Solving cross-border payments in APAC - interview with Nium

Thursday 4 June 2020 08:49 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

Global fintech platform Nium announced its latest fundraise. Visa, a global digital payments provider, participated in the round along with existing investors. Another new investor to join the fold was BRI Ventures, the Corporate Venture arm of Bank BRI of Indonesia.

Nium and Visa’s collaboration began in early 2019 when Nium joined the Visa Fintech Fast Track program in Asia Pacific. We’ve worked together on new commerce experiences like instant remittances for consumers and businesses in Southeast Asia’, said Chris Clark, Regional President, Asia Pacific, Visa.

The Paypers has sat with Aditi Sholapurkar, Head of Strategy and Investor Relations at Nium, to learn more about the fintech’s business strategy and recipe behind getting funds amidst the current pandemic.

What is Nium for those who do not know it yet? What problems do you solve for the segments you address?

Nium is a global financial technology platform that aims to redefine the way consumers and businesses send, spend, and receive funds across borders. We are continuously innovating to provide relevant solutions to meet the needs of consumers and businesses. What started as a consumer remittance solution (InstaReM) is today a one-stop solution for fintech infrastructure.

Nium allows businesses, banks, and financial institutions to launch and scale digital financial services without the complexity, time, and cost previously required to do so. Our network is powered by our portfolio of licenses, hard-earned by building trust with financial regulators in over 40 countries. In addition to sending payments to over 90 countries, we offer real-time payment capabilities in most major corridors. This combination of regulatory and tech assets is unique to Nium and is at the core of our unique value proposition.

What are the main challenges for a cross-border payments company operating in the APAC region?

One of the key challenges for a company operating in Asia Pacific is the fact that the region is a fragmented market that is home to multiple regulatory bodies. Unlike the European Union, there is no centralised governing body in Asia Pacific. For us to attain critical mass, we had to acquire licenses in difficult markets first.

Another challenge is market maturity. The US has seen the fintech infrastructure play for over a decade now, but the same theme is relatively nascent in APAC.  The addition of global payments giant Visa, arguably among the world’s foremost fintech infrastructure players, to our list of investors adds credibility to our brand name and business model.

What regions/verticals are most underserved when it comes to digital/cross-border payments and how is Nium addressing the needs in these markets?

For consumers and SMEs, cost, speed, and transparency are foremost. Corporates and FIs on the other hand, often need more bespoke combinations like issuance and collections along with cross-border payments. Given the unique intersection of capabilities that Nium traverses, we are well positioned to create simple as well as complex solutions with equal ease.

How does the current public health crisis impact the remittances sector, in general, and Nium, in particular?

The introduction of social distancing and lockdown measures across the globe have accelerated use of digital financial products and services for both consumers and businesses. Businesses who have traditionally rejected digitisation can no longer rely on cash or check payments and are rapidly looking to integrate digital tools to help reach out to consumers who are now making purchases from the comfort of their own homes. Consumers, too, are turning to applications and online payment tools that will enable them to do fund transfers without stepping out of their houses. 

There is concern from authorities on the impact of remittance due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Nium has a well-diversified portfolio of clients and product offerings. Our focus on both individual as well as retail customers, along with the fact that we do not have a concentration of travel and other affected use cases in our portfolio, has cushioned the impact well. That said, we know these are unpredictable times and have doubled down on making our business even more resilient.

How did you managed to close a fundraising round amidst the pandemic? Could you please share some tips for startups on how to maximise cash runway?

Though we announced the fundraise only in May 2020, conversations surrounding the fundraising started earlier in 2019. The investors who had participated in this round, including the new investors, are familiar with our business. We have been engaging with some of them since our early days and are not an unknown commodity. Throughout the years, we have continued to show resilience in our business, and I believe that is one of the main reasons why they chose to invest in us.

While this is unchartered territory, every young company needs to focus on fiscal prudence with even the smallest of decisions. It is equally important to focus your efforts where they will yield at least 10x results and always remember that time and energy both matter as much as money.

How will investment be used and what is the next milestone is on your roadmap?

Nium will be using the funds to further build out its uniquely diversified payment infrastructure. We are also looking at acquisitions, specifically companies in markets like Europe, India, United Kingdom, and the US that can compress time to market in areas like issuance and local ACH.

About Aditi Sholapurkar

Aditi is the Head of Strategy and Investor Relations at Nium, a global financial technology platform that aims to break currency borders by empowering businesses and consumers to send, spend, and receive funds in a more convenient and transparent way. In her role, Aditi leads Nium’s global growth strategy and market expansion along with the company’s fundraising efforts. Her team is instrumental in getting financial as well as strategic investors on board. They also focus on key deals and business partnerships.

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Keywords: Nium, Visa, remittances, cross border payments, corporate payments, payments platform, Asia, Pacific, money transfers, mobile payments
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: Asia
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech