Zatiq wants to simplify accounting for SMEs, but it’s easier said than done

September 15, 2023

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Zatiq’s founders built a calculator-like device where small businesses could record their transactions, maintain their accounts and manage their inventory. The product, on trial, came across unforeseen challenges.

Zatiq Payment started its journey in 2022, with an idea to digitise the payment system of small businesses throughout the country. Its founders came up with the ‘clever’ idea of building a calculator-like device where small businesses could record their transactions, maintain their accounts and manage their inventory. They could operate the device through an app on their phones.

Clever ideas have a way of encountering unforeseen challenges in the real world. And that happened to Zatiq’s device as well.

Firstly, they faced tech literacy issues — most small business owners did not have the skills or the willingness to learn how to operate the device. Then, the product team ran into another problem: the original calculator could store only up to 50,000 transactions.

“We had to put in a memory card slot so that more transactions can be added,” said Sultan Moni, one of the founders.

That was not all. The founders soon realised some people might only want the calculator, and not the phone app, so they had to put in a SIM card slot as well.

The calculator is currently on its third iteration and is slated for launch later this year. For this version, rather than teaching the users to adapt to a new technology, they opted for a model where the target customers did not have to learn anything new.

Zatiq is currently offering services such as POS software, tableside QR, business accounting and inventory management. But its priority at the moment is the tab-keeping calculator and a Bluetooth receipt printer, which also stores transactions and sends a QR code to the customer.

Citing the example of neighbouring India, Sultan mentioned how PayTm has a sound box that makes a noise every time a transaction is successful, giving the user of the system the assurance that the payment has gone through.

Zatiq is also trying to introduce a similar feature in its calculator.

The calculator also has a “baki” (due) option. In Bangladesh, putting purchases on your tab is not just something you do in a bar; rather, local grocery shops and corner stores are the biggest tab keepers.

With the Zatiq calculator, these tabs can be digitised, keeping everything transparent between the merchant and the customer.

“We design and make products that are so simple to use that it doesn’t require training. If it requires training, our product isn’t ready yet,” said Sultan.

Sultan said that the business calculator would also help MSMEs to apply for loans. Since the transactions are all digitised and shared with designated banks, it becomes easier for the applicant to receive loans and there is less paperwork involved.

Zatiq has also recently soft launched its Bluetooth receipt printer. Padma Telecom at Motaleb Plaza and Busy Door at Multiplan Plaza, traditional shops in the way they manually handle their receipts and stocks, are using the printers.

Both the proprietors Imran from Padma and Salman from Busy Door explained that it had been seamless for them to transition from handwritten paper receipts to the printer. As they can operate the printer through their phone, it serves as a handy tool for them.

The added bonus is that now both shops spend less time taking stock; stocks can be added to the printer’s database, which readjusts after every receipt is printed. Each receipt comes with a QR code that helps the user track their spending digitally.

Zatiq’s Bluetooth printer is priced at Tk6,000. They are yet to set the price for the calculator.

Born out of necessity

When Sultan Moni was visiting Bangladesh from Canada in 2021, he was having trouble using his international cards. He realised that outside of Gulshan and Banani, it was difficult paying for things unless he was carrying cash. After realising there was a gap in the market, Sultan sought to set up a business in Bangladesh that could solve these payment issues.

He was already working on a grocery delivery app in Canada. So the principles of setting up a payment business were already within his grasp. He later shared that idea with the current Chief Operating Officer, Mumtahina Anika, whose background is in banking and finance, and the current Chief Technical Officer Fahim Al Mahmud, who is a software engineer by trade.

Recently, Zatiq managed to secure $1.6 million in pre-seed funding through Dekko ISHO Venture Capital, and local and foreign angel investors. Sultan Moni and Mumtahina Anika said they were looking for an interface already known to the local market. Hence they’re focusing on the calculator.

Zatiq currently has orders for a few countries outside of Bangladesh, but they are currently focused on the Bangladeshi market. Once they roll out the products here, they plan to focus on overseas business.

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