Clickatell CEO Pieter De Villiers

This week Clickatell is celebrating their twentieth anniversary in the business. Founded in Cape Town, South Africa by their now CEO Pieter de Villiers, his twin brother Casper, and two friends Danie du Toit and Patrick Lawson, the founders initially sought to create an application programming interface (API) between cellphones and computers.

In 2000, they successfully created the world’s first: four lines of code that created a way to send an SMS from the internet to cell phones. This made Clickatell the first company to connect the world’s fastest growing commerce platform – the internet – with the world’s fastest growing communications platform – the mobile phone.

The team introduced Clickatell’s chat capabilities in developing countries, including South Africa, where limited transportation infrastructure makes it difficult to shop and bank at stores and financial institutions, and a cell phone is the primary communication device. Their solutions were well-received.

Innovation crucial for survival

Clickatell CEO Pieter De Villiers believes a technology company does not survive and grow amidst two decades of technology disruptions if it does not continue to innovate.

Clickatell’s innovations include the launches of chat commerce, chat banking, and chat self-service solutions and products.

Over the years the company grew as their solutions were utilized by companies around the world and across industries for customer care, commerce, customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer expansion.

Clickatell is now headquartered in Silicon Valley in the USA, and has offices in Toronto, Canada, Cape Town, South Africa and Lagos in Nigeria.

Financial inclusion of the next billion

Clickatell notes that consumers spend 90% of their screen time on five mobile apps, and chat apps rank number one. “They prefer digital commerce experiences and expect to be able to buy goods and access services 24x7 from anywhere,” they say.

They also cite a recent Aberdeen research report, “Maximize the ROI of Chat in Commerce Activities,” which indicates that companies incorporating chat capabilities enjoy 75% greater year-over-year growth in annual revenue and 89% greater annual growth in cross-sell and up-sell revenue.

“Chat commerce is how availability for financial opportunities will unfold for the next billion people,” says de Villiers.

He adds that COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation across businesses around the world, including digital commerce, and people are embracing commerce via chat.

“The next billion people and millions of merchants will not be onboarded through websites, email, and point of sale devices, but through digital and chat commerce experiences,” de Villiers says.

Despite the pandemic, Clickatell says it is experiencing rapid growth and recently appointed Glen Braganza as CFO and Jennifer Shambroom as CMO. The veterans of fintech, payments, and the mobile ecosystem respectively bring substantial insight and leadership to position Clickatell for further growth, the company says.

In addition, Clickatell’s unique low/no code digital engagement and payment orchestration capabilities make it fast and easy for leading brands to deploy the company’s chat commerce experiences in minutes rather than days.

“We aim to grow by ten times in the next six years. A larger Clickatell can have a bigger and better impact in the world,” concluded de Villiers.

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