Fast-growing UK mobile remittance firm Xendpay turned down a takeover offer from Facebook in 2014, choosing to preserve its independence, founder and CEO Rajesh Agrawal told Mobile World Live.
“It was very early at this stage. We need to grow and become big. We need to do a lot of other things before we do something like this,” he said.
Did Facebook not offer enough then? Agrawal (pictured) declined to comment.
At the time, Facebook was looking to acquire expertise in mobile payments and was linked to a number of UK payments firms. One report said the social networking giant approached Azimo, a rival to Xendpay, with a $10 million offer to hire one of its co-founders.
Moni Technologies and Transferwise were two other London-based firms thought to be in the frame. Xendpay can now be added to that list.
Facebook, which declined to comment, subsequently launched a payments service of its own in the US.
Instead, Xendpay stayed independent and is now experiencing transaction volumes growing 30 per cent each month since its launch at the end of 2014.
Xendpay differentiates itself in a busy market with an ethical stance which involves passing on the best possible currency exchange rate to users as well as offering a pay-what-you-want fee.
“It’s almost the first step towards democratising financial services, which I know sounds very utopian but actually it works,” said Agrawal, who is in a position to offer prime rates because his other business, called Rational FX, is in the foreign exchange market.
“Most people think pay-what-you-want means people won’t pay anything. I remember being on CNBC and they said ‘no-one will pay anything and I said wait and watch’,” he adds.
Users, who send their remittances either online or via an iOS or Android app, are offered the chance to pay a fee at the end of the transaction, with 70 per cent opting for the suggested fee, which is about 0.4 per cent of the amount sent.
Interestingly, six per cent altruistically pay above the suggested fee, while 10-12 per cent take a harder line and choose to pay nothing. A further 10-12 per cent opt for slightly less than the suggested fee.
“We are not a not-for-profit organisation, we are not a charity. We are a commercial organisation but we believe in a fair way,” said Agrawal.
He owns the business with two co-founders and no external investors, removing pressure on quick returns. Currently the business is growing at a healthy pace without any advertising and marketing. So how to reach new users?
The answer is partly to encourage word-of-mouth endorsement, sweetened with an offer of £10 off a user’s next transfer if they refer a new customer, who also gets £10 off their first transfer.
The most popular payments corridors for the firm are UK-India, UK-Poland, France-North Africa, Germany-Poland, France-Canada and Spain-Latin America.
In most countries, users receive funds in their bank accounts but in nine markets Xendpay is linked into mobile wallets. That’s a figure that is set to grow strongly over the next couple of years, reaching 25-30 countries, Agrawal thinks, because of the appeal for unbanked users but also, for convenience sake, to banked users. India will be a prime market, he reckons.