By SUNIL RAO
Leading remittances and financial services provider UAE Exchange is opening its eighth Canadian branch — and its second in Edmonton — amid a raft of ambitious initiatives in various stages of implementation in the region, top company officials informed media outlets in Brampton this week.
Among these is the commencement of remittance to the Caribbean Corridor from Canada, as well as plans to set up a bank in India.
The company has also set in motion plans to open at least 20 branches throughout Canada by 2015, Promoth Manghat, Vice President – Global Operations, said while on a visit to Canada this week.
UAE Exchange established a beach-head in Canada as recently as in 2009. Over the four years, it has clocked up impressive year-on-year remittances and other business growth of 30 per cent, Manghat said.
“This year we’ve witnessed even higher growth of 50 per cent — but that’s because of the depreciating India rupee and other currency fluctuations, and we expect our growth trajectory to once again resume our ‘slower’ 30 per cent trajectory,” he said.
The company’s global operations chief claimed the company had grabbed a 6 per cent chunk — fully $22.5 billion — of the worldwide remittances business, currently estimated by the World Bank at around $500 billion — and growing.
With clearance also expected for the planned bank from Indian regulator Reserve Bank of India “anytime now”, along with a raft of other retail services in the pipeline, the privately-held company initially started by UAE-based entrepreneur and businessman B.R. Shetty appears strategically poised to spearhead its expansion into multiple upstream and downstream sectors.
Manghat however declined to be drawn on the possibility of UAE Exchange going public.
He was more forthcoming on the value of a banker’s word.
Accepting that the reputation of bankers and financial institutions had taken a severe beating since the near-collapse of the global banking system in 2008, he underlined the need for the sector to restore its credibility by putting its money where its mouth is.
“This is the reason we ourselves have always strived to work sincerely — along with our clients, by constantly leveraging emerging technology to upgrade quality service standards, and by partnering with the community on social initiatives. We also operate across the world — which means jurisdictions with a range of various national financial regulatory authorities… and as we all know the financial regulations in the Americas, for instance, are extremely stringent — and we’ve never ever faced any issues.”
He pointed out when a person sends money through any third operator, there is always an element of anxiety involved. “We try to minimize this anxiety through our services. Note, for instance, our Flash Remittance services to India, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with select banks, wherein the customer can transfer money to their loved ones bank account within minutes, and the remitter and beneficiary gets a text alert conforming the credit.
“The system works even after hours, and on the weekends,” he added.
UAE Exchange currently operates in more than 30 countries worldwide. Apart from individual remittances, it is also carving out a strong niche in the B2B area by targeting SMEs.
A new B2B pilot has already been conducted south of the border — where it has a strong presence across most of the states — and is being introduced shortly, before being rolled out elsewhere across the Americas.
Manghat noted the company last year moved remittances worth $24 billion. He estimated the company enjoys a 10 per cent market share on the Subcontinent. India accounted for $7 billion flowing through its operations, while Pakistan accounted for $1.4 billion, Bangladesh for $1.2 billion, and Sri Lanka for $700 million.
Apart from the Caribbean, the company is also launching remittances services to the Latam region, he said.
Gurpreet Singh Bedi, Head Business Development & Operations – Canada, said UAE Exchange currently has one branch each in Brampton, Rexdale, Malton, Calgary, Surrey and Vancouver, and two now in Edmonton. Plans are in the pipeline to expand the network to twenty Branches spread all across Canada by 2016.
It has further planned expansion into Quebec, Manitoba and GTA during 2014, as part of its strategy to improve market penetration to 20 physical outlets across Canada by 2015.
Ajit Paul, Regional Head – Americas, added that this part of the world contributed 10 per cent of UAE Exchange’s overall remittances volume. The company, which is also very strong across the Middle East, is also growing very fast across Africa, with a presence in 10 countries there. Globally, the company claims a customer base of 6 million, with an average 300,000 customers tapping into its services every day.
By SUNIL RAO