Michael Kent, CEO of Azimo
Ellen Forster

Member Article

A festive chat with… Michael Kent, CEO and founder of Azimo

Next up in our festive favourites series is Michael Kent, CEO and founder of money transfer startup, Azimo. 2015 has been a monumental year for Michael and the Azimo team after securing $20m funding to boost international expansion. Founded in 2012, Azimo has now sent money to over 200 countries, reaching 5 billion people with over 80 different currencies.

2015 – Looking back

What were the highlights for your business in 2015?

“It’s been an incredible year for Azimo. In June, we secured $20 million in a Series B funding round, which we’re using to invest in top talent, enhance our product and accelerate the growth of the business. We’ve also been recognised by the United Nations as one of the most comprehensive and best value money transfer companies in two of Europe’s largest markets - the United Kingdom and Germany – which was a great honour.”

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently this year?

“Actually, there’s nothing I would do differently. Every decision we’ve made this year – good or bad – has gotten us to where we are today.”

How has your industry changed in the last year?

“This year the industry stepped up a level. Mobile payments are starting to be the norm, digital banking is becoming a reality and the high-cost of remittance is finally making it to government and policymakers table. Most importantly, digital remittance companies have stepped into the mainstream and customers are starting to realise that they have a choice. Next year will be about continuing that education about the secure, convenient and low-cost alternative to sending money abroad through services like ours.”

2016 – Moving forward

What are your key focuses for next year?

“Next year is all about growth. We’ll be expanding into new countries for both senders and receivers, and breaking ground in new markets like Asia.”

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?

“In 2016, we’ll see a real shift in power from banks and financial heavyweights back to the consumer. We’ll finally start to see the end of a toxic mix of hidden charges, rip off exchange rates, unhelpful customer service and little choice for the consumers.

“Technology is breathing new life into financial services from new people-focused, digital-only banks, like Tandem and Atom, to mobile payment apps like Zapp – all designed to give people all-access, all the time. Every one of these services contributes to the greater consumer awareness that there is a choice – which is positive for the industry, for our business and most importantly, for the consumer.”

What do you expect will be your biggest challenge in the coming year?

“Until we’re are synonymous with sending money abroad, our biggest challenge will always be awareness. Over 90% of remittances are still done offline with billions of dollars being wasted by hard-working migrants due to high-transaction costs. There’s still a lot of education to be done about the alternatives in the sector and instilling the trust that sending money online is secure and safe.”

The softer stuff

If you could go back in time, which piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in what you do. If you’re going to work crazy hours on something, then you need to really believe that what you are doing can make a positive difference to people’s lives. If you do then your self-confidence will also mean that you never give up and will carry your customers, team, and business partners forward.

How will you be celebrating the festive period?

I’ll be in India and the Middle East: checking in with a few of our partners and on the beach with my family. Hoping it will be a curry and white-sand Christmas for us this year.

Take a look at previous ‘festive favourites’ across the South East and London:

Rahul Parekh, CEO and co-founder of EatFirst

Tracy Ewen, managing director at IGF Invoice Finance

Michael Page, joint managing director of Saracen Interiors

Martin Campbell, managing director of fintech startup Ormsby Street

Salman Iftekhar and Michael Gadsby, co-founders of Staffing Match

Graham Marley, chief executive of Let’s Do Business Group

Sarah Anglim, founder and managing director of Gatwick’s I Love Meet and Greet Parking

Kristian Poliszczuk, director of online job portal Workango

James Wyatt, partner of Surrey letting agency, Barton Wyatt

Wayne Treveil, CEO of Tenants Plus

Darren Rigden, partner at Crowe Clark Whitehil

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ellen Forster .

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