PROFILE OF RIZWAN ALI HAMDANI, COUNTRY MANAGER- PAKISTAN , XPRESS MONEY Mr. Rizwan Ali Hamdani , Country Manager-Pakistan, has been a part of the Xpress Money family for almost a decade, successfully undertaking assignments both in the UAE and Pakistan . Rizwan is a home grown talent whose work is fuelled with passion to drive Xpress Money to the No. 1 position in Pakistan . Through the years, Rizwan, who believes in building sustainable relationships, has been responsible for progressively expanding Xpress Money’s operations in Pakistan through partnerships with various financial institutions such as NBP, UBL, MCB, BOP, JS Bank , BOK, DIB, Tameer Microfinance Bank , PPCBL, Summit Bank , KASB , Telenor and Ufone amongst others over the past few years. Previously, Rizwan Ali Hamdani was based in the UAE and was responsible for monitoring and controlling the remittance operations of Pakistan as part of the Xpress Money Support Department . He always believes in confronting challenges and converting them into opportunities by proving innovative solutions to tackle them. One of his remarkable achievements would include a 25 percent increase in the growth of inward remittance business to Pakistan in 2012 as compared to 2006. He also drove a number of partnerships in Pakistan associating with 11 banks and two mobile service providers catapulting the brand to the number one position among all the money transfer companies present in the country. Rizwan Ali Hamdani holds a Masters in Business Administration with a major in Finance from Al-Khair University and a Bachelor of Commerce from St. Patrick’s Government College , Karachi . When not passionately pursuing his Xpress Money dream, Rizwan likes to take time out to spend with his family. PAGE: WHAT ARE THE CORE OPERATIONS OF XPRESS MONEY AND ITS CONTRIBUTION TO THE NATIONAL EXCHEQUER? RIZWAN: Xpress Money, a leader in the instant money transfer industry in Pakistan provides a simple, fast and safe way to remit money into Pakistan . The brand’s distinctive positioning of `Bringing Home Closer’, rightly defines its philosophy of being the link between expats -- who fulfill the basic financial needs through the remittances they send to their loved ones back home in Pakistan . Xpress Money started operations in Pakistan in 2003 and has successfully been innovating its services, catering to the preferences of its customers across the globe. We have a nationwide network with more than 6,000 locations offering our Cash Payout Service and over 7,000 locations offering the Account Credit Service. We also are the only international money transfer operator in Pakistan to offer free Door Delivery Service across 32 cities in the country. We also offer the Cash to mobile transfer service to Pakistan , for any person wanting to remit money from a foreign country. Expatriate workers can now send their monthly remittances instantly to their families on their mobile account. Remittances are one of the major sources of foreign exchange earnings in the country. According to the World Bank Report of 2012, remittances contribute 6 percent to GDP of the Pakistani economy. In FY2014, Pakistan witness record breaking remittance recipients of US$6.4 billion (July-November), which reflects the phenomenal role of remittances in the overall growth of economy in Pakistan . PAGE. WHAT IS THE SHARE OF XPRESS MONEY IN EXTERNAL FLOWS AND HOW IS IT COMPETITIVE WITH REST OF THE COMPANIES IN FUND TRANSFERS? RIZWAN: Xpress Money, the international money transfer operator has been approved by the local regulatory body -- State Bank of Pakistan -- to facilitate inward remittances to Pakistan . Xpress Money’s receive services are available in Pakistan as it is primarily a remittance receiving country; therefore, no one can send money out of Pakistan using our services. PAGE: PAKISTAN'S SHARE IN THE GLOBAL REMITTANCE MARKET IS MUCH LESS AS COMPARED TO INDIA , CHINA OR OTHER ECONOMIES WITH THE AVERAGE REMITTANCES ESTIMATED AT $14 BILLION . IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN PAKISTAN IMPROVE THIS SITUATION? RIZWAN: China and India are the world’s largest and second largest countries respectively, in terms of population. Owing to this, the number of expats from these two countries working abroad is way larger than that of Pakistan . Hence comparing the remittance volumes of these two countries to Pakistan cannot be justified. Having said that, remittances to Pakistan have consistently increased year-on-year and State Bank of Pakistan and The Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) are playing a vital role and taking special measures, to ensure the use of formal channels of remittance. PAGE: WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF INCREASING GAP BETWEEN OPEN MARKET AND INTER-BANK RATE ON REMITTANCES? WILL ATTRACTIVE OPEN MARKET RATE DIVERT REMITTANCES THROUGH UNORGANIZED CHANNELS? RIZWAN: The gap in the inter-bank exchange rate and the open market rate definitely gives room for illegal and unofficial remittances, therefore the minimum the gap between the IBR and OM is, the best it is in the interest of the country, to promote remittances through legitimate channels. The Government of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan are keenly taking regulatory actions to minimize the gap between OM and IBR and promote legal channels of remittance. PAGE: BEING AN EXPERT IN THE REMITTANCE SECTOR, WHAT IS THE SIZE OF REMITTANCES FLOWING INTO PAKISTAN VIA BOTH OFFICIAL AND INFORMAL SOURCES? RIZWAN: With record inflows of US$6.4 billion (July-November) in FY 2014, Pakistan is firmly cemented in 7th position amongst the top 10 recipient countries, according to the latest World Bank report. The State Bank of Pakistan has set-up Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI), with a core objective to take all necessary steps and actions to enhance the flow of remittances to the country through official channels. This body has entered in agreement with many international money transfer companies like Xpress Money. In this respect, money transfer operators have grown exponentially and are continuously innovating new ways for money transfer to Pakistan . PRI’s continuous efforts have seen a steady rise in the acceptance of IMTO’s with the Pakistani community, which has led to the decline in the usage of Hundi. PAGE: OVER 60 PERCENT OF PAKISTAN POPULATION IS RURAL BASED AND MAJORITY OF THEM IS UNBANKED. DUE TO FORMALITIES REQUIRED IN THE BANKING SECTOR, WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST STEPS AND MEASURES BY THE FINANCIAL SECTOR TO TAP THAT HUGE PORTION OF POPULATION LIVING IN RURAL AREAS? RIZWAN: Looking at the huge potential of the unbanked population, many institutions in the banking and financial sector have introduced branchless banking and many new products to tap the market, which are yielding good results. For example, Xpress Money recently launched its free Door Delivery service across 32 cities in Pakistan wherein the customer can receive money remitted by their loved ones, at their doorstep. Such a service does not require a bank account nor does it require the beneficiary to visit a branch or an agent location to receive the cash, making the process extremely convenient and hassle free. Going forward this strategy of branchless banking can definitely prove to be very successful in promoting higher remittances to these unbanked areas. PAGE: PAKISTAN EXCHANGE RATE IS MUCH WEAKER AS COMPARED TO INDIA , BANGLADESH , AND OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE REGION, DOES WEAKER RUPEE HELP TO ATTRACT REMITTANCES? DO YOU THINK THAT WEAKER CURRENCY AFFECTS INVESTMENT, IMPORTS AND WEIGHS HEAVILY ON FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES OF THE COUNTRY? RIZWAN: Owing to the socio-political scenario of the country, the Pakistani Rupee has weakened in the recent past. During that period, expats received better value for every dollar they sent back home. So even if the regular remittance amount did not change drastically, the value of what was being received in Pakistan was higher. The scenario was favorable for an expat as the value of remittances appreciates. However, such a situation is never in the interest of the country’s economy. We hope that the recent improvement in the economy and the stability the country is witnessing will reduce the pressure on the Pakistan Rupee exchange rates. PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR PAKISTAN AND HOW DO YOU VIEW THE PROSPECTS OF PAKISTAN ECONOMY IN THE DAYS TO COME? RIZWAN: We have a robust expansion plan in place for Pakistan . We have an association with most of the major banks and cellular service providers in Pakistan for our services. Our key partners are National Bank of Pakistan , United Bank Limited , MCB Bank , The Bank of Punjab , Summit Bank , Bank of Khyber , JS Bank Ltd , Dubai Islamic Bank Ltd , Tameer Bank , Punjab Provincial Bank Ltd , Sindh Bank , Telenor Pakistan, Ufone, KASB and are currently in talks with a few more banks that will further help expand our network. Pakistan has all the potential for a progressive economic growth. In view of the present positive developments in context to the political stability of the country and better economic management; the Pakistan economy will positively prosper at a healthy growth rate in the near future. The remittance sector is already contributing a large share of foreign exchange inflows to Pakistan ; with efforts by the government to increase employment opportunities for Pakistanis overseas, our inbound remittance graph is bound to witness a greater high over the next few years. Stringent security measures, friendly investment policies, provision of incentives for remittance sent through legal channels and attraction of foreign capital by providing a conducive economic environment are the core areas, which need sincere efforts at all levels to improve the future economic outlook of Pakistan . CORPORATE PROFILE OF XPRESS MONEY Xpress Money is one of the fastest growing money transfer brands in the world with a thriving presence across 5 continents. Established in 1999 in the United Kingdom , the brand has grown by leaps and bounds and has spread its geographical presence across 150 countries in little over a decade. Working with some of the largest banks and non-banking financial companies, Xpress Money has been able to establish one of the largest remittance networks in the industry. Present across 170,000 agent locations across the world, Xpress Money is focused on rapid expansion to the far corners of the globe. It offers a bouquet of services to address varied customers in both evolved and evolving remittance markets in the following categories: Cash to Cash Cash to Bank Account Cash to Mobile Online Money Transfers Cash to Card Xpress Money is committed to working towards developing innovative payment solutions to support the growing expatriate community across the world. Keeping the customer’s trust is imperative to the remittance business Â€“ a thought that finds resonance in the seriousness with which Security and Compliance is approached at Xpress Money. The brand’s best-in-quality security checks and seamless support ensures that every transaction reaches its destination. A unique 16 digit PIN is provided to every customer that helps establish error-proof identity of the beneficiary at the time of payment collection; payouts are made only upon proper identification of the recipient. The sender also receives an SMS confirmation once the payment has been collected on the receive side. The brand provides 24 X 7 support in over 30 languages to its customers and agent partners, helping them keep track of transactions every step of the way. The brand also has robust Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Anti Terrorist Activity (ATA) compliance processes in its backend to help provide comprehensive risk intelligence to keep Xpress Money’s network error-free and secure.
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