‘Crisis breeds innovation’: Tapioca Delight launches new online payment system


Tapioca Delight is spearheading change in Papua New Guinea, by becoming the first SME to start accepting online credit and debit card payments via Bank South Pacific’s internet payment gateway. Gabriella Munoz speaks with owner Ginia Sialis to find out more.

Tapioca Delight’s popular caramel cupcakes. Credit: Tapioca Delight

‘Crisis breeds innovation,’ says Tapioca Delight’s owner Ginia Sialis, who, after facing redundancy eight years ago, started the company with her husband, Sioni.

The COVID-19 state of emergency has hit small enterprises hard in PNG, but Ginia has a new innovation that goes hand in hand with the new social distancing measures – Tapioca Delight is the first SME in the country to accept online payments.

‘This is a trying phase that every business owner is going through and it is rough, but as an entrepreneur you have to adapt,’ she says.

Ginia learnt this lesson in 2012 when she spent K40 to bake a tapioca cake that she cut into slices to sell to her colleagues. The success was immediate and when she lost her full-time job, she spent her redundancy package on an industrial oven, chiller and car for deliveries.

In 2013, the Sialis took out an SME Smart Business Loan with Bank South Pacific (BSP) and paid it off in 2014. ‘Tapioca Delight was invited to be the face of the BSP’s product in 2014, which we were delighted to accept because it meant Tapioca Delight was featured all over the Pacific region at BSP branches and ATMs,’ she says.

‘Through IPG, dollars from around the world are coming into the PNG economy.’

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Fast forward to 2020 and the cakes, cupcakes and corporate catering company joined forces with BSP one more time to become the first SME in PNG to use BSP’s internet payment gateway (IPG) on their website. This allows Tapioca Delight to accept credit and debit card payments online.

‘As with any new product, and one as new as IPG, these are unchartered waters in PNG. It took the team a few years to have the IPG launched and ready for use,’ says Sialis. ‘We are very proud to stand by our bank, BSP, and to see this new technology roll out. The face of business in PNG will never be the same – this is revolutionary!’

The gateway system comes at a time when social distancing is a must and companies need to find new ways to thrive online. Ginia says that since the launch of the online payment system, Tapioca Delight has received cake and cupcakes orders from PNG, Australia and New Zealand. ‘Through IPG, dollars from around the world are coming into the PNG economy,’ she adds.

A taste of the future

Ginia and her husband co-founded Tapioca Delight in 2012. Credit: Tapioca Delight

Sydney-based Papua New Guinean web developer Samson Korowali has been working with the Sialis on this project since 2017.

‘As a Papua New Guinean, he understands the local business environment and because he is based in Sydney, he is also accustomed to cutting-edge technology and how payment platforms work overseas,’ Sialis explains.

Korowali is working on other technology-based projects, such as the online educational platform Reelae; the Sialis, on the other hand, are spearheading change by helping Papua New Guineans adapt to new technologies.

‘With the internet becoming faster and cheaper, and more people getting VISA debit cards and Mastercard cards from their banks in PNG, IPG will be the new normal way of making payments.’

‘This is a very convenient way of paying but it needs customers to get used to the system. Eventually, the PNG consumer will begin looking for IPG payments on business websites, as it is more convenient than other forms of payment,’ says Sialis.

‘With the internet becoming faster and cheaper, and more people getting VISA debit cards and Mastercard cards from their banks in PNG, IPG will be the new normal way of making payments.’

Giving back to the community

Tapioca Delight’s staff is receiving top qualifications in the industry. Credit: Tapioca Delight

Tapioca Delight’s first employee was the Sialis’s haus meri (domestic worker), Rosa, and over the years the company has employed another eight women, including one of Rosa’s daughters.

The staff has developed skills in baking, cake decoration, preparing high-quality meals and customer service.

‘Our human resource is our greatest wealth and we are going a step further to enrol our staff in institutions where they can further their training in commercial cookery and hospitality,’ she explains.

Tapioca Delight has committed to fund its staff education at Limana Vocational School and upon passing the course, fund their studies at the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) so that they can get an Australian recognised qualification in the industry.

‘Rosa was the first to attend the short course at Limana in 2019 and passed with flying colours.  A second staff member is currently enrolled and two more are set commence the course in 2020,’ Sialis says.

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