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Instarem ties up with DCB Bank to offer outward remittances

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Digital cross-border remittances services provider Instarem, which received RBI nod to launch outbound money transfers last September, has tied up with DCB Bank to launch operations from here.

The Singapore-based firm offers services in eight markets now including India, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia among others with an annually billing of around USD 2 billion in volume, on which it charges a flat 0.5 per cent of the transferred amount as it service charges.

According to the company, this is much cheaper than banks and other similar operators, which charge around 3 per cent as forex charges over and above Rs 1,000-1,500 as transaction fee.

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It entered Europe with operations from Lithuania last month and is on course to enter the US soon.

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Since beginning of operations in August 2015, it has raised USD 18 million in two rounds of funding from marquee investor like Global Founders Capital, Vertex Ventures (VC arm of the Singapore sovereign fund Temasek Holdings), Fullerton Financial Holdings, GSR Ventures and SBI-FMO Emerging Asia Financial Sector Fund. Temasek owns a 30 per cent stake.

Instarem is licensed as a money services business in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, India, Canada and the US and powers local payments to over 55 countries.

Chief executive officer Prajit Nanu claimed that according to the World Bank, theirs is one of the cheapest services in terms of fees the company follows a zero-margin forex rate model.

"We've received the Reserve Bank permission to operate as an outbound money transfer services provider last September. Accordingly, we have launched the services in partnership with DCB Bank today," Nanu told PTI here today.

Instarem co-promoted by Mumbai-bred Nanu along with an American, is one of the first non-banking entities to offer outward remittances service from the country, he said.

Nanu said the company is looking to go public in 2020 and will turn profitable in from early 2019. He said they employ 150 people of which 100 are based in Mumbai alone.

He said one of his focus areas in the operations here will be students who are going for overseas studies apart from others who are looking for leisure, medical, entertainment- related activities overseas.

"Traditional ways of transferring money via banks and money transfer operators have been expensive due to high transfer charges along with hidden fees that are not known to customers," he said.

Praveen Kutty, head of retail and SME banking at DCB Bank said Instarem is disrupting international money transfer business with its innovative digital platform and zero-margin forex rate model.

The World Bank estimates the average cost of cross- border remittances at 7.09 per cent of the amount sent globally. In contrast, Instarem effects overseas money transfers at mid-market forex rate-a midpoint between the 'buy' and 'sell' rates of currencies in the forex markets- sourced directly from the open market, and adds no margins to forex conversion rates.

"With our zero-margin forex positioning, superior platform and customer service, we are confident of capturing a substantial market of the outbound money transfers from here," Nanu said.

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