INTERVIEW: Everyone from Facebook and Google to some well-funded specialists are eyeing up mobile remittances, but CEO Eric Barbier tells Mobile World Live that TransferTo has found its own niche in a busy market.

“We are not competing at all with the likes of WorldRemit and Xoom who are actually the front-end. They are the brand and we are the backbone, the hub. We provide the plumbing between them and the MNOs in the developing world,” said Barbier (pictured).

TransferTo’s core business is to enable a user in Country A to send money to friends and family in Country B, delivered as a prepaid top up.

However, the firm does not target consumers directly but acts as a hub for payments sent from money transfer operators, such as PayPal-owned Xoom and WorldRemit; mobile operators and MVNOs; and developers. TransferTo collects the funds from these companies and interconnects with the prepaid system of operators in the developing world.

The firm interconnects with a range of operators, including Millicom’s Tigo, Airtel, Movistar, Claro, Digicel, Telcel, MTN and Vodafone. Its most popular corridors are the US to Mexico and other countries in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as the Middle East to South Asian countries, such as India and Bangladesh.

Fill your wallets
Now TransferTo is about to branch out into a new business – acting as a hub for transfers to mobile money accounts in the developing world. The firm will announce the service commercially in a “few weeks”, revealed Barbier.

The new service gives the firm access to a higher level of remittances, from $20 to $100, on top of its prepaid business, where transactions are typically between $1 and $20.

Another opportunity is to act as a hub between the mobile money systems, typically where both operators are in Africa. Or enable multinationals and NGOs to send payments to employees, suppliers or aid recipients.

Of course, so much of the interest in payments is about the strategy of Facebook, Google and leading message apps which enable their users to send money to one another. Could this be another market for TransferTo?

“In this space we are having discussions with a couple of them,” said Barbier. The firm does hub the P2P payment service offered by BlackBerry via BBM in the Middle East and Asia.

“At the moment Facebook Messenger and so on are US centric. I believe they will need people like us to interconnect with the mobile money ecosystem at some point. That really is our vision; to bridge the traditional financial institutions and the mobile money world,” he concluded.