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We may have returned from Malaysia nearly two weeks ago now, but relations between the Far Eastern Fintech hub of Kuala Lumpur and London are clearly getting even stronger!
World Remit, the London-based money transfer company that says it is handling more than 700,000 transfers to 140 receiving destinations every month, has announced that it is launching in Malaysia.
The company was selected as one of only four initial entrants into Bank Negara’s Financial Technology Regulatory Sandbox that took place in June this year.
Funnily enough, and this shows how The Money Cloud always has its finger on the pulse, we were discussing regulatory sandboxes in another part of Asia, Hong Kong, just yesterday!
Clearly, being part of one of Malaysia’s biggest bank’s sandbox programmes has worked wonders for World Remit, who will now be able to help migrants in Malaysia (and there are many; Chinese, Burmese, Thai, Indian, Australians, Kazakhstani, you name it, they are there!) to transfer money to more than 140 countries.
Asia is probably hotter for fintech right now than anywhere else in the world, London included, although open banking and the onset of PSD2 may change all that next year. It’s fitting, then, that World Remit say that sending a payment to loved ones back home is almost as easy as sending an instant message. In order to win out in the white hot competitive heat of battle for market share in Asia, it will need to be.
World Remit says that their mobile-first model “significantly improves security and compliance standards, and also “eliminates the need for the sender to visit a bricks and mortar agent, which can be inconvenient and time consuming.”
Asia beginning to dominate global remittance volumes
And World Remit won’t just be covering Malaysia, either. Although they have established their “beach head” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital and biggest city, World Remit have announced their intention to add Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan as send countries also.
World Remit says that 25% of its total transaction volumes sent are to the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.
Hardly surprising, as World Remit’s press release also reveals that according to the UN, Asia has witnessed the most dynamic growth in remittance volumes, and now receives 55% of all overseas money transfers.
In 2015, Malaysia sent more than $6bn worth of remittances, predominantly to neighbouring Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
World Remit announce that they have appointed Ridzuan Aziz, “a senior Malaysian business leader with experience in compliance advisory and fintech”, as Malaysian Country Director.
Aziz commented “We look forward to offering our services to Malaysians, further supporting the move from archaic offline remittances to safer, faster and lower cost online transfer methods.”
Michael Liu, APAC Director at WorldRemit, added that:
“Any international financial technology business wanting to achieve a real business presence in Asia Pacific needs to be in Malaysia. The growing recognition of the importance of innovation, through developments like the country’s new regulatory Sandbox and the Digital Free Trade Zone, signifies greater government policy support for businesses like ours.”
The Money Cloud View
We second Mr Liu’s view. Malaysians are tech savvy and do not tolerate poor service for long when there are superior digital alternatives available. World Remit scored a coup by being welcomed onto Bank Negara’s sandbox programme and it looks like the move will pay dividends as the company moves into Asia, a great place to be for any disruptive fintech firm.
Competition will be intense, however. The likes of Alipay, Softbank, and a number of big banks that do not fear fintech disruptors, being pretty on the ball themselves, are behemoths that can gobble up market share and inspire loyalty amongst consumers.
World Remit have shown themselves to be adept at expanding internationally. They are in Africa, partnering with WafaCash, India, partnering with Yes Bank, and they have charismatic leadership in the form of CEO Ismail Ahmed.
We say good luck to them, but we also say what we always say when we conclude our columns. If you want to find the best deal for sending money abroad, use a price comparison site!
It’s the only way to be absolutely sure.