Building a Network with a Closer-to-Market Strategy
Sudhesh Giriyan is a mechanical engineer by training, so it comes as little surprise that one of his proudest business achievements is the network that Xpress Money has engineered in more than 170 countries.
Giriyan came to the United Arab Emirates from India in 2000 and was new to the money transfer industry when he joined Xpress Money in 2003. “What appealed was the global nature of the business,” Giriyan says. In previous jobs in India, he was responsible for domestic markets, he adds, saying, “This calibre of exposure does not lie elsewhere.”
When Giriyan assumed responsibility, Xpress Money had only a few corridors and a smaller team that began expanding quickly. Focused on a strategy to be closer to the market, the company added regional teams to cover the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas, East Asia and Pacific, and Southeast Asia. In terms of company functions, Xpress Money added skilled support, including marketing strategy and human resources, in order to increase the level of functions that would help the front-line business development team. Then, those regional teams got to work accelerating the partner network.
“You need to touch base with partners on the ground to keep them apprised, to get them on board with marketing initiatives and to develop the business,” says Giriyan. While the original Xpress Money network largely comprised local money transfer companies as agent partners; the regional teams eventually incorporated banks, non-banking financial institutions, and fintech companies to the global network.
“We have been responsible for expanding our network to what it is today,” says Giriyan. “This is both on the sourcing side, meaning the origination side as well as the termination side, or the last-mile distribution network.”
On the termination side, Xpress Money continues to enhance its capabilities. The company is constantly researching existing operators in key markets – from banks to telcos – and signing them up as partners. Delivery channels of money transfer service within the brand include cash, account credit and mobile wallet.
Account credit service is one channel that the company finds particularly encouraging. World Bank reports global volumes of remittances reached $689 billion in 2018, and Giriyan cites industry estimates that about 75 percent of that money is being sent into bank accounts. He adds that in a country like India, of the $79 in remittances, industry estimates show that 80 percent is going into accounts.
“We have constantly been assessing more countries to expand our account credit and mobile wallet services,” Giriyan adds.
Today, with a network spanning 170 countries and including strong partnerships over the years, Xpress Money has the expertise and the technology to deliver remittance solutions for every unique business need. Furthermore, Xpress Money's business solutions can eliminate any obstacles to enable a seamlessly functioning business.
Licensing and compliance are both top-of-mind challenges for the company, Giriyan says, adding that obtaining licenses is “a task in itself.” Once the license is obtained, he says, Xpress Money lines up the partners.
“You need to play by the rulebook, build good relations with regulators,” he emphasises. “It comes with challenges. It’s not easy operating in certain geographies.”
In the money transfer industry, the way the business is seen by the banks is very different and it’s a challenge to have those bank accounts, according to Giriyan. “To do that you need to make sure you are compliant all the time and don’t cross the line,” he says. “You need to be a strong operator who is straightforward and knows what you’re doing.”
To that end, Xpress Money invests in a large compliance team that includes both a centralised team and regionally based teams. In total, 15 percent of Xpress Money’s employees work in compliance, and that percentage is increasing.
Giriyan says he is optimistic about the future. He cites a few recent products that have the company innovating and moving into areas that not many competitors have yet entered. Each of the new solutions is designed to suit the needs of businesses. They include:
The first solution, Xpress Money FLEX, is for businesses in the remittance or financial services space looking to expand their global reach. They can connect via Application Program Interface (API) to Xpress Money’s network while using their own front-end systems.
The second solution, Xpress Money ONE, is for any business that has a customer-facing digital presence as it enables a brand to create its own money transfer platform through a white-labelled website with its own brand identity. Compliance (KYC, AML, regulatory reporting), agent management, online self-service, money transfer app and money transfer software are included in the solution.
The third solution, Xpress Money BIZ, is a platform designed specifically for offline and retail businesses to process remittance transactions for their customers. It has a user-friendly interface designed to make it possible for any staff in the business to process remittance transactions for customers.
Giriyan cites client WorldRemit as a great example of an Xpress Money FLEX solution, in which on the sourcing side you have the digital operator WorldRemit, while on the other side you have Xpress Money’s physical network.
“We will continue expanding our horizons,” Giriyan says. “We have moved beyond the way a traditional money transfer company works. The FLEX model is not a typical solution, for example, and that is why we are going to be the preferred platform of choice.”
Giriyan credits IAMTN as playing a vital role in the industry. “IAMTN brings so many people from the industry together,” he says. “You have leaders coming together and talking about successes and challenges and what can be done collectively. It’s an industry worth $689 billion and we need a forum like this.”