InstaReM, a global cross-border money transfer company
Please introduce yourself and your startup InstaReM to our readers!
I’m Prajit Nanu, I’m Co-Founder and CEO of InstaReM, a global cross-border money transfer company. We’re one of Asia’s largest cross-border money transfer (remittance) provider for businesses and individuals. We started in Australia three years ago and now we’re South East Asia’s only global fintech with a presence in over 30+ markets, having recently moved into Europe and North/South America.
How did you get the idea to InstaReM?
I was trying to organise a bachelor party at a resort in Phuket for a friend. When trying to book and transfer money my bank asked for extensive documentation to transfer a not-so-huge amount. Arranging all the documents would have taken a lot of time and effort. Luckily, I found an Indian friend based in Thailand, transferred the money to his bank account in India, and he paid it to the resort in Thai Baht.
Later, the friend revealed that he had been sending money to India every month and his bank was charging a small fortune for the service.
This got me thinking about how I could convert this problem to a successful business and spent a lot of time thinking how I can scale this concept. Michael Bermingham, the other co-founder, was the first person I called in London when I strongly felt a need for a convenient, transparent and affordable digital funds transfer platform.
After tonnes of research and identifying a better way to move money across borders, we got started on InstaReM.
How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
It’s not very easy to start a business in Asia that involves extensive regulatory oversight. Some of our peers were licensed in Europe, giving them an instant access to 28 markets. In Asia, you have to go to each country to get separate license. It’s a complicated market and that’s one of the key challenges. It’s complex. Slowly and steadily, the regulators are warming up and trying to make things easy for us, but there’s a long way to go.
Another challenge was access to capital. When we were just getting seed funding we pitched to a lot of banks and the only one who believed in us then was Rocket Internet, who gave us half a million when we were just two guys with a Powerpoint. They believed in what we were trying to build, took a nominal stake even if it wasn’t normal for them to do so in this market, and still continue to invest in us.
Who is your target audience?
Even though most of our business comes from B2B, around 60%, we also cater to a B2C audience. In the UK, our consumer audience is mainly those from an ethnic minority who remit money back home.
What is the USP of your startup?
Competitive transaction charges: InstaReM offers transparent Zero-Margin FX rates. It uses mid-market rates sourced directly from Reuters and does not add any margins on FX at all, unlike most banks and money transfer services. It charges a nominal fee (< 1%) to cover costs.
Absolute transparency: InstaReM’s transaction charges are shown before the user makes the remittance, unlike banks/traditional remittance firms who charge an FX spread (the difference between the inter-bank currency conversion rate and the rate quoted by them) in addition to the transaction fee.
Speed of transaction: InstaReM is able to transfer funds typically within 24 hours in Asia, compared to the average two to four days transfer by banks.
Wide reach: InstaReM can send funds to over 3.21 billion people in their local bank accounts across the globe. Businesses and individuals from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, EU, US and Canada are able to remit money to 55+ countries worldwide.
Bulk payments: Corporations and SMEs are able to use InstaReM’s MassPay platform. The platform enables businesses to reduce cross-border transfer costs by up to 80%.
Can you describe a typical workday of you?
A typical workday involves connecting with co-founder Mike Bermingham and global InstaReM teams for updates, meetings with regulators, existing/potential customers, media and other stakeholders, attending or speaking at industry forums and sometimes firefighting crises. I spend a bit of time networking – online as well as offline – with the like-minded people with similar vision and passion.
This helps me get valuable insights into the industry as well as connect with people who matter.
Where do you see yourself and your startup InstaReM in five years?
Today, we are active in 34 markets (including 28 member states of the European Union). We are well on our way to get profitable by 2020 and a possible IPO by 2021. In the next five years, I see InstaReM to be active in most of the key remittance corridors, covering 80-90% of the global population. Driven by the passion and shared vision, we are aiming to build the brand InstaReM as the most preferred way to transfer money globally by individuals as well as businesses.
What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
1) Start a business only with a genuine desire to solve a real problem. Don’t start just because everybody is starting or getting insane valuations for their start-ups. You can sustain your business only if you offer real value to your customers on a sustainable basis.
2) Choose your investors carefully. Very young start-ups pick their investors carelessly, and that’s not good. A bad investor is bad for your business, and could get you to fold really quickly. An investor is someone you need to be open and honest with. Choose them carefully, and don’t just run to anyone who throws money at you.
3) Choose the right people for your team. I make sure the people I work with are passionate about InstaReM’s vision and mission. It will be relatively easy to build a business with the right set of people who are willing to walk an extra mile to solve a problem.
More information you will find here
Thank you Prajit Nanu for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.