Working with MoneyGram will make transfers “as seamless as sending a text message,” Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Astra Tech’s founder and the CEO of Botim, said in the release. “This represents our ability to connect people not only socially but also financially while demonstrating our arrival as the first chat-based communication platform that enables people to send money home with a click of a button.”
Astra purchased Botim, a voice-calling platform with 90 million registered users, earlier this month to create a Gulf region super app, an all-in-one mobile application offering a variety of services, letting users perform a range of tasks within the apps, rather than needing to rely on multiple different apps.
In this case, Botim lets users pay bills, access government services, and order food and groceries using the app. What consumers wanted, however, was a way to make money transfers, the companies said.
“After recently distributing a poll asking consumers which new service they were most interested in accessing through the BOTIM app, more than 2 million responses in 48 hours indicated that international money transfer was the top priority,” according to the release.
Botim has taken off in the UAE, thanks to a population that’s largely from overseas and a nationwide ban on calls from popular apps like Skype and FaceTime. That makes the company one of the few apps people can use to make voice calls.
The region as a whole has a wealth of workers from other countries who send money back home, as PYMNTS noted last year in an interview with Amir Fardghassemi, founder and CEO at UAE-based financial super app Jingle Pay.
According to Fardghassemi, the Gulf countries — which include Bahrain as well as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait — are home to ex-pats who send money to other countries in the larger 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, adding that this means the ability to transfer money instantly and in different forms of payout is crucial to ease the process.
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