SPOKO, an app which offers instant international money transfers, is entering the UK market by targeting South Asian migrant workers looking to move money without the need for bank accounts and costly transfer payments, while also seeking partners to integrate its white label API service.
Quick and cheap money transfers by the British-Polish fintech SPOKO can already be made from EU countries and the UK to 16 countries. The long-term aim is to operate in 51 countries, whilst enabling money transfers to 86 countries.
SPOKO means ok/cool in Polish. The app already enables users to send money from Europe to their home countries in local currency, via their mobile, bank account or a Point of Sale outlet. SPOKO distinguishes itself from traditional money transfer providers like Western Union and newer entrants into the market such as TransferWise and Azimo by offering an extensive payment infrastructure that allows many different local payment methods. For example, in India, you can pick up money in cash or by transfer to a bank account; in Ukraine, by card; in Nigeria, by topping up your phone.
As well as targeting consumers, SPOKO is offering an open API to enable financial, telecommunications or recruitment companies the ability to operate transfer services using a white label model. SPOKO already works with PrivatBank and Alfa Bank, two of the largest Ukranian banks, and has carried out several integrations with international partners such as the British fintech Trust Payments.
Evgeny Chamtonau, CEO of the fintech start-up, explained the company’s business model: “we have a great understanding of our users’ expectations, their habits, and which form of money transfer is most convenient for their needs. From the very beginning in 2019, we focused on local markets. We started by developing a service for Ukrainians working in Poland, under the PayUkraine brand, and recently passed the 120,000 user milestone.
The company is now transferring the same best practice to new markets. He continued: “In the UK, we want to attract immigrants from India and Pakistan who usually send money from their bank account to be received in cash via various Points of Sale. We do not insist that our UK customers necessarily associate their money transfers with our brand SPOKO. The most important thing for us is that they use it!”
He commented on the company’s decision to offer a white label service: “our business model focuses on touch points; for example, portals with job listings or important news sites for immigrants. We are also interested in cooperation with financial applications our users prefer. Thanks to the white label service, SPOKO can be integrated by banks, portals, and various applications used by immigrants.”
Readymade banking solutions to pandemic problems
Before the pandemic, the team focused on Ukrainians, especially those working in Poland. Due to the unique circumstances posed by the quarantine, the team committed to expansion. In July, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Belarus, Brazil, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and Uzbekistan joined the list of countries where SPOKO services are available. Money can currently be withdrawn at 50,000 agent locations across countries such as India, Ukraine, Russia, Pakistan, Georgia, Belarus and Moldova.
SPOKO co-founder Aliaksandr Horlach observed that greater cooperation with various banking and fintech institutions became possible whilst working from home during the lockdown period as banks froze pre-existing projects. “We provided readymade solutions,” contends Horlach, “it was a very active time for us.”
“The entire team has worked securely and remotely for the past five months. Taking into account the number of implementations and the team's commitment, remote working has passed its test in our case.”