Sending money back home? It’s something many immigrants do all the time. So much so, it has given rise to an entire market of money exchanges taking place outside the official channels, giving rise to increased risk of fraud funding criminal activities.
Boniface Oche, CEO of Baelio Technologies Inc., says many immigrants don’t like using banks and other large money transfer businesses due to the high rates charged on money exchanges. Instead, many of them are turning to social media (i.e. WhatsApp communities) looking for people who have currency they’re willing to sell. Oche says this form of informal exchange suffers from a lack of regulation. When people meet on WhatsApp groups to exchange incoming and outgoing funds, there’s no proper vetting and many people have been scammed out of hard-earned money. There’s also the risk of identity theft and inadvertently partaking in money laundering, terrorism financing, or other fraudulent transactions.
Just in case you’re thinking this isn’t really a huge issue, think again. Immigrants seeking people who want the opposite currency of the currency they have complete thousands of transactions on a regular basis. Oche estimates this trend makes up more than 20 per cent of the international remittance market and represents anywhere between $100 to $200 billion dollars globally.
That’s why Oche and his team of developers have created Baelio Technologies as an alternative. The new digital business offers several money exchange and transfer services starting with “send money” and aimed directly at those currently using social media to meet their needs.
It handles sending money to family and loved ones abroad via an easy-to-use app that monitors other such services in order to offer better rates and charges minimal to zero transaction fees.
In the near future, Baelio will introduce wallet services that will provide its users with value that will keep more dollars in their pocket. The wallet allows for storing value.
The app does all this while capturing the data and reporting it to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, Canada’s financial intelligence unit. FINTRAC’s mandate is to facilitate the detection, prevention, and deterrence of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities, while ensuring the protection of personal information.
This issue of fraud is quite pervasive and is further compounded by the fact that people are transacting way above government limits for reporting. As per FINTRAC reporting requirements, anytime you receive $10,000 CAD or more in cash, either in a single transaction or in multiple transactions, within a 24-hour period you must submit a report within 15 calendar days. There is evidence people transact over this limit and not reporting it to FINTRAC.
Oche says reaction to Baelio has been positive so far, but the future of the app lies in finding new ways to add value to users. He states that he cant wait to introduce new features that will change the landscape of payments.
The wallet initiative is just one example and he hopes to add more as users describe what they need and want.
“Reaction has been good since launch. Clients say they find it easy to use and we try to provide better rates. Yes, the reception is good and now we just need to build more volume,” Oche says.
The app started by offering services in Nigeria, but hopes to soon expand to include other African countries, such as Ghana, Cameroon, East Africa, and West Africa, for example.