As a golden partner, International Card System (CaSys) – the first and only payment processor in our country, is part of the virtual hackathon dedicated to reducing the shadow economy in e-commerce. We discussed the need for continuous education of traders on the benefits of e-commerce with the CEO of CaSys – Filomena Pljakovska-Asprovska. We also talked about raising customer awareness, as well as providing conditions and setting challenges for young people to stay and create solutions in their own country.
AETM: The global pandemic has contributed to the rapid growth of e-commerce in our country; companies were required to be agile, to adapt quickly and to face the challenges posed by digitalization. One of the challenges is the growing number of unregistered sellers who sell through social media and do not pay taxes and do not fulfill their other public duties. What is your opinion on this topic? Do you think that there is a sufficiently high level of awareness about the shadow economy and what steps do you think should be taken in the future in order to reduce its scope; can you suggest an idea for solving this problem?
Filomena: It is a fact that e-commerce has a high growth both in terms of the number of online transactions and the total realized value in e-commerce. During the pandemic alone, the number of newly opened e-shops globally increased by 70%. This growth is naturally transmitted in our country.
However, the number of unregistered sellers who sell through social networks has increased and apart from not paying taxes and other public duties, such unregistered sellers can definitely not offer secure and trusted e-commerce.
The flaws of unregistered sellers need to be constantly emphasized. Frequent examples of let down and deceived customers should be disclosed to raise awareness of the risks when buying from these sellers. Increased awareness and education of customers, and reduced purchasing from this type of sellers, will shorten the “life” and prevent the existence of these stores. Educating customers and using secure ways to shop with one-time passwords and a high level of authentication is the direction in which we should be focused.
AETM: Do you think that the existing development and simplicity of the payment system, especially in the field of e-commerce, taking into account all the available opportunities offered by Casys and the other two payment processors operating in the field of e-commerce, is enough to take advantage of legal operations versus entering the gray area, given that a large part of online sales are in the so-called gray area due to complex processes and high start-up costs online?
Filomena: CaSys currently covers about 70% of the Macedonian market in this segment. Market participation is an indicator of the success and reliability of our e-commerce solutions. We offer solutions, opportunities and capacities that can meet the needs of all commercial entities. We are continuously working on improving the current and introducing new functionalities, following the demands, needs and maturity of the market to absorb them.
It is important to note that given the highly sophisticated technologies, systems and security mechanisms present in the services we offer with our banks in the market, the costs of running an online business are very competitive regionally and globally.
Through continuous cooperation with our partner banks, we are committed to increasing the efficiency of the processes and reducing the costs for opening and running an e-store. We provide promotional periods for integration of traders with additional reduced costs. Especially during the last year, a big step was made, and the result is continuous growth of users, ie over 900 e-shops that use the e-commerce system of CaSys – cPay.
AETM: As a payment processor serving a total of three of the five banks that offer e-commerce as a service, your company has extensive experience in this area. Analyzing the world trends and good practice applied in other countries with which you cooperate, what do you consider is necessary to be applied in the domestic market in order to further reduce the attractiveness of working in the gray area, and at the same time to affect the further popularization of legal operations?
Filomena: I am glad that the experience and expertise of CaSys and our continuous contribution to improving the conditions for e-commerce in Macedonia are recognized. We invest in improving technology and introducing innovations, the team enhances its expert knowledge and we work on educating the population, of course in cooperation with partner banks and other stakeholders in the ecosystem, including the state.
Continuing to educate traders about the benefits of e-commerce and raising customer awareness are the two key aspects that need to be intensified.
This is where I will mention the initiatives of the E-Commerce Association last year, of which we were part, which aimed to stimulate, and especially educate, with the creation of the Ecommerce4all platform.
We held several e-commerce events with the banks aimed at e-traders and educating them about increasing the effects of online sales, improving the user experience and sustainability of the e-shop.
We have offered many new services aimed at our customers in the segments of digitalization of services on the one hand, but on the other hand these new services also contribute to increased employment, economic development of the country and growth of the level of competition. Through the development of fair competition, the challenge of popularizing legal ethics will be addressed, which in turn will contribute to the reduction of the shadow economy.
AETM: This year is the first hackathon dedicated to the shadow economy – “Hack the gray economy in e-commerce” which is supported by CaSys as a gold partner. The students who will be part of the hackathon will work on solutions that will contribute to reducing and combating the shadow economy. What points were key for CaSys to decide to support this hackathon?
Filomena: This is another initiative of the E-Commerce Association that we welcome, support and in which we are actively involved. Synergy has been proven to bring good results. As a Company we are proud to support this event and we are always ready to stimulate initiatives that contribute to the development of business processes in the right direction. In our opinion, we should always strive to invest in the economy, business, innovation and science through support and education of young people. Young people need to be provided with conditions and challenges to stay here, to create for their own country. They are a key driver in all spheres of society and every day there are new projects and initiatives from them. We invest in human capital and our tendency is continuous professional development of our current and potential future employees in the company.
AETM: As an expert who actively advocates for the promotion of non-cash payment in our country, what are your expectations from this hackathon that motivates the participants to come up with creative solutions that address a real and significant problem in our country? What would you recommend to students regarding solving the challenges; in their place, what aspect of the shadow economy would you cultivate and develop?
Filomena: I have no doubt that many creative solutions will emerge from the participants in this hackathon. The recommendation to them and to all those involved in the field of e-commerce is continuous monitoring of security trends, especially cyber trends and threats that are current and that should definitely be controlled. Reliable, modern and affordable solutions are needed, with effective and efficient capacities for cyber security, protection and prevention in order to strengthen trust, accessibility and legal certainty.
AETM: After the hackathon, will CaSys be available and open for cooperation with the participants (students) from the Faculty of Economics – Skopje and FINKI for further development of their creative solutions that will arise from the two challenges of the hackathon through internships or possible employment to those students who will meet the criteria of your company?
Filomena: Of course, we are always in the mood for cooperation and to all students who have a desire for professional development, training and participation in creative solutions, CaSys has its doors open for them. CaSys is a company where you can learn and improve the essence of electronic payments, which can serve as a basis for further development of innovations and solutions.
CaSys’ management team is actively involved in strategic human resource planning and we as a company strive for long-term planning. The continuous growth and development of the activity in which we work, creates a need for employees who are ready to constantly upgrade their skills and knowledge, and to be ready for their integration into successful business solutions.