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The fight for a share of the diaspora inflows market in Kenya is set to intensify with a new company opening its doors to customers. Continental Money has unveiled an online money transfer service that operates round-the-clock.
“We offer an unprecedented convenience to the diaspora community, who can transfer funds from the privacy of their own home or office 24/7,” the chief executive officer Njuguna Kirubi said during an interview.
At the moment, Kenyans in the UK can transfer money round-the-clock to any bank account or mobile money platform in Kenya using Continental Money platform, Mr Kirubi said, adding that it takes about 10 minutes to complete a transaction.
The company plans to change diaspora money remittance model from the traditional “brick and mortar system” by embracing technology, he said.
“Traditionally, the diaspora used to send money home through agent locations which meant withdrawing cash from a bank, taking time off to visit an agent and queuing up to hand over cash. This was followed by hefty fees,” said Mr Kirubi.
The company’s business is also regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya and the Financial Conduct Authority of the UK.
“We have partnered with global organisations such as Earthport, RemitOne UK and Experian among others to ensure high levels of security and privacy,” he said.
According to the Central Bank, diaspora inflows increased by 7.9 per cent to $129.1 million in May compared to $119.7 million in May 2014 and by 3.7 per cent when compared to inflows in April this year. The increase was largely reflected in inflows from Europe and the rest of the world.
Diaspora remittances to Kenya are expected to hit $33 billion this year according to the World Bank data released in April. The inflows are projected to increase to $34 billion in 2016 and $36 billion in 2017.
The US accounts for about 45 per cent of the diaspora inflows to Kenya while Europe accounts for about 22 per cent.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the most expensive region to send money to, at an average of five per cent of the amount sent. This is an element that is set to change: “Continental Money has simplified this. We charge one British pound for any amount sent. This is set to bring about savings to Kenyans,” Mr Kirubi said.
“An unrivalled exchange rates matched with competitive fee structure gives the customers value for money.”
Other than funds transfer, the company’s platform also enables the diaspora in the UK to buy airtime for their family and friends as well as pay bills locally. “We can pay for university education in the US and UK,” he said.
At the moment, Continental Money has offices in London and Nairobi. The firm plans to open more outlets in Dubai and Dar es Salaam. It is also registered in the US and Uganda.
“We will be launching in Nigeria and Ethiopia by August 2015 because these are the largest money transfer markets in Africa,” said Mr Kirubi.
– Daily Nation