Michael Kent of Azimo

“There are a few things you can do to really improve the lives of the poor. One of them is cutting the cost of remittances.”

Azimo is a U.K.-based fintech company that provides cross-border mobile money transfer services that migrant workers can use to send portions of the wages they earn to family or friends in their home countries. These transfers, or remittances, have a huge impact in emerging markets — as Azimo founder and CEO Michael Kent says in this interview, the total amount sent worldwide is estimated to be some US$600 billion per year. 

Kent explains that despite the large scale of the total remittance market, the fact that each individual sender is an immigrant, often unbanked, sending a few hundred dollars at a time to a foreign country, has meant that historically this has been an expensive service to provide, with high costs associated. Azimo’s digital-only platform makes sending money transfers much cheaper. Says Kent, “[Fees are] about 10%, on average, globally. If you can cut that to 5%, you’re releasing billions and billions of dollars into emerging markets.” And, he adds, recipients typically spend these remittances on basic necessities like housing, food, education, and health care, so they play a significant role in improving the lives of low-income people around the world.

With admiration in his voice, Kent describes Azimo’s target user: “I’m serving an incredibly talented and hardworking and entrepreneurial set of customers… People [who] get off their backsides, they take themselves out of their comfort zone, they jump on a plane and go somewhere to try and work to make a better life for themselves and their families. It’s an honor to serve those people,” he says.

This interview took place at the June 2017 CEO Forum and Fintech for Inclusion Global Summit, hosted by Accion Venture Lab, FMO, and Quona Capital.

Azimo and Accion have partnered since 2014.

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