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Tech City: Digital money transfer service helping migrants

PUBLISHED: 17:36 06 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:36 06 August 2015

Azimo Founders

Azimo Founders

2015 Wojtek Kogut

The chief executive of a digital money transfer service, which has been recognised by the United Nations as one of the most comprehensive and best value transfer companies in the UK, has spoken about how technology is streamlining the money transfer sector.

Michael Kent, 40, co-founder of Islington-based Azimo, said: “I saw the huge number of people still sending money traditionally on the high street and all the problems around that process, the inconvenience and high costs as

well as having to go to retail locations.

“And most customers are having problems receiving money as you have to deal with a third party.

“So rather than going to Western Union for example, and paying anywhere up to 10 per cent for the privilege, you can transfer money on your phone using a bank card or bank deposit.

“It is more instant and much cheaper. We charge 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent whereas the average here is about seven or eight per cent and in Europe it is 10.”

He added: “East London is really relevant to the market of people we address who are sending remittances, given the multicultural make-up of the area.

“We send money from any internet connected device to about 200 countries now.”

Money can be received in a number of ways, including cash payout locations, bank account to bank account, via courier, mobile wallets and adding airtime minutes to mobiles.

At Azimo, which means “to lend” in Swahili, customers are primarily working migrants who are sending regular transfers back home to support communities. By lowering the cost of transferring money overseas, the service is having a positive impact on many of the poorest parts of the world.

Michael said: “If you take the fact that global remittances are about $200billion a year from Europe and if you take the cost down from 10 per cent to five percent or even two per cent, there is a huge release of money which is going from big listed companies into people’s pockets, mainly hard working migrants.

“That has its own impact immediately in terms of people’s spending power and investment into their local economy.

The second thing is you are seeing people recognise the problem of financial inclusion in areas where people don’t have bank accounts and people receiving money can start on that journey to becoming financially included and that is really big.

“It allows them to educate themselves, to hold themselves high.

“Digital gives you that power – that’s why it’s exciting and that’s why we get up every morning to do this.”

He continued: “There used to be a travel agent on every high street but now literally everyone books everything online.

“Financial services are going the same way; in five to 10 years you will be able to do everything on your phone and there are people in the space who are trying to make the future happen faster.”

Azimo recently announced a $20million Series B funding round and is expanding its team.

To find out more, visit azimo.com with the code MKVIP for a free transfer.

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