The annual amount of international remittance flow accounts for a significant percentage of several nations’ gross domestic products.
Earthport, a cross-border payments service provider, has acknowledged the burgeoning importance of remittances, especially within emerging markets.
Claiming to operate in every continent to which remittances are sent, Earthport has been making payments headlines. They recently announced new operations in Northern Africa along with a $10 million funding from IFC, a World Bank Group member.
PYMNTS.com was given the opportunity to speak with Hank Uberoi, Earthport’s CEO, to talk about opening the route into Earthport’s first African country, and how it will use the new funding to mobilize future developments.
PYMNTS.com inquired about Earthport’s new launch into Morocco. Moroccan consumers have a growing demand for cross-border payment services, and represent the second largest remittance country in North Africa.
What drove Earthport to enter the African market and why not start with the dominating remittance country?
“Our network expansion is driven by a couple of different factors, but the most important one is the client demand,” Uberoi replied. As we have previously announced, we have some of the largest remittance companies in the world as clients, and we are adding new clients all the time.”
He continued, “Our network expansion strategy is driven by what our client feel is most important to them. Having said that, obviously Africa is a very important continent to us. Our goal is to cover all the other high volume corridors in North Africa in the not too distant future.”
Uberoi explained that Earthport’s niche in the remittance market was its single product focus on cross-border payments. They do not operate any other services on a white label basis.
Since they are solely focused on cross-border remittances, many obstacles are eliminated. Earthport can connect directly into local ACH systems: a problematic issue for many other remittance providers.
Such a direct process allows Earthport to operate on a very simple and transparent fee structure. Other costs such as landing fees and common bundle fees are also dropped.
Uberoi reiterated, “This is very difficult to do through the current border payments infrastructure. I think that is where we offer a white labeled and a completely transparent service. The client and their client always knows exactly the amount of money that is going to show up on the other end.”
Recently, Earthport announced that it received $10 million in funding. The funding was not just from any old investor, but the World Bank Group member, IFC.
“This is particularly important to Earthport because, firstly, the credibility that comes from being part of the World Bank Group and being validated by them is important in terms of our presence in the emerging markets.
Secondly, the IFC and World Bank have as a mandate to reduce the cost of remittances, which can form a fairly large part of the GDP of many emerging markets.”
Continuing with the theme of emerging markets, PYMNTS.com probed Uberoi about other developing areas that Earthport has on its radar.
“Our main focus is really to expand much more aggressively into the emerging markets, whether it’s in Asia, whether it’s in Africa, or whether it’s in Latin America. In addition to delivering payments into the region through remittances, there is a significant amount of flow out of those regions and within those regions and across borders,” Uberoi answered,
Uberoi highlighted Asia’s enormous landscape, and explained the number of intra-remittance flows in Asian regions alone is substantial.
Uberoi talked of Asian and revealed, “We want to have a presence there and start offering our services within the region.
We will use a part of the capital funding to actually expand our presence geographically.”
On a final note, Uberoi delivered the message that Earthport is focusing on improving the payments ecosystem. The white label company wants to focus on bringing financial inclusion to emerging markets, instead of focusing on competitors.
“Almost everybody we typically think of as competition ends up being either a client or a potential client,” Uberoi said. “So it’s one of those rare examples of an offering which really is taking out inefficiencies in the system rather than focusing on competition.”
To hear more Uberoi on Earthport’s vision and recent news, listen to the full podcast below.
*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.
Hank Uberoi, CEO, Earthport
Hank has served as CEO of Earthport since February 2010. Before joining Earthport, Hank focused on investments in technology, financial services and payments – with an emphasis on cross-border business models. Until April 2004 he was the Chief Operating Officer at Citadel Investment Group. Hank previously spent 14 years at Goldman Sachs, most recently as a partner and co-Chief Operating Officer of the technology division. He graduated from Williams College, Massachusetts with a BA, Magna Cum Laude.