Remittance Marketplace Model Unlocks Payments Innovation for GCC Expats

As elsewhere, in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, the remittance market has traditionally been dominated by a few major players.

According to Amir Fardghassemi, founder and CEO at UAE-based financial super-app Jingle Pay, that lack of competition has contributed to a system where high transaction fees and unreasonable exchange rates are the order of the day.

To increase competition in the space and make it easier for consumers to shop around for the best rates, the Dubai firm has set up a marketplace model that Fardghassemi likened to an “Amazon of remittances.”

For example, consumers that want to send money to another country, “don’t need to cross-check different currencies and fees across different exchange houses or providers,” Fardghassemi told PYMNTS in an interview.

In fact, from a single interface they can “see what everyone’s offering and either select the best price with the best payout, or they can select one brand over another if they have specific loyalty [with] a certain provider,” he added.

However, remittance services are just the beginning — “the hook” that attracts new customers.

With that, the company has included additional value-added services into the application,  including peer-to-peer payments, pay requests, open banking and card services, by leveraging the data they’ve gathered from customers.

And to take its remittance service up a notch, Jingle Pay recently forged a strategic partnership with global payments giant MoneyGram to enable consumers in the UAE to send money to over 200 countries globally — a move which Fardghassemi said opens up a lot of corridors for the firm.

Read more: MoneyGram Powers Remittances for UAE’s Jingle Pay App

What’s more, Jingle Pay users have the option to send money to bank accounts, card accounts, cash pickup locations and mobile wallets: “The more providers you have, and the players like MoneyGram […] make the whole proposition a bit more interesting because there are more options to choose from,” he emphasized.

Bank-FinTech Collaboration

According to Fardghassemi, the GCC nations — United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait — are home to a significant number of expats who send money to other countries across the wider Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP) region.

“It’s almost a religious thing where they support their families, they’re working here [and] they send money back home regularly,” he said of these workers. This means that the ability to send money instantly and have the option to send different forms of payout are critical to ease the process, he added.

Learn more: How Real-Time Payments Can Unleash Economic Growth in the GCC

So, in aiming to reach the stage where it can offer a wide range of international payment services to its customers, Jingle Pay has had to build out its network of partners and establish working relationships with banks and FinTechs in multiple jurisdictions.

Fardghassemi also noted the change in the general approach banks are taking as they rethink their position in the cross-border payments market.

Whereas some years back most banks viewed remittance-focused FinTechs like Jingle Pay as competitors, he said there is a rising trend for traditional banks to adapt to a banking-as-a-service (BaaS) model and leverage their infrastructure and licenses to collaborate and generate revenue from FinTechs.

“It’s only complementary to the products and services [banks] have […] I don’t see it as competition, but as a new revenue line,” he said.


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