A global giant

Thousands of people around the world rely on Dubai-based Instant Cash to send and receive money.
A global giant
By Diana Milne
Sun 09 Sep 2007 04:00 AM

With a presence in 40 countries worldwide and handling millions of dollars worth of money transfer transactions daily - Instant Cash World Wide is also one of the few global operations to have its headquarters in Dubai.

It is part of Wall Street Exchange which is a member of the Emirates Post Group since being taken over by the government-run firm in 2005.

I’m confident that in five years we will be at a stage where we are well established worldwide.

Khalid Hassan took over as CEO of Instant Cash three months ago and says he already has ambitious plans for the product's global expansion.

You took over as CEO of Instant Cash three months ago. What challenges do you face in your new role?

It's a challenging role and there's lots to be done.

The biggest challenge I face in this role is meeting the company's targets for global expansion.

I believe I am well prepared for this role because before this I worked for Emirates Airline for 11 years and I was in charge of their offices in the GCC, Africa and Europe.

There are similarities between the two roles because in both you are offering a service to the public.

How does the Instant Cash product work?

Instant Cash is a global money transfer company which facilitates people to transfer money from A to B, from a place to a place instantly.

Customers can go into any exchange house which we have tie-ups with.

You just go and tell them that you want to send for instance AED1000 to the UK using Instant Cash.

You can either transfer that money to a bank account or to another exchange house where it can be picked up by whoever is receiving it.

Whether there would be a charge from the bank you are transferring the money to would depend on the agreement we have with that bank.

Certain banks say we don't want to charge our clients.

Others say this is a service we are providing so we are going to charge for it.

We are expanding our network of tie-ups with banks and exchange houses very rapidly and making it more and more easy for customers to transfer or receive money wherever they are.

Our system is a web-based system so the client comes to the exchange house, fills in the formalities that are required and the money is sent the same day.

What is the advantage to customers of transferring money using Instant Cash rather than through bank?

Well for a start some of our customers don't have bank accounts.

After they have been paid each month they want to send the money to their families back home as soon as possible and we make it possible for them to do that.

Is it also cheaper for customers to transfer money abroad through Instant Cash rather than through their banks.

The exchange rates we charge are more favourable and our charges are lower.

We have fixed exchange rates but certain exchange houses play around with their margin so they can get more on the exchange rate if they are losing transaction charges.

The transaction charges vary from AED20 to around AED30. Europe is the most expensive place to transfer money to.

Currently we are running a promotion whereby it only costs AED14 to send money to India.

Banks have their own clients they want to target - they don't want to target just anybody.

And those clients don't think of one dirham here and there when it comes to charges, they want to call the bank, transfer the money and that's it.

The exchange houses are basically targeted at those people who think about fils - both when it comes to charges and exchange rates.

How many locations is Instant Cash available in?

We have more than 200 locations in the UAE including exchange houses and banks.

Globally there is a network of exchange houses and banks that Instant Cash is delivered from and where it delivers to in around 40 countries.

What makes your product different from that of your competitors?

We have a unique service - we think about the customers first.

We can do credit to account transfers which the other competitors can't do and it means that we can deliver cash directly into people's bank accounts very quickly.

Do you face a lot of competition in the UAE?

The UAE is a very competitive market.

It's also a huge market with a lot of potential. When it comes to remittances it is the third biggest remittance market.

As a sending country, within the GCC, it is the second biggest market after Saudi Arabia.

The size of the market is worth around AED40m globally.
There are different countries that different money transfer companies focus on.

Some focus on the Philippines market and are strong in that area while others focus on the Arab countries.

The charges the different companies have differ for some countries while for others they charge the same.

When it comes to money transfers to India the market is very competitive.

So we make sure that we offer competitive promotions for customers transferring money to India.

Who are your biggest customers?

Our customers are mainly expatriates. And expatriates from the subcontinent are our biggest customers.

The second biggest customer group would be Filipinos, Indonesians and then some from Arab countries.

A lot of people are sending the majority of their wages back home.

Our customers' salaries can vary from AED600 to AED 1,500 and normally they keep a minimum amount of money for themselves and they send the rest to their families.

They come here for that purpose - they come to support their families back home.

What expansion plans does your company have?

We are very well established in the Indian subcontinent, which covers Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka and we are well established as well in the UAE.

Now we plan to go and expand our network in Europe. Now as we speak we are very well established in the UK and we are planning now to go and spread our network across the whole of Europe.

There are many expatriates living in the UK and they want to send their money back home.

The way we'll expand our network there is by establishing tie-ups with exchange houses and banks in the UK and the rest of Europe.

We are also expanding in Arabic countries.

We want to expand our network Jordan, Lebanon and Syria where we have many existing customers.

Instant Cash already has a strong presence in the GCC and the north part of Africa.

What specific targets does your company have for growth?

We are trying to build up a network whereby if a client goes anywhere in the world and he wants to use Instant Cash then he can.

As we speak we are growing at a rate of 16% to 20% annually and that reflects the fact that the size of our network across the world is expanding rapidly.

Globally we have 14,000 locations, which are exchange houses that offer Instant Cash and banks that receive it.

We operate as we speak in 40 countries - and we are expanding.

Still we are in a state where there is a lot to be done when it comes to building a network and our aim is to cover the whole world.

That's our aim and that's our target and that's our focus in the coming year.

We have a plan where we are aiming to cover all the potential countries within five years.

I'm confident that in five years we will be at a stage to tell people, we are well established across the world.

It is an aggressive target we have - but you have to have an aggressive target to achieve your goal.

I want to be in a place where the customers should not think twice before using instant cash to transfer money.

What do you think is the key to achieving this kind of success?

You have to have very professional staff, a team that is dedicated to the company and who knows what customer service is and who can facilitate and cater to the needs and wants of the clients.

I have an excellent team, very good support from my management and my seniors.

If you have those kinds of people on board you will achieve your target."

Yes we are young in this field but we have lots of new ideas, good ideas. And those ideas will be beneficial to the client, to the customer.

Do you have any plans to start offering different sorts of services to customers?

What we are trying to add is more features to the service like sending SMS notifications to customers once they have transferred their money and once it has been received.

We are also planning to make it possible for customers to conduct transactions online.

The SMS service was launched earlier this year and is currently offered to customers transferring money to and from India.

Customers often don't have the time to go and check and call the beneficiary and say have you received the money. So the SMS service is very convenient for them and also very reassuring.

Services like this will increase the popularity of our product and will help to maintain the loyalty of our large customer base.

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