Two startups from the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster have raised over $10 million in investment in their devices designed to make carrying out everyday tasks more convenient.
ComfortWay, which provides travellers with access to mobile networks at local prices, said it had raised 6 million euros ($6.7 million) from a pool of European telecom companies and private investors, while PayQR, which allows users to pay for goods and services via mobile devices, is to receive 300 million rubles ($3.9 million) from Sergei Kozlovsky, president of the Incom property company.
PayQR allows users to pay for goods and services via their mobile device. Photo: PayQR.
ComfortWay’s Virtual SIM Card project is an app that allows users to select a data plan from any local mobile operator, making mobile internet access and calls available at local prices in 105 countries around the world, including the US, China and all EU countries, without having to buy a new SIM card every time.
“The 6 million euros in investment were raised from a pool of European telecom companies and private investors, with active assistance and consulting help from the Skolkovo Investment Service,” said Oleg Pravdin, CEO of ComfortWay.
The Skolkovo Investment Service works with venture capital funds and business angels to secure funding for the foundation’s resident startups.
Pravdin said the money would be put toward expanding the coverage of ComfortWay’s services, launching sales in Europe and Asia and building cooperation with major strategic partners in the telecom, IT and travel industries.
The commercial launch of the ComfortWay Virtual SIM Card, whose technology corresponds to the Remote SIM Provisioning standard approved last year by the GSM Association of mobile operators, is planned for this spring, starting with the Russian, European and Asian markets. The company currently offers other devices enabling access to local mobile operators.
“ComfortWay technology is a unique innovative product that offers both business travellers and tourists a new level of freedom,” said Igor Bogachev, a vice president of Skolkovo and the head of its IT cluster.
“Paying local prices for mobile services will enable users to make significant savings when travelling and allow them to use high-quality mobile internet wherever they are in the world,” he added.
A slide from a presentation of ComfortWay.
Meanwhile, PayQR, an app that allows users to pay communal services bills via their mobile devices, as well as to pay online, in shops and restaurants, is to get nearly $4 million.
Investor Kozlovsky told Kommersant newspaper: “We’re lagging behind the West in the financial sphere, and we need to catch up. I haven’t seen anything more convenient than this technology, and I believe PayQR has great potential.”
The app allows users to scan an invoice using their device and pay from an account linked to the device. The financing will be spent on marketing, developing the company and increasing its value, PayQR’s co-founder Gleb Markov told Sk.ru.
“Printed invoices are sent to nearly all smartphone users; it’s enough to look in your letterbox,” he said. “They get communal services bills, energy and water bills, traffic fines, tax inspectorate notifications and so on. So all we have to do is inform everyone that they can pay these bills without filling in their details online – therefore risking an error occurring – and without standing in line in banks or at cash machines and payment terminals.”
Work on the PayQR project began about three years ago, and the Moscow-based company became a Skolkovo resident early last year.
“Offering a solution to real day-to-day problems is the most reliable way to attract customers, and this significant investment in PayQR is yet further confirmation of the commercial potential and quality of the technology of our resident working in the very relevant sphere of financial technologies,” said Pavel Novikov, head of cloud and financial technologies within Skolkovo’s IT cluster.
Skolkovo’s 1,432 resident startups have attracted more than 13.6 billion rubles ($176 million) in investment in total.