Manila’s UberEATS is Win-Win for Customers and Merchants

PaidUp allows customers to get freebies while also helping merchants

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BY Melissa G. Bagamasbad - 22 Mar 2017

UberEATS Manila

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

What if you could get to your favorite milk tea and truffle fries without standing in line for 30 minutes and without having to carry all that cash in your wallet? These are just some of the conveniences that PaidUp, an app based in Manila, Philippines, has provided for users.

PaidUp is a mobile phone app enabling users to get more from their favorite stores by paying upfront in return for exclusive discounts, freebies, and rewards. In exchange, merchants get more customers and revenue by strengthening their relationships with top fans.

Likened to UberEATS—an online meal ordering and delivery platform with headquarters in San Francisco, California—PaidUp also enables customers to order food and drinks on-the-go and save time by no longer having to wait in line. 

Founded in early 2016 by Asim Haneef, PaidUp currently has 100+ partner restaurants, coffee shops, wellness and beauty establishments across Manila. According to, food and beverage is just one of the industries PaidUp wants to tap into as the app plans to expand to other services as early as June 2017. By December 2017, it hopes to launch in Singapore. Below are some lessons shared by founder Haneef on what has made PaidUp succeed despite being a young enterprise:


1. Think of what people need

Haneef was traveling in developing countries when the idea for PaidUp struck him, as told in this Inc. Southeast Asia article. “The idea was born out of the problem I observed in developing countries all over the world: Small and medium businesses experiencing difficulty getting access to credit so they could grow and flourish. I wondered why these businesses couldn't use technology to bypass banks and traditional lending institutions by crowdfunding investment and working capital directly from their own customers,” he says.

Haneef adds that PaidUp is far more than just a delivery service. “That's just one element, and it's almost an unforeseen spin-off,” he says. “I like to see those services as different parts of a jigsaw puzzle, but nobody's connecting as many parts as we aim to with payments, pick-up, lending and analytics, etc. We didn't set out to make a service that lets users skip the line and conveniently order-on-the-go, but we did build it into our service quickly when we sensed demand from customers.” 


2. Expand your horizons

Some might wonder why Haneef, who is UK-born and raised, established his start-up in the Philippines. “The people of the Philippines are some of the kindest, warmest, and most joyous people I've ever met,” he says. “And the country is developing fast with millions of small businesses needing support, access to credit, and certain digital tools to grow and succeed.” Haneef also says that English is widely spoken in the country and people are addicted to their mobile phones. “A number of these factors made it a good place to start building the service,” he says.


3. Be close to your customers

Exposed to a youthful market, PaidUp is used by elementary school teachers like Ella Perez, a teacher in Ateneo Grade School. Perez says she loves using the app because she gets free meals and drinks whenever she loads. “It also saves me the hassle of lining up because I can just simply order online,” she says.

Perez has been using the app since last year, and some freebies she has claimed include a free chicken meal, pesto pasta with chicken, fries with lechon sisig (roast pig skin bits), chocolate cake, and iced tea, among others. According to Perez, Haneef has been hands-on. She met the founder during a PaidUp event at the school she teaches in. He also emailed her to inform her that she is one of their top customers, to ask her which restaurants to add, and invite her to future events.


4. Persevere and never give up

As cliché as it sounds, Haneef says that PaidUp has gone through many challenges but they have learned to overcome them. “Everything that could go wrong did,” he says. “Building a start-up in an emerging market like this is like a series of crises but I always say, starting a business and [an] app is really just about constant problem solving 24/7.” Haneef stays positive and says that the challenges are blessings and the more problems they face and solve, the further they go that someone else hasn't been. “I've never made an app, and have decided to bootstrap everything myself so there's numerous technical difficulties,” he says. “But the key is to learn and grow.” 

Haneef says that PaidUp is composed of a very lean, agile start-up with a small team that believes in prototyping and iteration. “So yes, we experience problems daily but staying close to our end users and 100+ restaurant partners helps us to quickly solve the problems that come up so end users have a smooth experience using the app.”