Laxmi Bank has tied up with Merchantrade Asia, a Malaysian calling card and PCO company. Ramasamy Veeran, managing director of Merchantrade, was in Kathmandu last week and spoke with Nepali Times about their plans in Nepal and a new remittance service.
Nepali Times: You're entering the remittance business, which already has a number of old players. What was the draw?
Ramasamy Veeran: We may have entered late, but we have done all our homework. There are many players in the market, but we have been working with the labourers who work abroad for a long time. Our network is the biggest in Malaysia when it comes to providing calling cards and PCO services. These are the services that labourers who work abroad use the most. We understand the needs of the remittance service market and know how to attract our target group.
Aren't calling cards and phone booths, and remittance different businesses?
They are different but if you look at them from our perspective, these services are essential for labourers working in a foreign country. In the past we could fulfil only some of their demands, now we can do more.
When did you start offering the remittance service?
We started this year, and Nepal is our first foreign venture. Nepali labourers contribute a lot in Malaysia and we are happy to be providing them this service. In addition, we are also in the final stages of launching our services in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.
Why pick Nepal for your first venture?
In the Malaysian labour market Indonesian labourers occupy over 60 percent, yet we chose Nepal as our first venture. This is because of the efficiency of our Nepali partner Laxmi Bank. We have to give them credit for bringing us here.
How is your remittance service unique?
Big companies like IME and Parbhu Money Transfer are already in this business. We are unique because we understand the need of labourers working in a foreign country. We provide remittance service, but we also understand their other needs, so we tie them together while providing services. This means, they come to us if they want their other demands fulfilled as well. We want to combine communication with remittance, for example if a Nepali labourer wants to call his home, they can use our calling card. Eventually we want to tie up all our businesses like this.
What are your future plans?
Right now we have between 50-60,000 business transactions in Nepal. Our aim is to occupy 30 percent of the market in the first year. We will do so by combining remittance with communication, strong brand positioning, and easy access.