FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Peer-to-peer international payments now possible with new Smart Transfer app

Want to gift money, at little to no cost, to someone overseas for their birthday?

Founded in Hong Kong, Smart Transfer is a person-to- person mobile payment platform that enables international social payments across multiple currencies at no charge to users. Aside from bank accounts, Smart Transfer allows international money transactions to be made to any phone number, email address, or social media platform. This is something that the existing remittance business model cannot accomplish yet, as it remains to charge high fees and makes clients wait for long hours before the cross-border remittance is completed.

Francis Lu, chief executive officer and co-founder, Smart Transfer, says that they not only support remittances, but also social person-to-person payments in multiple currencies across six countries: Hong Kong, Singapore, US, UK, Indonesia, and Australia. Smart Transfer further leverages technology through a built in chat bot that leverages AI-based natural language processing technology to support English, Chinese, Japanese, and Indonesian.

Smart Transfer uses the peer-to-peer payment platform that hinges on the tagline “Money transfer without borders” and is based upon four key tenets: fast, free, safe, and anytime. They offer free domestic transfers and make money from foreign exchange spread when users remit overseas.

Lu founded Smart Transfer with chief technology officer Ajeesh Sadanand. Both of them were well-paid bankers with extensive industry experience in Singapore and across the region. Their travels helped them observe various difficulties of money transfer in many countries, in particular the capability of most apps to service transactions within a single country and sometimes, through a single platform. Lu and Sadanand then saw a unique business opportunity to create a holistic money transfer app that could attend to customers’ varied needs.

“Instead of complicated bank account numbers and SWIFT codes, Smart Transfer enables users to send money to recipients via a variety of channels such as their mobile number, email, or any social media account. In peer-to-peer transfers, senders are matched with a counterparty sending money in the opposite direction. This enables users to effectively trade currencies with each other, leaving financial institutions and service fees, out of the equation,” Lu adds.

To date, Smart Transfer has raised S$1m in seed funding and they are now looking to raise Pre-Series-A round. Lu says that they are in the midst of plans to make Smart Transfer available to more than 30 currencies in 212 countries by the end of 2017. In the long term, they aim for Smart Transfer to become a full digital bank by 2019, slowly achieving it by offering other financial services such as P2P lending and merchant banking by 2018. 

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