Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Prajit Nanu, co-founder and CEO at InstaReM.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
InstaReM is Asia-Pacific’s leading digital cross-border payments company, helping individuals, SMEs and financial institutions to transfer money globally conveniently, quickly and cheaply.
InstaReM provides transparent international money transfers at a fraction of the cost compared to the traditional players (banks, MTOs), and can send money to over 3.21 billion people in more than 55 countries worldwide.
For individuals, InstaReM provides Bank-to-Bank Money Transfers at Zero-Margin FX Rates using rates sourced directly from Reuters, and for corporates/SMEs, InstaReM uses the MassPay platform to manage and control their high-volume payouts to multiple beneficiaries in multiple locations and multiple currencies
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Traditional cross-border money transfers are plagued with high transfer fees, hidden charges, extended delays and lack of transparency. Traditional players maintain brick-and-mortar set-ups, adding to their costs that are eventually passed on to customers.
As a “digital-only” platform, InstaReM eliminates inefficiencies of the traditional money transfers and passes on savings to end-users. InstaReM also bypasses SWIFT, which not only makes it more cost-effective, but also quick. InstaReM focuses on offering extremely competitive costs, transparency, speed and a great customer experience.
We’ve raised $ 18 million in two rounds so far and are investing funds to expand business into new markets. Endorsement by marquee investors like SBI-FMO Emerging Asia Financial Sector Fund, Vertex Ventures and Fullerton Financial Holdings is a testimony to the viability of InstaReM business model
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
We offer competitive transaction fees with a flat transaction fee (typically of < 1%), instead of the usual fee-plus marginal FX spread. We have complete transparency to users with Zero-Margin FX Rates, using rates sourced directly from Reuters.
InstaReM also differentiates from its competitors by making the charges known, before the customer makes the payment.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Our biggest challenge is acquiring licenses, especially in Asia. Unlike EU, where a single license from a member state gives access to the entire EU market, in Asia, we have to acquire separate licenses in each country.
Money Service Business is subject to high level of Regulatory Compliance all over the world. It helps InstaReM that Michael Bermingham, InstaReM’s other co-
founder, comes with extensive experience in Regulatory Compliance in the US, EU and Asia.
Another challenge is getting customers to move to digital platforms from traditional methods. There is a general inertia among the older generation in exploring digital platforms. Also, there is no loyalty in online businesses as users move to the competitors offering a better deal. But with razor-sharp focus on customer experience, our customer retention rate is as high as 80-85%.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
In today's hyper-competitive and volatile world of business, it's not easy to stay without a mobile phone, however I am not an Apps-freak.
I use select mobile apps to stay in touch with family, friends and business associates, and am highly active on business networking sites such as LinkedIn’s mobile app.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Always focus on the customer and never on the competition.
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