Vancouver’s Payfirma unites in-store and online payments

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In Michael Gokturk’s office, there’s a guitar on a stand and a picture of Darth Vader on the wall. There’s also a chessboard on his coffee table.

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“It’s a game of logic,” the founder and CEO of Payfirma told the Georgia Straight in an interview at his company’s headquarters in downtown Vancouver. “I love logic. I love problem-solving.”

Established in 2011, Payfirma is a technology company that offers businesses a “multi-channel payment solution”. PayHQ, released in 2013, allows merchants to process in-store, online, and mobile credit-card payments all on the same “low barrier to entry” platform.

On May 15, Payfirma was celebrated as one of B.C.’s 25 most innovative tech companies at DigiBC’s NextBC showcase. In August, Gokturk is slated to speak at the GROW conference in Whistler.

According to Gokturk, Payfirma boasts just under 3,000 customers, has handled close to 10 million transactions, and is processing nearly $1 billion a year. Merchants pay Payfirma a two-percent fee on every transaction.

Local businesses using PayHQ include 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Cartems Donuterie, and Earnest Ice Cream.

“No longer are businesses just confined to a little boutique in Gastown,” Gokturk said. “He’s got the boutique in Gastown, some customers walk in, he’s got a website, and he’s got a mobile environment. So, effectively we enable those kinds of businesses to process transactions using one account. Typically, all over the world, they have to piecemeal it, if they want multiple channels.”

Payfirma’s apps and card readers turn smartphones and tablets into mobile point-of-sale terminals. There’s also a web-browser-based interface for processing in-person sales and phone, fax, and mail orders.

The system can handle recurring payments like Netflix subscriptions, and offers real-time reporting so merchants can analyze transaction trends.

Gokturk asserted that consumers like Payfirma’s mobile point-of-sale products too, because they bring an Apple Store-like experience to any shop using them.

“Now it’s no more waiting in lines, no more having to chase down someone to check us out or standing at a counter,” Gokturk said. “It’s the ability to check out wherever you are in the store, not have to be handed off to another person at the till, to be able to check out with the person that helped you. It’s really about speeding up that checkout process.”

PayHQ is available for iPhone and iPad.

While Bitcoin has been making lots of headlines, Gokturk maintained that there is “no demand” from Payfirma’s customers for the digital currency to be integrated into PayHQ.

“Right now, they’re not asking for Bitcoin,” Gokturk said. “Accordingly, we’ll focus our development efforts on things they are asking for.”

Payfirma recently expanded its office to cover half of a floor in the HSBC Building. The company is planning to hire 37 people to add to its staff of 50.

“Our end game is to create an enduring, lasting, great company,” Gokturk said. “If we get acquired or if we go public, that’s in the future. We’re not really focused on that today. We’re focused on making the product great and continuing to expand across the world.”

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