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Tech firm unveils service that transfers money via Facebook in Kenya

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A Singapore-based tech firm has launched an innovative money transfer service, Fastacash, targeting Kenyans in the diaspora.

The service links the user’s debit card to the platform, allowing one to send money through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to M-Pesa or bank accounts.

Fastacash service targets remittances to Kenya from the United Kingdom and one can share photos, videos and more in the transfer.

“We have taken time to understand our audience and appreciate that the majority of migrant communities have a sense of responsibility and duty as well as a very strong emotional connection to their family and friends back home, whom they support financially,” said Vince Tallent, chief executive of Fastacash.

“We offer a new way of transferring money online and through mobile phones, with just a secure link through any social network of choice,” he said.

It gives the sender an option to add an emotional touch to the transaction by attaching photos, audio, videos and messages.

“Every action of sharing is accompanied by an emotional sentiment,” said Mr Tallent, adding that this makes Fastacash a ‘social way to send money.’

It costs £1 (Sh119) to send every £100 (Sh11,912) on the Fastacash platform and beneficiaries do not pay any fees to receive the money.

Fastacash is banking on its one per cent transaction charge to attract users to the service and grow customer base.

“We are easy on your pocket with no hidden fees,” the executive said.

Mr Tallent said that making the service online makes it cheaper and smooth as it cuts out the inefficiencies associated with traditional money transfer channels which involve cash handling and distribution agents which ultimately increase the cost of sending money.

The money is sent in shillings, at an exchange rate determined by the service provider.

The real-time remittance is delivered through M-Pesa and bank accounts and notifications of the transaction can be sent via e-mail, social networks, instant messaging platforms or short message service (SMS).

Recipients receive a link notifying them that they have received cash and once you sign in, the beneficiary will view the transfer details along with the video, photo and message that is attached.

Fastacash targets the young and tech savvy Kenyans studying and working in the UK who support their families and friends or have investment projects back home.

The service is riding on the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and exploit the power of instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp to drive diaspora remittances.

“We make sharing money simple for everyone by enabling this across their favourite social networks,” the firm said.

Fastacash is the brainchild of two techies— Shankar Narayanan and Michael Wee. Mr Narayanan said he got the idea as he was seeking a solution to his daughter’s habits of always asking him for his credit card.

He also noticed that his daughter, just like himself, spent a lot of time on social and messaging platforms to keep in touch with friends and family. This got him thinking. How could he combine social and payments? And that was the birth of Fastacash.

Mr Narayan is a seasoned techie and previously founded Tagit, a global IT firm that designs, develops, and deploys end-to-end consumer applications focused on banking and financial industry.

Mr Wee is the founder of Infamous, a company that develops user experience solutions for mobile and web platforms targeting banks. Its previous clients include Standard Chartered Bank, United Overseas Bank, POSB Bank Singapore and Citibank India.

Fastacash is financially backed by three Singapore-based venture capital and PE firms namely Jungle Ventures, Spring Seeds Capital and Funding The Future.

The entry of Fastacash puts it in a head-to-head competition with rival money transfer providers such as Western Union, MoneyGram, Xpress Money, NationHela and Pingit.

Kenya’s diaspora inflows have been growing at an average of 30 per cent in the last three years, reaching Sh99.4 billion ($1.17 billion) in 2012, according to data from Central Bank of Kenya.

Diaspora remittances for the first 10 months of this year were recorded at Sh91.2 billion ($1.06 billion), up 9.9 per cent compared to a similar period a year earlier.

Despite this growth in volume inflows, the cost of sending money to Kenya from key sources such as Europe, Middle East and North America remains high, at an average of 17 per cent of the amount being remitted.

The choice to pioneer Fastacash in UK–Kenya corridor is based on the high number of Kenyans living in the country as workers, students or residents.

Europe— with the UK as Kenya’s biggest source of diaspora remittances— is ranked second in term of volume inflows and accounts for about a third or 28 per cent of total annual remittances.

North America, mainly the US and Canada, remains the leading source of dollar inflows, bringing in 45 per cent of total remittances. The rest of the world, largely Asia, Pacific and the Middle East rakes in the remaining 27 per cent.

Despite this growth in volume inflows, the cost of sending money to Africa from key sources such as Europe, Middle East and North America remain as high, at an average of 17 per cent of the amount being remitted.

The money remittance service can be accessed online at www.fastacash.com from PCs and mobile devices such as tablets, mobile phones or by downloading the Fastacash app from the iPhone app store or Google Play for Android-powered devices.

-Nation

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