Founder & CEO
In one of the iconic dialogues in the 1994 Hollywood movie Forrest Gump, the lead character Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) aesthetically elucidates the uncertainty of life, “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get", Gendo T. (Founder & CEO, Billmont) was born into an ideal family in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan—to a father who was a professional baseball player and a housewife mother. Gendo was blessed with a smooth life, happily sailing through the events of life without any inconveniences. But things took an unfortunate turn when he was 17. His father suddenly became seriously ill and was forced to fight the illness, turning all their lives upside down.
Gendo’s courageous mother, who had been a full-time housewife, decided to provide the family with the support it desperately needed by taking up entrepreneurship. She started a restaurant near their home. Two things happened in Gendo’s life in the aftermath of this. As a student, he helped his mother and learnedabout business, and he was also extensively inspired by his mother. He says, “She taught me everything I needed to know about marketing, purchasing, sales per customer, monthly sales, how much profit is left over, and so on. I am still grateful to my mother for allowing me to learn the know-how necessary to run a business in the real world at such a young age".
Cut to the present, Gendo is an industry thought leader and a serial entrepreneur whose achievements speak for themselves. Having had a stellar entrepreneurial journey, including entering the restaurant business and growing the company to 1.7 billion yen in annual sales in three years, he is busy scripting another success story with Billmont Limited in Hong Kong. Billmont is a cross-border credit card payment business he started in 2020. CEO Insights explores Gendo’s unique story through an exclusive interview with him. In conversation with Gendo T., Founder & CEO, Billmont.
You originally started your professional` journey by helping your mother in her restaurant business. What led you to the money lending business? Tell us about your journey.
I was very interested in business from a young age. When I turned 20, just as I was about to move to the US to pursue a bigger dream. But my father suddenly passed away, and I could not leave my mother alone in Japan. I decided to give up the idea of going to the US and moved to Tokyo.
I noticed an advertisement for a job in the money lending business there, which hired me after my persistent efforts. Thanks to my love for math, numbers, and money and the priceless business knowledge I acquired from my mother, within a year, I mastered the know-how of the money lending business. Later, in 2003, I started my first company and became independent. The company was small, but business was going well.
In the midst of all this, I had a chance to meet the president of a company that operated 35 restaurants in Tokyo, and I became involved in launching a new restaurant business. I had always been interested in restaurant management, partly because of my mother’s influence, so I was honestly happy when I was approached. I set up a new company to manage restaurants and opened a high-end restaurant and then a nightclub.
Business went well; within three years, we had grown annual sales to 1.7 billion yen. The nightclub, in particular, was the largest of its kind in Japan. It boasted the highest number of customers in Japan, which was widely covered in the news and media. In addition, for three consecutive years, MHD (Moet Hennessy Diageo) awarded us the ‘Best Champagne Sales in Japan’ award.
Later, I pursued overseas expansion, stepping down as president and moving to Macau (China) by myself in 2013. To launch a new restaurant business in Macau, I raised 1.5 billion yen in funding. However, the timing was not right, and Macau’s economy decreased sharply (down 50 percent) due to travel restrictions on Chinese tourists. As a result, I was forced to cancel this plan and return to Japan in 2014. While managing a restaurant, I turned my attention to the business revitalization area to see if I could put my experience to use in some other way. I entered the business revitalization area in partnership with a major law firm specializing in restaurants and general construction companies. Then, by chance, I met the owner of a major payment/settlement company in the US at one of the restaurants I was managing. At the time, hardly a few companies in Japan were participating in this payment business. I decided to act as an agent to develop merchants in the Japanese market. It turned out to be a hassle-free entry into the industry. We steadily developed merchants in the Japanese market. In 2020, I started my own company, a fullscale cross-border payment business in based in Hong Kong operating in Asia.
Where is Billmont positioned in the industry, and what are the benefits it delivers to your customers?
Billmont is one of the leading payment gateway solutions in the industry. With the ability to accept credit cards online in 196 countries worldwide, our extensive payment services are available to customers of all types and sizes. We serve businesses of all kinds of customers, large and small. We accept payment methods from over 100 of the world’s leading alternative payment methods. By far exceeding the industry average for payment options, we give our customers more flexibility and increase conversion rates.
We also use state-of-the-art payment processing technology and go the extra mile to ensure that all transactions are encrypted and secure. As a provider of payment services, we are committed to being a leader in e-business for banks, corporations, and the global marketplace. We promote the widespread use of electronic payment processing solutions and services. We also want to continue to lead the industry by providing superior payment processing solutions to business owners and consumers around the world.
We are a global FinTech platform that provides multicurrency payment processing solutions for merchants worldwide. Billmont supports operating systems related to approvals, purchases, and settlements for multinational global consumers and merchants to accommodate the rapid changes in the online market.
Being fully PCI DSS compliant and equipped with a world-class machine-learning fraud prevention system means Billmont provides secure and transparent payment solutions for high, medium, and low-risk businesses. We strive to stay ahead of the competition pack and provide near-perfect payment solutions and tailored services.
What are the latest trends and best industry practices reflected in your leadership style, and what has been your success mantra?
My goal is to provide the means of achievement and success to people. We at Billmont provide easyto- integrate and transparent payment services and simplify the complexities of the financial world for our clients. In choosing our partners and day-today activity, I strive to support the business’ beauty in its organic form. One of my favorite books is ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand. The idea of allowing business to flourish by winning in open and fair competition and transparent business rules is dear to my heart. Billmont openly enters the competition and wins the game by providing the best payment solution in Asia and offering our unique services tailored to each partner’s needs. We want the same for our partners and clients. We allow them to focus on developing their businesses, winning the game, and generating revenue while delegating payment processing to Billmont.
Furthermore, we embrace the rapid change and innovations of the financial world and surf the wave of transformations.
As the CEO, what are the fundamental factors you consider while formulating corporate and growth strategies?
While reactive problem-solving is sometimes as important as proactive vision, at the core of the CEO role is not problem-solving but envisioning future prospects and predicting future challenges. We don’t just respond to our partners’ and customers’ needs and requests but rather create moments for them and help them open new doors and discover new opportunities.
Billmont serves as the bridge connecting Europe and Asia as we help our European partners to enter Asian financial markets and provide them with our deep local knowledge and local markets expertise. We do our best to contribute to a greener economy with cashless payments and to transform the Asian financial market with cutting-edge technology.
The key to providing the best services is finding like-minded individuals striving for personal and corporate growth and success. At Billmont, ranking is not a rigid concept. Freshers in the company are given equal opportunities and treated as an asset that provides a new perspective. Despite the global scope of Billmont, we managed to preserve the beauty and sincerity of relationships of the family business: trust and a common vision of the future bring outstanding individuals together in Billmont. I follow Lee Iacocca’s advice, hire people brighter than me, and get out of their way. Brainstorming and lively exchange of ideas are regular practices in Billmont, allowing the company to always stay ahead of the competition.
What is the future destination you are heading toward?
Digitalization surrounding financial institutions will remain the key topic. Billmont’s mission is to enable businesses and their communities to prosper in the digital economy through payment solutions. It is most important to always think from the customer’s point of view, what inadequacies and dissatisfaction they want to solve, and to move speedily to win the competition with time. Our challenge in the future is to incorporate and utilize mechanisms that enrich our lives into this trend. We will continue to be passionate about supporting the growth of companies worldwide through our nextgeneration payment platform.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs in the field?
In an era when the significance and responsibility of corporate existence are more important than ever, the Fintech market is growing steadily. It is an area with great future potential.
The market gaps will remain to allow new ideas to find their place. The most important thing for people who want to start a venture company is to find an idea or seed that will lead to business. Is the idea something that the world needs now and in the future? Try to think. The road ahead will open up when you are willing to move your body and think with your mind. I especially agree with Lee Iacocca, manager of Ford Motor Company in the 1960-s, when he said: “We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems".
Being an entrepreneur is like riding a roller coaster. It is a roller coaster ride, and it is up to you to enjoy the ups and downs and keep going. You never know when a wave of success will come. But only those who survive the low tide have a chance for a high tide.
For this reason, please cherish your own ambition, the belief that you will never give up, and the friends you fight with.
Gendo T., Founder & CEO, Billmont
Gendo is an industry thought leader and a serial entrepreneur whose achievements speak for themselves. Having had a stellar entrepreneurial journey, including entering the restaurant business and growing the company to 1.7 billion yen in annual sales in three years, he is busy scripting another success story with Billmont Limited in Hong Kong.
Hobbies: Marine Sports, Boat Fishing, Watching Boxing
Favorite Food: Korean BBQ
Favorite Books: The Gospel of Wealth (by Andrew Carnegie), The Secret (by Rhonda Byrne), Atlas Shrugged (by Ayn Rand) Favorite Travel Destinations: Maui (Hawaii, US), Okinawa (Japan), and places with beautiful oceans.