REMITTANCES

Dubai 2017 | FINANCE | B2B

These companies are aggressively adopting new technologies to ensure their customers get the most out of their wages.

Osama Al Rahma
OSAMA AL RAHMA
CEO
Al Fardan Exchange
Sultan Al Mahmoud
SULTAN AL MAHMOUD
Managing Director
Wall Street Exchange

How are you facilitating remittances to destinations where there is not the same level financial infrastructure as in the UAE?

Osama Al Rahma: Financial inclusion is about having the entire ecosystem for remittances be transparent. For receiving remittances, we partner with the top regulatory financial institutions. In the case of India, we are connected to banks that are truly advanced in their adoption of technology. The country is one of the best in the world in terms of software engineering, and we find that their financial transfer infrastructure is setting global trends; for example, we use API with Indian banks, which is one of the latest technologies for exchanging remittances. The same trend is applicable to other receiving countries whose governments are paying attention to how these formal channels are contributing positively to their economies. For example, Pakistan developed its own remittance initiative that waives charges, and they have gained a lot of business by facilitating and encouraging formal remittance channels. We are looking to deliver what the consumers look for. This mainly relates to the adoption of technology and trying to provide what we call a personalized service that utilizes the technology that we have at our disposal.

Sultan Al Mahmoud Our core business is currency exchange and money transfers for individuals and corporations. 2016 was a strange year but, at the same time, a good one. India has greatly contributed to our business because the people that used to send cash did not have any other option when the government decided to come out with new bank notes. These people were looking for an alternative to notes, so they moved to wire transfers, which is also something that a lot of regulators are encouraging instead of the cash payout method. There were some challenges during that time, but now it is business as usual. Dubai also remains a trade hub, and there are lots of tourists and traders visiting the Emirate. There are a lot of businesses here that import goods from China, Europe, and the rest of the world. Therefore, on the corporate side we deal with many local businesses and help them complete transfers to their business partners in these countries. Meanwhile, we also deal with a lot of financial institutions and buy and sell currencies from them. For individuals, we mainly do transfers for expats who want to send money to their home countries.

What trends is the industry seeing in terms of technology systems?

OR There is widespread use of e-wallets in India, and the government has demonetized to further this shift toward digital payments. In 2016, the UAE published the digital payment law, which provides guidelines as to how each country should act. This is reflective of a broader change in the move toward digital and artificial intelligence-based products. For example, high-resolution biometric identification technologies are shaping the entire industry. Most financial institutions are engaging with this, which the regulators are aware of and developing a clear legal framework that can facilitate this development in a responsible way. Our sector as a whole is being enhanced—not disrupted—by technology, and we need to continue to develop this capacity for the benefit of both parties.

SM Diversification and strategies that cater to this are key to our plans going forward. Our vision is to become a total financial solutions provider, but we are still in financial services and introducing new products and services. We are mainly targeting government departments and private companies that do collections. We assist those organizations, both government and private, to help them in the collection of their revenues. This is the main role that we are playing at the moment. We have partnered with the Dubai police and are appointing collectors to accept their fines and payments. Both the public and private sectors are very important for us.