Michael Kent, CEO and Founder of Azimo, talks about harnessing the power of technology in offering cost-effective and on-the-go financial services for the digital generation.
1. What is the mission of your business and how do you hope it will change the world?
The Azimo mission is to harness the power of technology to democratize financial services and make them available to all.
It’s no secret that the traditional high street model of money transfer is both expensive and inconvenient. Many of our day-to-day services have moved online: shopping (Amazon), music (Spotify), film services (Netflix), travel agents (Expedia), taxis (Uber) etc. -and yet money transfer has been seemingly stuck in the dark ages. Quite simply, it doesn’t make sense for customers to stand in a queue for up to an hour and fill out multiple forms to send money, especially when that money needs to get somewhere urgently.
I knew from working in the sector that a revolution was needed in the way that people transfer money. I could see the huge growth of smartphone usage and the rising digital expectations of consumers, and I knew I had to harness the two, to provide a seamless anytime, anywhere service for digitally savvy people on the go.
After speaking to consumers, we saw they had no emotional connection to the financial services they were using. They were clunky, impersonal and while they did the job – they didn’t actually like any of their providers. We felt they deserved better – a service that was cheaper, faster and easy to use and reflected their mobile-first lifestyle.
We use technology to make things easy: we have a website (azimo.com) and mobile app (available in AppStore and Play store), where you can send money to over 190 countries at the click of a button.
Because we only work online our transfers are up to 90% cheaper than other traditional providers and around twenty times faster: we save people huge amounts of money and time.
We have been continually introducing new features such as the Azimo chatbot and integration with Facebook Messenger, to make money transfer easier and more personal for our customers.
2. What’s been your biggest challenge in growing your business?
For a business like ours the biggest challenge is educating customers that there’s another, a better, way to do things. Close to 90 % of all money transfers are still conducted offline, which can unfortunately cost customers a fee of up to 10% per transaction. We charge a fraction of that (2% or less), so raising awareness that there’s an alternative that is secure, faster and significantly more cost effective is challenging. The remittance industry is a $600 billion industry, where 700 million people around the world send or receive money. We’re already saving our customers millions and converting people to online every day, but we’ve only just scratched the surface.
3. What advice would you give to your former self when you were starting your business?
There’s always small things that with hindsight you might do differently but I truly believe we’re doing something really important here which has an impact on people all over the world. The only thing I’d tell myself is to keep going. It’s a long, hard slog to get a business off the ground and make it viable but we can see the difference we’re making to customers and that’s what drives me and the Azimo Team. We save the average customer over £200 a year, which when you add that up for our customer-base of a million users connected to the service, becomes a very substantial amount of money saved.
4. What part of your job do you most love?
Working in small, motivated teams to make things happen. JFDI as they say. I guess that’s why I love working in new businesses – the reward of seeing them become successful speaks for itself.