As the world’s fourth most pop­u­lous coun­try, which has 742 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, 18,307 is­lands and a mid­dle-in­come class that is larger than Aus­tralia’s, In­done­sia is with­out a doubt a coun­try of big num­bers and op­por­tu­ni­ties. This is es­pe­cially true for

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - By Nadya Joy Ador

AFEX In­done­sia on Fin­tech and Cross- Bor­der Pay­ments

As­so­ci­ated For­eign Ex­change (AFEX) is a big com­pany. The firm is a global pay­ment and risk man­age­ment busi­ness and is one of the world’s largest non-bank, pri­vate providers of pay­ment solutions. Cur­rently, the com­pany serves more than 30,000 cor­po­rates and ex­pats with cross­bor­der pay­ment and risk man­age­ment ser­vices in 19 mar­kets around the world.

Like many other for­eign com­pa­nies,

AFEX came to In­done­sia lured by its ‘big num­bers equal big op­por­tu­ni­ties’ equa­tion. The busi­ness was in­spired by re­search and stud­ies that pre­dicted the coun­try would have more than 180 mil­lion mid­dlein­come earn­ers by 2030.

AFEX In­done­sia CEO and Coun­try Man­ager Paul Nor­wood spoke with In­done­sia Ex­pat in an interview to talk about the na­ture of his busi­ness, the chal­lenges and how he and his team have worked to­gether over the years to solve prob­lems.

Nor­wood has been in the for­eign ex­change ( FX) and pay­ments busi­ness for more than two decades al­ready, hav­ing served stints at West­pac Bank­ing Corp and Amer­i­can Ex­press. These jobs have taken him around the world, sta­tion­ing him in cities like New York, Syd­ney and Sin­ga­pore.

Nor­wood was Gen­eral Man­ager for Amer­i­can Ex­press FX In­ter­na­tional Pay­ments in Sin­ga­pore when AFEX found him and of­fered him the op­por­tu­nity to lead its ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion plan across Asia. He jumped at the chance, which he saw as an op­por­tu­nity to be part of an ex­cit­ing and am­bi­tious global or­ga­ni­za­tion.

AFEX claims the com­pany grew rapidly from its in­cep­tion in 1979 un­til 2010. AFEX opened of­fices in Aus­tralia, Swe­den, Switzer­land and the UK. In the US, the firm’s head­quar­ters is lo­cated in Wood­land Hills, Cal­i­for­nia. AFEX also has a pres­ence in Italy and Canada, while ex­pan­sion plans are cur­rently tap­ping Euro­pean and Asian mar­kets.

“In In­done­sia, we com­pete against the banks of­fer­ing cor­po­rates and ex­pats an al­ter­na­tive way of mov­ing money around the world. Our value lies in the ser­vices we of­fer our clients, which in­clude a ded­i­cated re­la­tion­ship man­ager, same-day value trans­ac­tions and com­pet­i­tive FX pric­ing,” Nor­wood ex­plains.

The CEO was quick to add that the bar­ri­ers to en­try in the pay­ments sec­tor are high. He said, “Bank In­done­sia is­sues li­cens­ing only to those who are able to demon­strate they have ro­bust com­pli­ance pro­grammes to en­sure risk of money laun­der­ing or ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing is low.”

Nor­wood pre­dicts there won’t be too much change in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, but be­lieves that fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy (fin­tech) will in­creas­ingly play an im­por­tant role in the mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly when fin­tech firms are able to demon­strate a more “dis­rup­tive” con­tri­bu­tion than just pro­vid­ing “sta­tus quo” re­sults.

“Our FX rates al­ways beat the banks, our fees are very low (US$2.20 to US$7.50) and through our ex­ten­sive global net­work, we de­liver your funds to your for­eign bank ac­count within hours.”

Nor­wood told In­done­sia Ex­pat that AFEX is in­vest­ing heav­ily in fin­tech plat­forms around the world and has re­cently in­tro­duced API ca­pa­bil­i­ties to re­duce the time and ef­fort for busi­nesses to process in­ter­na­tional pay­ments.

He added, “On­go­ing in­vest­ment in this area is re­quired to en­sure suc­cess […] as is cul­ti­vat­ing an en­vi­ron­ment to in­no­vate through pre­dict­ing our cor­po­rate and ex­pat cus­tomers’ fu­ture needs.”

Nor­wood de­scribed that while the ma­jor­ity of AFEX’s clients come from the cor­po­rate world, the com­pany also op­er­ates a suc­cess­ful ex­pat pay­ment ser­vice that has so far been given pos­i­tive feed­back.

“Our FX rates al­ways beat the banks, our fees are very low ( US$2.20 to US$7.50) and through our ex­ten­sive global net­work, we de­liver your funds to your for­eign bank ac­count within hours […] Our trans­ac­tion process can be han­dled over the phone or on­line, which means no more forms and bank branch queues – all these as op­posed to bank FX trans­ac­tions where the cus­tomer pays be­tween one and three per­cent for their FX trans­ac­tions, plus a fee of US$10 to US$25 and the money ar­rives two to three days later.”

When asked how he could ad­vise en­trepreneurs look­ing to get into the global pay­ment and risk man­age­ment in­dus­try in In­done­sia, the AFEX In­done­sia coun­try man­ager was quick to stress the im­por­tance of find­ing re­li­able sup­port ser­vices for pay­roll, tax com­pli­ance, HR and re­cruit­ment.

“Whether you are im­port­ing or ex­port­ing through your busi­ness or need to send money home to cover your mort­gage or pay for an emer­gency or send a fam­ily mem­ber some birth­day shop­ping money, you will need to have a global pay­ments spe­cial­ist you can trust to pro­vide you with a great ser­vice and price. We will be happy to play that part for you,” Nor­wood said.

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