Top Stories from the Remittance Boom – Asia in Focus


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The remittance market is going through a boom, with many players accelerating their expansion across the globe, especially Asia. Asia accounts for close to 55% of global remittance volumes. Globally the remittance market is set to grow to $6.5 Trillion by 2030. Are banks missing a trick here?  Will the remittance market see a David-Goliath moment?

Asia Focus

Asia seems to be where most of the remittance activity is at the moment. India, China and Philippines are at the top of the list in terms of the global remittance volumes.  Transferwise recently closed a funding round for $280 Million with a view to expand into Asia. They have set up offices in Singapore and will be launching products to both consumers and companies to conduct border-less transactions.

India Shining

India has been the top remittance destination with $62.7 Billion done in 2016. Firms like Xendpay and Transferwise are expanding aggressively into Asia with India being the primary focus. India has now gone up 30 places in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report 2018 from 130 to 100. That would further encourage firms to actively expand into the country. Remittance from India also grew by 300% to $4 Billion last year.


Philippines Story

Philippines along with India has been one of the biggest remittance destinations.  TrueMoney, a new remittance provider in Philippines, charge commissions as low as 2% of the transaction amount, without any additional charges to the recipient. For remittances of P1,000, the total cost of sending is only P20. The recipient also gets the entire amount without any additional charges. They still are quite young in their journey when compared to their global peers, but seem to have good success with consumers in Philippines.

Remittance for Businesses

Most of these firms have their eyes on cross border remittance/payments between companies. Rates offered by banks are expensive and this is a market that can do with some disruption. Transferwise are clearly going after the SME market in Asia.

MoneyMatch (based in Malaysia) aims to capture the untapped small and micro portion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by offering cross-border remittance solutions with lower rates than conventional banks. Adrian Yap, the CEO of the firm has mentioned his interest and the opportunity to work with SMEs , especially the underbanked ones, to provide them better rates than the banks. MoneyMatch are based within Malaysia and are hoping to be one of their Fintech success stories.

Elsewhere in the World

Azimo, an online remittance firm focused on providing easy remittance capabilities to communities in Europe, has seen triple digit growth in transactions. They have had staggering growth of more than 200% in remittance volumes to Poland, Maldova and Nigeria. They are currently being used in 190 countries across the globe and over 50% of their volumes happen on mobile.

Is it the Beginning of the End for Western Union?

With so many players trying to have their share of the remittance pie, how has it affected WU? Western Union have been surprisingly thriving through the last few years of remittance disruption. They seem to have accelerated their digital capability, and that has had an effect in the continued uptake of their services by consumers and companies alike.

Since the set up of their mobile unit, they have seen a growth in their digital business of 20-30% YoY. They have established partnerships with WeChat and Viber and have been very proactive in dealing with disruption in this space.

And, there is this looming danger that Amazon or Facebook could try to get into this market. However for now, the remittance market seems to be big enough for the Davids and the Goliaths.

Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Fintech thought leader and an investor. 

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