This in­no­va­tive fin­tech firm is bent on stamp­ing out Asia’s money trans­fer woes

Find out more about how In­starem of­fers speed, ef­fi­ciency and ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive ex­change rates as it strives to lead the re­gion’s mo­bile pay­ments wave.

Singapore Business Review - - CO-PUBLISHED CORPORATE PROFILE -

When In­starem founder Pra­jit Nanu stum­bled across a host of chal­lenges when it came to re­mit­ting money abroad, he re­alised that the Asian pay­ment in­dus­try needed a se­ri­ous boost. Com­mon­place chal­lenges like opaque for­eign ex­change rates and ex­tended time­lines for de­liv­ery prompted him to es­tab­lish In­starem, a pi­o­neer­ing fin­tech startup which of­fers tai­lor-made so­lu­tions to re­duce the cost of trans­fer­ring money glob­ally.

“In Asia where e-com­merce, m-com­merce and so­cial com­merce, are fast be­com­ing a pop­u­lar plat­form for buy­ing and sell­ing goods and ser­vices, small mer­chants are look­ing for ways to ride the faster pay­ment wave to in­crease rev­enue and re­duce cus­tomer churn,” Nanu ex­plains, high­light­ing that the pay­ment sce­nario in Asia is much more com­plex com­pared to other parts of the de­vel­oped world. This is where In­starem comes in—it al­lows users to re­mit money safely, quickly and ef­fi­ciently in just three clicks, mak­ing it a must-have ap­pli­ca­tion for busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als alike.

Tai­lor-made so­lu­tions

In­starem of­fers a dif­fer­ent value propo­si­tion for each cus­tomer base, which sets it apart from its more tra­di­tional com­peti­tors. “For re­tail, un­like our com­peti­tors who charge a trans­ac­tion fee and a FX spread we charge a per­cent­age of the amount. If you are send­ing $1000, our fees will be, say, 0.5% so $5 which in­cludes FX and Trans­ac­tion fee,” Nanu says.

In ad­di­tion to lower costs, In­starem is also able to com­plete a trans­ac­tion on the same day or within 24 hours. The World Bank rates In­starem’s ser­vice as the least ex­pen­sive in the Aus­tralia-in­dia cor­ri­dor, in line with the com­pany’s vi­sion of steadily re­duc­ing the cost of send­ing money in­ter­na­tion­ally.

For busi­ness-to-busi­ness trans­ac­tions, In­starem uses its lo­cal pay­out mesh in Asia, North Amer­ica and Europe for seam­less trans­fers. “Fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions such as banks, pay­ment pro­ces­sors and cor­po­rates can lever­age our plat­form to make lo­cal and bulk pay­ments. Our pay­ments are pro­cessed on the same day and there are no de­duc­tions,” Nanu ex­plains.

In­starem’s suc­cess has been im­pres­sive: since it started op­er­a­tions in Aus­tralia in 2015, it pro­cesses mil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery day, with 60 staff glob­ally. In­starem is cur­rently li­censed in Aus­tralia, Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore and Canada. “We are ap­ply­ing for li­censes in other ju­ris­dic­tions such as Europe and US and this will al­low us to in­crease our cus­tomer base mas­sively. We are con­stantly in ne­go­ti­a­tions with dif­fer­ent bank­ing part­ners around the world. Hav­ing more bank­ing part­ners al­lows us to pro­vide a greater range of cur­ren­cies and thus at­tract more cus­tomers,” Nanu says.

Mov­ing to­wards fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion

At the core of In­starem’s vi­sion is fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion— Nanu stresses that there is a need to col­lab­o­rate and in­te­grate with tra­di­tional play­ers in the in­dus­try to im­prove the fi­nan­cial ecosys­tem and ul­ti­mately serve con­sumers bet­ter by stream­lin­ing fi­nan­cial ser­vices, pro­vid­ing them a seam­less process. “In­starem is all about be­ing a part of the fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion ini­tia­tive. We are look­ing at col­lab­o­ra­tions with fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and tra­di­tional money chang­ers and re­mit­tance agents to not only serve the un­banked pop­u­la­tion but also meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of dig­i­tal savvy con­sumers of to­day,” he says.

He adds that highly lo­calised strate­gies for prod­ucts such as mo­bile wal­lets and MPOS would def­i­nitely make an im­pact in Asia. “Mo­bile pay­ments is great for fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion, es­pe­cially for coun­tries that has low card usage, the chances of them em­brac­ing mo­bile wal­lets and MPOS is much higher. Also, in coun­tries that are more de­vel­oped, it is es­sen­tially an ef­fi­ciency driver and it would cre­ate a more bal­ance model of tra­di­tional vs dig­i­tal,” he notes.

The com­pany’s jour­ney is not with­out chal­lenges. Nanu shares that there are big dif­fer­ences in each coun­try’s reg­u­la­tory scheme, which poses a huge ob­sta­cle as In­starem must nav­i­gate through dif­fer­ent cul­tures, lan­guages and poli­cies to op­er­ate in each coun­try. In or­der to ad­dress this chal­lenge, the com­pany only hires ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple who have the knowl­edge and ex­per­tise in both lo­cal and re­gional mar­kets. This al­lows In­starem to de­liver a faster, more re­li­able ser­vice to its clients.

“Data se­cu­rity is also ex­tremely im­por­tant to us, since our ser­vice in­volves cross bor­der money trans­fer. We al­ways en­sure that our net­works are se­cure and pro­tected against the ram­pant hack­ing in­ci­dents. Com­pa­nies must en­sure that cus­tomer and com­pany data are se­curely pro­tected,” he says.

In­starem is de­vel­op­ing a dig­i­tal bank for Asian SMES, which is slated to be launched in Q1 2018. “Lis­ten­ing to con­sumers’ needs is ut­most im­por­tant and we have iden­ti­fied those con­cerns on re­mit­tance. In the cur­rent fast mov­ing and tech savvy en­vi­ron­ment we live in, we need to re­act and solve is­sues faster than ever. This sets us apart from the tra­di­tional play­ers such as banks and re­mit­tance agents for we are cater­ing to con­sumers’ cur­rent needs, which is ef­fi­ciency and con­ve­nience. This would help con­sumers move on from tra­di­tional meth­ods,” he says.

“Mo­bile pay­ments is great for fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion, es­pe­cially for coun­tries that has low card usage.”

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