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PayGate: Robin Philip, David Beukes and Peter Harvey

A global payment gateway has served local and international clients on five continents for more than 14 years.

Monique Verduyn




PayGate, an intermediary between online retailers and banks in online shopping transactions, was founded by online payments trailblazer Peter Harvey in 1999. Business has been good for the company which recorded its best month of trading at the end of 2012.

It has a large number of online merchants as clients, among them airlines, universities, Woolworths, iTickets and accommodation booking websites.

Harvey’s experience in running the IT for a direct marketing music club gave him the idea for a solution that would make it easier for online merchants to get paid. “I studied computer programming at Wits Technicon and then got a BCom with majors in economics, business economics and computer science from UNISA,” Harvey says.

“My first job was at Trust Bank as a computer programmer and then I moved through various consulting positions, first as a programmer and then project manager, until I became the IT manager at Club Music Direct which was launched in the mid 90s at the start of the e-commerce boom. It was a very dynamic and energetic company, ideally positioned to leverage off the huge e-commerce growth which was happening at the time. I learnt a lot about selling in a non-retail environment, distribution and the challenges merchants faced to get paid when the client was not present at the point of sale.”

Spotting the gap

Club Music Direct was sold to Naspers in the late 90s. Based on his experiences with payment processing, Harvey decided to start a company focused on helping online retailers get paid easily, securely and reliably via the Internet. He financed the business with money borrowed from family and friends.

Today, PayGate offers merchants a variety of different ways to get paid via the Internet. These include debit card, credit card, voucher, EFT and an economical and innovative way to get paid via EFT in different currencies.

“Fraud is always a challenge for merchants selling products and services on the Internet so we offer a fraud and risk screening service,” says Harvey. “But what really differentiates the company is reliability of sales and service. Our IT team is 100% focused on system reliability and uptime. If our systems go down, even for a few minutes, our merchants lose money. Our service is the best in the industry. We help every new merchant through the daunting process of signing up with a bank for a credit or debit card merchant account. Once a merchant is loaded on the PayGate system they have easy access to email and telephonic support.”

Harvey says one of the keys to PayGate’s success is that the company understands the needs of its clients. “We deliver effective merchant services that have the power to simplify seemingly complex problems. This contributes to our solid market leadership in the continuously evolving online payments arena.

Because we are consistently ahead of the game, our clients can be certain they have the competitive edge they need in their business.”

Overcoming challenges

It was difficult to raise capital for PayGate in the early days. “Few people understood the Internet properly and knew what a payment gateway was,” Harvey recalls. “Over the years we’ve had a variety of different shareholders in the business. Cleaning up and optimising the shareholding for growth took a lot of time and effort.  We’ve never borrowed money so our growth has been totally organic. We had to build systems to make money to fund the development of new systems. I don’t think I’d use this approach again.”

Key lessons learnt

Harvey cautions that organic growth is a slow and painful exercise. “Try to get a venture capital partner on board who can add value to the business in addition to the capital investment. The worst mistake I ever made was not getting venture capital funding to grow the business.”

Growth highlights

Dialup access to the Internet was slow and cumbersome in the 90s and early 2000s. When ADSL came along, PayGate’s growth doubled and doubled again as more people suddenly had easy and reliable access to the Internet.

“We are seeing a similar growth spurt now as mobile data bandwidth becomes cheaper and tablets and smartphones become more prevalent,” says Harvey. “The arrival of ADSL and mobile devices have been the two tipping points for the business. Everybody has access to the Internet and more and more people are starting to enjoy shopping online. Our goal now is to remain the top online payment intermediary on the continent.”

Vital stats

Players:  Robin Philip, David Beukes and Peter Harvey

Company: PayGate

Launched: 1999

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Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

Prev1 of 26

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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