Questioning traditions in finance is a daily mission for Korean firm Sentbe. It applied its innovative mindset to the international money transfers regularly sent across Southeast Asia by Korea’s large population of migrant workers and partnered with SBI Ripple Asia, a joint venture between Ripple and SBI Holdings, to improve the ineffective process offered by traditional bank and payments services.
“Cross-border payments are typically expensive and time-consuming,” explained Sentbe Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, J Young Lee, “but with RippleNet’s help we’ve made them faster, cheaper, more convenient. Now we want every hard-working migrant in Korea to know about and have the ability to access this better way of sending money home to their families.”
Improving remittances meant overcoming four major challenges faced by migrant workers when making payments including transparency, speed, convenience and cost. Senders often don’t know about hidden costs, like FX conversion rates or transaction fees on the recipient’s side. Remittances are also slow, usually taking 2-3 days, though occasionally as long as a week depending on where the money is going. They are also uniquely inconvenient for migrants and their families back home.
“Migrant workers often only get Sundays off work but have to spend it waiting in line for as many as four hours at their nearest money transfer service branch,” said Lee. “The process is just as inconvenient for their families, who may have to travel from their homes on remote islands or in mountain regions to access the money they need to buy food and pay bills. We wanted to make payments 90% cheaper, take just five minutes to send from your mobile device and create diverse recipient channels to make it more convenient for everyone.”
Finding the Right Partners for Faster Connections
Sentbe initially explored XRP but the terms of its 2017 license from Korea’s regulatory authority did not allow the use of digital assets for settlements. However, the company quickly recognized that Ripple’s technology and network would provide the required cost-effectiveness, speed and convenience.
“We had tested digital assets as a settlement solution for liquidity,” recalled Lee, “but couldn’t use it with our Korean license. Instead, we joined RippleNet to connect to a wide network of banks and financial institutions. RippleNet’s has a single, standardized integration process, which means we’re able to connect faster and easier with partners throughout the world. Now we hedge FX much more effectively while optimizing our transaction routing in the most cost-efficient way, which reduces fees and speeds up payment times. So far, our users have saved $25 million on the transactions they’ve made. That’s a lot of money.”
Sentbe currently provides transfers from customers based in Korea to 25 corridors across the region and is continuing to extend its reach. The company has just connected to its latest RippleNet partner, DeeMoney, Thailand’s first non-bank licensed money remitter. As the country’s first mobile service provider with automated top up processes like direct debit, bill payments and QR codes, Sentbe can now help the families of Thai migrants in Korea receive remittances and pay bills easily and efficiently.
“We are interested in expanding to any area where RippleNet can take us as the ease of integration makes any new corridor instantly valuable,” explained Lee. “We’ve just opened up a corridor in Thailand and there are a lot of potential partners in Latin America that can open up new opportunities for us. We still believe that using digital assets will make cross-border liquidity more effective and will use Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity once Korea’s regulatory issues are resolved.”
Increasing Financial Inclusion for Those Who Need It Most
Sentbe continues to strive for efficiency because the knock-on effects of faster, cheaper and more convenient cross-border payments are so valuable for their target audience.
“We tell new customers that our service will make their life significantly better,” concluded Lee. “With help from RippleNet, Sentbe is increasing financial inclusion for migrants in Korea and their families all over Southeast Asia. By questioning the traditional way of doing things and creating a more cost-effective, fast and convenient way to send money home, we give each of our customers the opportunity to grow their wealth and improve their lives.”
If you’re interested in learning how RippleNet can help better serve your customers, contact us. Companies located in South Korea can contact SBI Ripple Asia to learn more about how to save time, lower costs and reduce risk in cross border transactions.