the company from competitors is clearly its fully global scope. When asked if he intends to compete directly with Aramex, who recently integrated with PayPal for its Shop & Ship service, which allows customers to order items online from the U.S., U.K., and China via a forwarding system, Qavi replied, “I see SwipeZoom and Aramex/PayPal complementing each other, rather than competing. Aramex and PayPal are targeting consumers, while SwipeZoom targets online retailers. We enable retailers to sell directly from their website to international consumers.”
It’s a fine line- when it comes to the Middle East, both platforms make it easy for customers to purchase goods from abroad, but SwipeZoom is a solution that retailers around the globe can integrate with if they choose to serve a given market, while Shop & Ship gives consumers in the Arab world an option to broaden their purchasing options. At the end of the day, though, Qavi says, “we are both working to globalize ecommerce.”
While Qavi and a part of his team work out of Dubai, SwipeZoom operates worldwide from offices in London, New York City, Chicago, Palo Alto, and the British Virgin Islands. Their biggest challenge going forward might be marketing their product globally, as they aren't focused on a given region, but perhaps beginning in Europe and scaling from there will help spread word-of-mouth reputation.
“We haven’t limited our vision to inbound or outbound e-commerce trade from the Middle East,” Qavi says. “We’re very virtual. Tomorrow I could talk to a retailer in Brazil who wants to go global.”