Samish Kumar, Transfast CEO, said Egypt is an important market for his company, which is expanding in the Middle East through launching a new product that mainly focus on small- and medium-enterprises that sell services and products online.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Kumar revealed that his company has signed contracts with local lenders, including Commercial International Bank (CIB) and United Bank, to serve as their local agents in the Egyptian market.
“Transpay is a cross-border payments platform that allows businesses to process mass payouts within minutes to a recipient’s bank account or direct fund payouts (one-to-many payments),” Kumar said, defining the new product that was launched last July.
The following is a transcript of DNE’s interview with the CEO.
Would you first introduce Transfast to our readers?
Transfast is a global company for finance transfers and payments and covers 125 countries across the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe. We have licences for safety transactions around the world. We are considered the best network to move funds across the world. We have 300,000 points of payment around the world.
Moving to the Egyptian market, why is it so important to your company?
Egypt is a very important market for us for two reasons. First, for remittances, Egypt is the top recipient of them around the world. Remittances come from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Secondly, we operate the largest network to source remittances from North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
What is unique to Transfast is that 8 million Egyptians live abroad and they can send remittances through our network via multiple channels. This means Egyptians can go to locations to send money through a bank, financial institution, or retail partner. In addition, they can send money via mobile or online. So Transfast can provide a cheaper channel that is more convenient for Egyptians abroad when they send money home.
Egyptians send about $20bn per year. Approximately 60% of that amount comes from the Gulf counties, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, while the rest comes from the US, Canada, Europe and other parts of Africa.
So are you in talks with Egyptian banks to boost your presence in the Egyptian market?
We are working with Egyptian banks to continue expanding our presence in Egypt. We cooperate with Banque du Caire and the United Bank of Egypt. We have also signed a new deal with CIB to boost our network in Egypt.
In the Middle East, we operate the largest network of partners that includes banks and financial institutions, which is very important in bringing remittances to Egypt. Through our partners in places like the US, Canada, and Europe, Egyptians can go to banking or retail locations and send money to Egypt.
What about your transfer fee rates to the Egyptian market?
We offer very competitive fees as we charge much lower than banks charge. In North America, fees for sending money are much higher. If you send money home via JP Morgan Chase, for example, you pay $40 to $45 just to send $500 to Egypt. With us you can send this same amount for less than $10.
We have 44 customer service centres for customers to call when there is any issue and they can have the problem solved.
Talk to us about your new product Transpay.
The Transpay product, which is designed to transfer payments from abroad to Egypt, is related to the private sector. This product is also suitable for freelancers, another area I think is important for Egypt. Transpay facilitates the transfer of money for Egyptian freelancers who work for companies abroad so they can be paid in dollars.
Transpay is a payments platform built exclusively for cross-border and alternative payments.
It is the world’s largest, independent, global proprietary payments network to enable real-time payouts/pay ins with direct-to-bank, cash ,and wallet payment methods.
We offer coverage for over 90% of the world population (6.4 billion people).
What is the value of the company’s investments?
We have about $1.5bn at an investment fund called Growth Capital Partners (GCP). The fund is based in New York and licensed to send transactions around the world.
We have 200,000 payment point locations.
What is the value of the transfer fees levied on the amounts to be remitted?
Our transfer fees are 80% lower on average than what US banks charge. Our fees are 50% better than Egyptian banks.
What currencies does the company permit for Egyptian remittances?
In term of currency pairs, we transfer from dollars into Egyptian pounds, from dollar into Indian rupees, euros into Egyptian pounds, as well as 1,000 further currency pairs.
After the pound was devalued, how did this step affect Egyptian remittances?
Remittances are the most reliable source of capital for developing countries like Egypt, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and others. Remittances continue to grow in Egypt. In a slow economy, foreign investment can slow down remittances, but generally, remittances remain stable because people abroad send more money to support their families back in Egypt. Therefore, remittances remain steady and continue to grow and support the economy, as the $20bn received in remittances contribute to finance, education, and other economic activities and provide hard currency for the Central Bank of Egypt.
How will the company compete with other money transfer companies in the Egyptian market?
Firstly, we are pioneers of launching instant banking and direct banking deposits. Today, we are the largest direct bank network in the world. In 2009, we were the first to launch instant banking. In Egypt, we offer customers the choice to send money using cash or from their bank account.
We are 20% to 25% cheaper than other traditional money transfers. We can transfer money in seconds instead of the five days that other channels take.
What is the period taken to transfer mobile money?
If a customer sends cash, it will take minutes. If the customer sends money online, we have two products: a three-day product and a minutes product. The three-day product is at a lower rate than the latter. The minutes product is designed for urgent cases.
How many Egyptians use mobile money?
The number of Egyptians using mobile money is still small but is growing dramatically and I expect that it will become 40% to 50% of the total market.
How do you guarantee low-risk services for online remittances?
We invest heavily in security, which is very important to our business. We perform background checks and ensure that our online and mobile services are secure to prevent fraud or theft.
How many African countries are served by the company?
About 20 countries we serve are part of our network, as we are very committed to Africa. We serve all francophone countries. We started in Nigeria about three years ago and we transferred about $700m in total last year.
About the company
Transfast is a simple and affordable way to send money around the world. For 30 years, its strong network of trusted financial partners, combined with best-in-class technology, have enabled the company to deliver savings, convenience, and peace of mind to millions of customers in over 125 countries.
Transfast CEO Samish Kumar spoke at premier fintech conference Seamless North Africa on 7 February in Cairo, Egypt. Addressing an audience that included Egypt’s central bank leadership and more than 1,000 decision-making executives across financial services, technology, retail, and e-commerce, Kumar discussed notable trends in the cross-border repayments sphere relevant to the MENA region and broader global payments ecosystem.
In a session titled Establishing Frictionless Cross-Border Payments, Kumar shed light on how to develop a digital payments platform that can be scaled to deliver cross-currency, cross-border, and cross-network payments. This will include Transfast’s own experience adding speed, transparency, and end-to-end tracking to existing workflows.
“The North Africa region has taken solid steps towards reinventing the way people and industries can benefit from global digital transformation already underway,” Kumar said. “It will be my honour to share Transfast’s experience in delivering convenient, transparent, and compliant cross-border payments that benefit senders and receivers alike, including those among Seamless’ visionary audience.”
With a population that exceeds 190 million people, North Africa is embarking on a transformational economic journey underpinned by a flurry of global and local innovations in financial technology.
Seamless has become an unrivalled platform to discuss new trends, launch products, and share best practices relevant to payments and commerce. Its North Africa edition saw a stellar line-up of speakers discussing the various disruptors and innovations that are revolutionising the financial services industry.