Is there a ‘next big thing’ for money transfers? TFT Associate Editor Kate Goldfinch, sat down with Fin.do Founder and CEO Zhana Dar, to discuss all things payments.
Kate: What will the future of the global payments market look like?
Zhana: I think we’ll continue to see sustained growth in segments where the regulatory environment is ‘friendly’ – so, B2B and B2C payments. Here, business models are established, risks are factored in, a variety of payment platforms have emerged. So there is plenty of room to innovate and grow.
In my opinion, consumer-to-consumer – or P2P (peer-to-peer) – payments are where we’ll see more disruptive developments in the next few years. Technologically, the market is ready (for example, the infrastructure to support real-time transfers exists), so C2C growth will be mostly economically and business-driven.
The sharing economy and the so-called ‘gig’ economy are big drivers of the demand for P2P (peer-to-peer) payments, so I’m excited to keep an eye on this area in particular.
P2P transactions amounted to $18 billion in 2018 alone in Ukraine
Kate: Tell us more about Fin.do and how you came up with the core idea of your service.
Zhana: As it’s often the case, Fin.do was born out of a real-life problem that I myself experienced as a consumer.
When I relocated to Ukraine, I started looking for money transfer solutions to support my family back in Israel. I quickly discovered, to my surprise, that card-to-card transfers are not just commonly used in Ukraine but that there is a mature, growing market for such services.
P2P transactions amounted to $18 billion
in 2018 alone in Ukraine – that is almost 36% of all non-cash payments. In fact, Ukraine and the CIS countries rely heavily on online banking and accept a variety of payment instruments, some of which still have low adoption in many Western European countries.
I find this intriguing. Technically, P2P transfer solutions are available everywhere in Europe and beyond – from established platforms such as Western Union to newer solutions like Transferwise. But what is lacking is true flexibility for users who own different currency accounts to make transfers in the currency they need, without having to incur excessive currency conversion fees.
With Fin.do, my goal is to provide a reliable technology platform for such payments while, at the same time, educating people about risks, transparency, and the importance of sensitive and personal data protection.
Customers in Europe can choose the currency that is most convenient to them irrespective of the country where they live or transfer funds.
Kate: How does it work?
Zhana: Fin.do aims to simplify P2P money transfers for individual users.
Our mobile app is available for both iOS and Android devices, and users have to simply link their cards to the app.
For each and every card, we run a card verification to make sure the issuing bank and currency are valid, and that outbound and/or inbound transactions are permitted.
Having the card currency information allows us to avoid double currency conversion and, as such, help our users save on fees. Users are able to send money between different currencies (we presently support 180 currencies) at the MasterCard exchange rate.
FX rate and fees are fixed, and users are shown the amount that will be charged on their card and the amount that will be received accurately and with full transparency.
We also provide multi-language support, online and offline customer support, reporting, and analytics. Currency flexibility is our biggest differentiator. Customers in Europe can choose the currency that is most convenient to them irrespective of the country where they live or transfer funds.
my goal is to provide a reliable technology platform for such payments while, at the same time, educating people about risks, transparency, and the importance of sensitive and personal data protection.
Kate: Do you have a large team developing and supporting the Fin.do service?
Zhana: Yes, our team has grown quite a bit.
We are headquartered in Kyiv, Ukraine, but also have offices in Poland, Lithuania, Israel, and Romania. We rely on a distributed workforce that includes process managers, server admins, developers, management and accounting staff, marketing, and advisers. This gives us a lot of flexibility in the way we operate.
Kate: Who is your target audience? Why did you choose this particular market?
Zhana: Fin.do addresses three main customer groups.
The first, freelancers, who often own multiple bank accounts because they work with customers in different geographies. Our app makes it easy to manage payments from clients in different countries in one place.
The second group are expats, who need to be able to transfer money to their home countries in the shortest time possible. This comes with certain difficulties, as not everyone owns a bank account or card issued in their home country.
We even see usage from people who work abroad and are paid in cash, but use prepaid cards that they top up in order to use Fin.do. So this is an interesting demographic that we would like to serve better.
A more ‘premium’ user group are owners of foreign assets (such as real estate), who transfer money between their accounts. Here, the income is higher and Fin.do’s value proposition is convenience and speed of transfer rather than low cost of transfer
We enable real-time, international payments in which the funds can be received within seconds
Kate: Do you have competitors in the global market?
Zhana: Of course, the financial market is quite crowded.
From bank transfers to SWIFT-transfers and other P2P platforms, we are closely following the evolution of the financial space.
What differentiates us, however, is the flexibility that we offer – both when it comes to currency availability, and to the speed of transfer. We enable real-time, international payments in which the funds can be received within seconds. This is a huge benefit for our customers.
Kate: Which aspect of international payments is most important from the consumer perspective?
Zhana: Dynamic is shifting in the way people work and live today, so there is a growing need for consolidation or integration of services within a single platform.
People in different countries may have entirely different payment preferences, and we understand this very well. So, our goal is to accommodate as many payment methods and tools as possible.
Right now, we focus almost exclusively on card-to-card payments. But in the future, we want to explore payment methods used in other geographies and look for ways to reach new audiences. This is what will really boost adoption for our service.
As an example, just think of Alipay or WeChat in China, or Paytm in India – they have gained massive adoption and can be a good way for us to enter new markets.
Our long-term goal is to become an integration platform, a service where every customer finds the fastest and best way to manage transfers for their needs.