With the advent of tightened US finance regulations following 11 September 2001, traditional hawala cash transfers – long the mainstay of migrant communities worldwide – were no longer possible with enhanced Know Your Customer and the introduction of Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) checks. In 2001, the World Bank estimated these global remittances were worth US$72 billion a year to developing nations. By 2020 this was over US$700bn in nominal terms.
Our client, with a long history of running mobile operations in Somalia and providing e-wallet services, wanted to launch a UK mobile and digital international money transfer services so people could talk and send money securely and lawfully to relatives in Somalia and the horn of Africa. Aside from the obvious financial regulatory challenges, we needed to overcome the ‘traditional second SIM’ challenge of how to persuade customers to adopt a new mobile service in preference to their existing subscriptions.
Piran developed the client’s ‘launch blueprint’ which was subsequently implemented by the client’s personnel. This included the development of the go-to-market proposition, user experience design and design of the target operating model with an emphasis on the organisation design and key role descriptions for the legally required Anti-Money Laundering, Commercial, Finance and Managing Directors. We also collated an initial long list of potential candidates. Furthermore, we identified banking and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) licence requirements, undertook supplier selection including making banking recommendations, and documented the new Company establishment tasks and obligations. This ‘blueprint’ also included a comprehensive business and financial model, with associated budget and funding needs used for subsequent fund raising.
We believe that the proposition we developed was unique. Based on our primary observation that UK Somalians (and other East Africans) already have local UK mobile plans and are therefore unlike to swap to an MVNO, we developed a ‘virtual’ MVNO, scalable, multi-country proposition. The proposition includes both UK and Somalian aspects.
- For UK customers, the proposition offers an Android or Apple iOS over-the-top application with combined money transfer capabilities (with the ability to scan a passport, register and complete finance checks online) and a mobile dialler associated with a real UK mobile number.
- In Somalia – a country that is almost entirely digital and cashless already – since the TalkRemit family own mobile operators in each of Somalia’ regions (Somaliland, Puntland, South West & Central), and run one of the country’s two e-wallet services, the proposition offers the ability to transfer money cheaply and permits family in Somalia to call their relative in the UK on their TalkRemit app, all by using a local Somalian number. Loyalty is also at the heart of the proposition with regular transfers building credits to fund their Somalian family’s use of their local mobile services, or even to provide a completely free UK mobile service using the margins arising from the money transfer side of the business.
TalkRemit used the Piran ‘launch blueprint’ to successfully obtain seed and family investment funding, launching their unique UK OTT app and services, and raising awareness simultaneously in the United Kingdom and Somalia.
TalkRemit acknowledge Piran’s significant role in establishing their business and providing guidance to the management during their early days of company formation and subsequent launch.