Majority of Philippine and Indian migrant workers receive their salaries in cash. Only those who work in offices or occupy managerial positions have bank accounts and debit cards. Migrant workers do not qualify for credit cards either, regardless of their income levels, because they are temporary residents in the countries where they work. Consequently, migrant workers are not able to fully enjoy the benefits of e-commerce.
For instance, migrant workers have to pay cash upon delivery for items they purchase online. To purchase airline tickets, they go to traditional travel agents. Cross-border purchases, e.g. Indians residing in Dubai who want to order items on Flipkart for delivery to their families in Mumbai, could be tagged as high-risk and therefore denied. PayRemit is tapping into these opportunities to change things. With PayRemit, it is now possible for migrant workers to shop online, and then pay with cash at their convenience.
There is a lot of hype about e-wallets serving unbanked markets. However, in the niche markets that PayRemit serves — Philippine and Indian migrant workers in the Middle East, Asia, and parts of Europe — cash is king! In addition, the company is building their entire e-commerce business based on this premise.
PayRemit, The Company Which Came Forward For The Migrant Workers
The company behind PayRemit is Ventaja International Corp. Ventaja is a fintech with a remittance license. They develop and maintain software platforms that allow migrant workers in 27 countries to pay various merchants such as food service outlets, telecom companies, airlines, and the Philippine government. In 2015, they launched PayRemit to ease the process. Company’s agents, mostly money transfer agents, collect cash from migrant workers to pay merchants affiliated with Ventaja. The service is branded PayRemit, for it allows customers to pay with remittance.
In 2017, Ventaja processed $27 million worth of payments primarily for the Philippine government (for social security, mortgage, and health insurance). This year, payments for e-commerce merchants have picked up and should hit $3m. PayRemit’s largest e-commerce merchant is Cebu Pacific Airways. This segment is expected to ramp up as the company continues to add e-commerce merchants, expand to the Indian market, and create more awareness for the service.
CEO, Think Tank Behind The Idea Of PayRemit
Vincent D. Grey, CEO of Ventaja, focuses on strategy and business development. He also oversees software design, particularly the user interface, and how all modules come together. The company’s strategy with PayRemit is to focus on the niche markets and dominate those. PayRemit under Vincent’s leadership, executed this with government payments from Philippine migrant workers, and intend to do the same for e-commerce.
Services in the Company’s Roster
With PayRemit, migrant workers can now shop online and pay over-the-counter at remittance centers. Upon checking out, customers simply select PayRemit to pay. They are issued reservation numbers, which they present to accredited agents. Agents retrieve transaction data from their system and process the payments. Merchants are updated in real-time once the payments are done.
Earlier this year, the company rolled out PayRemit Shop on Facebook — proof of concept for an online store that sells appliances, electronics, toys, medical devices, flowers, and food packages to migrant workers. All products are delivered in the Philippines. The service has taken off. By September 2018, PayRemit Shop will be available on a website and app.
By 4Q18, PayRemit Shop will be available to Indians as well. Indian migrant workers will be able to order TVs, refrigerators, gas ranges, etc. online for their families back home, and pay with cash at remittance centers in the Middle East.
Right now, these workers are not able to shop on Lazada in the Philippines or on Flipkart because they do not have credit cards. In addition, even those that do may not be able to order because these types of transactions (coming from overseas) could be flagged as fraudulent.
Fulfilling Clients’ Requirements
Agents who are reputable and transmit the cash they collect from migrant workers on-time are signed up. As Ventaja expands PayRemit Shop, they will have to select reliable vendors who can fulfill the orders.
At present, PayRemit’s service is limited to “one checkout = one over-the-counter payment.” Nevertheless, when migrant workers gain more confidence shopping online, and PayRemit is a more established brand, then the company will introduce the PayRemit e-wallet so Philippine and Indian migrant workers can pay for multiple transactions online.
Uniqueness To Stay Relevant In The Market
PayRemit uses industry-standard software, setting them apart in terms of technology. The “soft” skills make them better than their competition. Since PayRemit develop and maintain all their software in-house, they respond faster to problems, and are more flexible when agents integrate their platforms via API. Most importantly, customer service is ingrained in the company culture. The leaders are reachable outside office hours, on weekends and vacations, and so is rest of the team. The company recognizes that since their agents work in different time zones, the office team should be available when agents need them. Finally, PayRemit gives their customer service team many reasons to stay with the company. They are all full-time Ventaja employees. The company trains them and rewards them. When the business units hit their sales targets, they receive incentives, too.
Plans For Future Expansion
PayRemit Shop has tremendous potential. There are 14 million Filipino and Indian migrant workers who would like to shop online but cannot. By 1Q19, PayRemit Shop will have a network of appliance dealers across the Philippines who can deliver the lowest priced goods to anywhere in the country. By 3Q19, the company will have the same for India.