Recently at "Slush Singapore"  known to be the premier startup launchpad of Southeast Asia, Oranuch Lerdsuwankij , CEO of Techsauce Media Co sat down with Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise to pick his brains on online international transfers in the banking sector.

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'Sending money abroad is deceptively expensive, thanks to the hidden charges we’ve all been forced to pay. Now TransferWise lets expats, foreign students and businesses move money wherever it's needed, at the lowest possible cost. No hidden charges, no headache.'

What has made you different from the others like money transfer?

Most people are using the banks to transfer money internationally but the banks are giving a very poor service and charging too much for it.

If you go to the bank you will be charged between 25- 50 dollars per transaction and add the exchange rate on top of that which is another 3 - 5%

We are 8 times cheaper at Transferwise and its instantaneous. It’s really straightforward and can be done online so there are no forms you have to fill out. There are more than a million people using this service and a lot of it is generated through word of mouth.

What is your strategy in Southeast Asia and what is the biggest challenge in running a business here?

Our strategy is really simple. Bring Transferwise to all the markets such as Japan, Australia and Singapore and looking into launching into other markets.

How about Thailand?

Not yet, we hope to in the future but nothing is set in stone right now. We are looking to connect people within the regions and also to connect the region with the rest of the world. For example, people sending money from Thailand to the US or Japan to Australia, so we are solving a global problem. We estimate that 5 - 10 trillion dollars move across borders every year by consumers.

How do you work with the MAS in Singapore?

Singapore has a fantastic regulator MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore). Before you had to check everything with the customer in person at the Bank. Transferwise is the first company to work with MIS and be authorized to do it all online in Singapore.  All you need now is a passport and a photograph and you can transfer money online.

 Do you have plans to use blockchain with your company?

No. what is blockchain? No one knows what it is? It’s a very powerful concept but we are yet to see how to use blockchain to do something. it's very early days. People don’t want Bitcoin, they want Thai baht in Thailand for example. If we can find a way for blockchain to help us do it then we will surely use it but today there is no way that blockchain can do what we want to do.

Can you tell us about the future of money transfers in the South East Asian market?

I think it's super simple. We are looking at what we achieved in the UK and Europe and we are looking to do it everywhere in the world. In the UK, we have more than 10% market share which means more than 10% of people who make international monetary transfers use Transferwise in the U.K which is 8 times cheaper and instantaneously so we believe this is the way to go. 

We are also looking to grow our market in the U.K to 20% and looking to take 10% of Australia and 10% of Singapore. Let's try and secure the markets and make it extremely user-friendly on their phone. It’s all about giving back to consumers giving power to consumers versus banks who are misleading customers for a poor service.

What about Entrepreneurship? What has been learned and applied?

It comes down to a couple of very simple things - look at a huge problem in a big market. Skype for example in telecommunications solved a huge problem. Have a solution that is 10 times better than what is already on offer  - Skype offering free calls and videos is an example.

Transferwise is offering the service for an extremely low rate, therefore, solving a huge problem in the market. Its also about doing it quickly. You need to roll it out quickly globally before anyone else does so you don’t have to worry about competition. Look at a problem on a big scale and find a solution that is 10 times better and do it quickly.

Do you have any advice for regulators?

Regulators have to think about consumers. They need to look at entrepreneurship. They need to make sure that the market has innovative solutions that benefit consumers - too often they are protecting old systems. They need to look at Entrepreneurs and how to facilitate them too.

This cutting edge and innovative way of sending money electronically, internationally will revolutionize the system with an unbeatable interest rate. This will enable Transferwise to dominate the market in any country and improve the lives of millions of its customers with a user-centric, mobile outlook.

For more information on Transferwise and the services, they offer head over to https://transferwise.com/.

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