Hamed Shah­bazi


BC Business Magazine - - To Do -

Hamed Shah­bazi spent 20 years build­ing the Van­cou­ver-based fin­tech startup he founded, Tio Net­works, but of­fi­cially went from en­tre­pre­neur to cor­po­rate em­ployee this past sum­mer. Sil­i­con Val­ley gi­ant Pay­pal Hold­ings Inc. bought his bill-pay­ment-pro­cess­ing com­pany for $302 mil­lion in July. Shah­bazi has stepped down as Tio’s chief ex­ec­u­tive to take on two new ti­tles: vice-pres­i­dent of Pay­pal’s bill-pay­ment ser­vice and the gen­eral man­ager for Pay­pal Canada’s bill-pay­ment ser­vice. Al­though his name­plate may change, he’ll keep run­ning Tio as a sep­a­rate unit within Pay­pal.

Don’t ex­pect Shah­bazi to switch off his en­tre­pre­neur­ial drive. He sees the deal as an op­por­tu­nity to lever­age Pay­pal’s re­sources and reach to turn his U.s.-cen­tric busi­ness into a global one. “For me, the big­gest part of this was im­pact,” Shah­bazi says of the changes he an­tic­i­pates. “Whether it’s the Pay­pal name, brand, bal­ance sheet, net­work size—it just gives us a huge plat­form to go out there and make a big­ger im­pact.”

Be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is the only work Shah­bazi has re­ally known. Days after he grad­u­ated from UBC in 1997 with a de­gree in civil en­gi­neer­ing, he started the busi­ness that would be­come Tio. At first, his com­pany in­stalled In­ter­net kiosks in shop­ping cen­tres so cus­tomers could stop to browse or check their email while run­ning er­rands.

In­ter­net ac­cess was grow­ing to be­come widely avail­able, so Shah­bazi piv­oted around 2002 to make bill­pay­ment kiosks in­stead. The ma­chines of­ten serve peo­ple who don’t use tra­di­tional banks, let­ting them pay their util­i­ties, phone and ca­ble bills

in lo­ca­tions like drug­stores and gas sta­tions. Tio added mo­bile and web plat­forms to keep ad­vanc­ing with tech­nol­ogy. The com­pany has part­nered with some of the big­gest tele­com and util­ity providers in the U.S., such as AT&T Inc. and Pa­cific Gas and Elec­tric Co., as well as re­tail­ers like Wal­greens Boots Al­liance Inc. Tio pro­cessed more than US$7 bil­lion worth of con­sumer bill pay­ments in fis­cal 2016 and serves 16 mil­lion con­sumer bill-pay ac­counts. —D.H.

WHAT DID YOUR SUM­MER JOBS TEACH YOU ABOUT BUSI­NESS? Hus­tle. You see just how much you have to work to make a buck. Ev­ery­thing takes ef­fort


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