Every year, more than half a trillion dollars makes its way around the globe in the form of money transfers. Of this amount, about $400 billion is sent as remittances home by the world's migrant workforce, which numbers more than 200 million, according to a 2011 Migration and Development Brief, which projected a remittance total of more than $590 billion by 2014.
And there is money in sending money, as evidenced by the number of companies now making their way into the remittance business. In addition to venerable names such as Western Union and MoneyGram, new mobile players such as Xoom, M-Pesa, DonRiver, Pingit and O2 have popped up all over the map in recent years.
Another newcomer to the money transfer space is M2Cash. The London-based startup officially launched its global money transfer service at Cards and Payments Asia 2012 in Singapore, where it was singled out as winner of the Best Mobile Payment Program. Since then, the company has also been recognized in Australia's 2012 iAwards as the best Finance Industry Application.
"We hoped to meet with up to 15 banking partners as a part of [the Cards and Payments] event; we were in fact, inundated with interest from banks, telcos, existing remitters and governments from countries right across the Asia Pacific and Middle East Africa regions," said Rick Whaite, director of global brand and marketing at M2Cash. "Over 400 companies have actively pursued further interest in M2Cash since that launch event."
Among the most promising aspects of M2Cash is its speed. Once the remitting party has set up a transaction — either by mobile phone, online or over-the-counter via an agent — funds are available to the recipient instantly.
The process begins with user registration at the M2Cash website. This provides security and traceability required by anti-money laundering and "know your customer" regulations, Whaite said.
Once registered, the sender can initiate a transfer via the Internet, drawing from an existing bank or credit account, or over-the-counter through an agent if the transaction is in cash.
The M2Cash system sends the recipient of the remittance a "virtual card" that has an eight-digit code. To claim funds, the recipient goes to the nearest M2Cash outlet and enters three pieces of information: the virtual card number received with the remittance notification, the amount of money to be withdrawn, and a four-digit pin number communicated separately by the sender.
The cash-out procedure can also be transacted over the counter or via EFTPOS, if an ATM is not readily available to the recipient. And, as an additional convenience — and security feature — M2Cash allows either a full or partial withdrawal of the remittance. The sender can designate a time window that allows the recipient to draw funds as needed and avoid carrying a large amount of cash.
Another notable feature of M2Cash is that the service is white-labeled. This allows banks, existing money transfer companies and new entrants to the remittance industry to use the system while retaining or creating their own brand as the customer interface.
This, in turn, allows M2Cash to leverage existing mobile and ATM networks to create a wide-ranging infrastructure that is critical to the success of the service. "We're very happy for it to be a white-labeled product because it provides customer acceptance when it's under a brand that they already know and trust," Whaite said. "And it provides an instant level of penetration in a significant level across the globe. You can't just send to five markets. It becomes a very narrow aperture of focus. So it's really about making sure that our distribution network is wide and we've got great partners globally."
For instance, Whaite said that M2Cash was in discussions with a large European telco to add M2Cash to its service offerings. That company, he said, could adopt M2Cash under its own brand as an additional perk for customers, and gain a number of benefits.
"What happens is the telco will get a clip of the ticket every time a money transfer takes place through the handset," Whaite said. "What also happens of course is that … it increases calls and it increases SMS. So it drives core revenue for them plus overlays with an incremental revenue stream."
M2Cash works on the same principal with ATM networks, providing an additional customer benefit that would give them "a clip of the ticket," while enhancing network utilization and providing an additional revenue stream, Whaite said. "So it means they've got a much higher volume of transactions going through the ATM network in allowing them to participate in an industry where they're effectively over on the sideline when, in fact, they should own it because they are the cash business around the world."
To see how M2Cash works, watch the video below.
For more on this topic, visit the money transfer/P2P research center.
(Additional edits/contributions by James Wester.)