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BW Businessworld

'Preferred Destination For All Things Forex'

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What made you start BuyForexOnline?
With the growth in e-commerce, we felt the time was right to take the forex industry too online. Our model integrates seamlessly with the process-flow of online travel portals and online retailers/marketplaces. Our objective was to bring transparency and convenience to a notoriously regulated and opaque industry. In this regard, we have been able to tie-up with MakeMyTrip, the leading travel portal, which validates our business model! A customer can now come to our website, view live rates, transact 24x7, make payment online (DC/CC/Net banking/NEFT), and conveniently get their forex delivered to their doorstep.
Another pain-point in the industry is setting and maintaining the rate till receipt of payment and completion of the transaction. Due to which rates are traditionally high to account for any rate fluctuations. Immediate Online payment eliminates this, and allows us to quote the best possible rates.
What kind of investment went in initially? Where did you get the funding?
We raised Rs 1 crore initially from friends and family as seed capital, and have just closed our first round of external funding of another Rs 1 crore from a group of senior finance industry professionals who see potential in our venture.

What all services do you offer?
We provide foreign-exchange in the form of prepaid-cards & currency notes, to international leisure travellers and students going abroad. The advantage of the prepaid forex card is that it offers security, and can be cancelled if stolen, thereby safeguarding ones funds. It can also be reloaded on the go if funds get exhausted. Swiping for payment at a retail outlet is free of charge, and currency can be withdrawn from any ATM if required. Forex is also available at all times at reasonable rates, unlike currency which is seasonal.

Could you elaborate on the revenue model?
Our revenue model is very simple. We load a small upfront margin on the forex rate that we offer. Our rates are very competitive, and guaranteed best in the industry. Being online, it is very easy for clients to compare and satisfy themselves on this.
What is your market share?
The travel forex market is huge, valued at over US$ 3 billion per annum. But online purchases are still very miniscule, as there is still very low customer awareness on this front. Another constraint is that all forex transactions online are accounted, unlike traditionally where most happen in the grey-market. People are not entirely ready for this yet, and it is our responsibility to patiently educate customers on the advantages of transacting with us online. We are pioneers in this space, and have about a 60 per cent market-share.
Could you shed some light on your partnership with MakeMyTrip?
MMT used to offer all travel related services online, except forex, for which their clients were left to their own devices. Now with us, MMT is able to complete their basket of online travel services, much to the convenience of their clients. We get leads of international travellers from them, to follow-up for conversion, as also a forex link on their homepage. Any escalations in forex are critical, as the traveller might be stranded abroad. We provide immediate and 24/7 customer support on this front, and have enabled MMT to grow this vertical. They also support us in promotions and marketing our service to their client base. We in turn get credibility due to this alliance.

How is Online Forex Market shaping up in India?
This space is suddenly getting crowded, with all the traditional forex players starting their own 'Online' service. This can range from a simple display of rates on their website, to aggregators, who then pass-on the leads to traditional agents for a fee, and do not involve further in execution. Our model however is to provide an end-to-end service, including enabling payment online and monitoring delivery as per commitments, and taking overall responsibility to maintain high levels of customer service and support. We also maintain a 24/7 helpline staffed by experienced industry veterans with the skill and authority to resolve issues.

What is your future strategy?
Our objective is to be the preferred destination for all things forex! But to get there we are focussing now on enhancing the customer experience in this industry. With us, a traveller will never be left to fend for themselves in an emergency situation. Being in the online space, we never close after office hours, or on holidays! We will also be entering related verticals like Remittances shortly.

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