Utiba Pte., a provider of mobile financial transaction software, has launched a new initiative targeting the international mobile remittances market, offering a neutral corridor routing and currency exchange clearinghouse for mobile and traditional money remittances.
The goal of the Singapore-based company, is to create the leading mobile to mobile remittance clearinghouse in the world; its services include corridor routing, transaction settlement, and foreign currency exchange, serving global telecommunications carriers, money transfer operators, and financial service providers.
Traditionally, official remittance services are tethered to brick and mortar establishments and their higher cost structures. The limited geographic footprint and higher fee structure of these services force many of the least economically developed strata of society to use unofficial remittance channels.
However, with the mobile phone having reached near ubiquity worldwide — global penetration is above 70% and growing — there is a new means of delivering financial services to the so called “bottom of the pyramid.”
Successful commercial mobile commerce and mobile money services in Asia and Africa, approximately 30% built on the Utiba mobile financial transaction platform, have proven the viability of the mobile phone for delivering financial services. Remittances, international and domestic, constitute an important financial flow to the least developed nations and populations of the world.
The sum of official and unofficial international remittances in 2008 was estimated by the World Bank at $800 billion, with approximately half going through unofficial channels. Unofficial channels, like the trust based Hawala system, typically are used for transactions of lower value and greater frequency. Using the mobile network, remittance service providers will have a greater reach and lower cost structure, which will enable them to compete with unofficial channels.
Justin Ho, Co-CEO of Utiba, commented on the launch, “Our U:Hub remittance platform has been pioneering mobile remittances since 2007 when it facilitated the world’s first mobile to mobile international remittance transaction between Globe Telecom in the Philippines and Maxis in Malaysia, both of whom use the Utiba platform. We look forward to bringing mobile remittance capabilities to all of our 32 global customers and more. Creating this new initiative is a natural extension of our vision of empowering everyone to make mobile payments.”
Clients — mobile network operators, governments, banks, financial institutions, money transfer operators, and other global financial value added service companies — will receive the back office management, superior fraud controls, platform intelligence, and credit/risk management and settlement capabilities of the Utiba U:Hub platform, in addition to the real time neutral and efficient corridor routing and settlement services that are core to the service. The U:Hub platform on which the service is based was certified as part of Western Union’s Mobile Vendor Program in 2009 and currently handles more than $100 million in transactions per month.