Anish Jain, WadzPay’s Singapore-based managing director and CEO Chief, lives and breathes payments. At American Express and Mastercard, he rapidly rose through the ranks holding posts that included client general manager and vice president. His success at those companies was noticed in the payments world, but at the height of his career, Anish shocked the industry by leaving Mastercard to pursue his own interests.
As a serial entrepreneur, after making an impact on other companies, Anish wanted to create his own legacy. The startup journey was difficult, with many twists and turns along the way. There were times when he wanted to give up, but his tenacity, belief in his vision and intimate knowledge of the payments space led to the success and recognition of WadzPay.
From traditional to blockchain-based payments
Having been at the forefront of the electronic payments revolution and the e-commerce boom, Anish recognized that blockchain-based digital currency payments have the opportunity to herald a new payments revolution. While the user experience for payments was better than ever, the backend for payments ran on archaic legacy infrastructure, leading to significant costs and slow processing speeds that left a large percentage of the global population off the financial grid.
Legacy payment systems are not interoperable: This creates difficulties in communication between various architectures such as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) and Automated Clearing House (ACH). It is akin to having one train line, with the train having to change carriages at every station, as the tracks are different widths.
Blockchain-based payment architecture has the opportunity to simplify this by ushering in an opportunity to upgrade legacy systems, banking the underbanked and unbanked while reducing operating costs for businesses and cutting out multiple third parties from the payments hierarchy. Through smart design, it can also bridge all these incompatible tracks and create universal conditions for seamless payment processing.
Anish Jain’s first blockchain startup, Wadz, failed
Combining his experience in payments and the founding team’s knowledge of blockchain, Anish set upon his mission to revolutionise the payments system and move it into the 21st century: Wadz was founded in 2018.
The idea for Wadz was relatively simple yet complex in execution. The team set about creating a digital currency payments ecosystem, acquiring large merchant networks and launching a digital currency wallet product that would allow anyone, anywhere, to pay in any digital currency. This was primarily a business-to-consumer model.
Then the digital currency market crashed. Despite that, the company persisted, but once the global pandemic shut down Singapore and the world, the company struggled to keep afloat.
Anish tried to keep the company above water for months, but the debts kept mounting. Like many startup founders, Anish tried to keep his personal savings separate from company funds, but the fine line soon blurred as he had to dig into savings to pay salaries and business expenses. After more months with a lack of revenue and investment, it seemed like all was lost. In the darkest period of his life, vendors could not be paid, and something he took close to his heart: Employees could not be paid.
There was an easy way out, an option suggested by advisors and legal consultants — declare bankruptcy and forfeit on unpaid salaries, debts and investor returns. However, giving up would not only have been morally wrong but would also mean that he would not be able to carry on his vision, leaving former employees in the red.
Anish took the more difficult option of paying off all liabilities and salaries for which all government bodies in Singapore have cleared Wadz, including the Ministry of Manpower and Central Provident Fund Board, from his personal assets.
This is the first part of the story. You can find chapter two by clicking here.