A Kiwi tech start-up has signed a deal with the Pacific Islands' biggest mobile provider.
Auckland-based KlickEx announced yesterday it had joined with Digicel Pacific to create a quick and low-cost system of transferring money from New Zealand to countries such as Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
The service allows an internet user to transfer money to a mobile phone "wallet" in the islands, which the recipient can then send to a retailer to purchase goods.
This system bypasses banks - important in a region where 70 per cent of the population are without regular banking services. KlickEx chief executive Ross Peat said the service was far cheaper than existing alternatives, such as Western Union.
"[Those sending money into the islands] pay an average impost of around 15 per cent to get their money across the border. We're looking to bring that [fee] down to single digits," Peat said.
"We're bringing down the price by about 60 per cent."
Chief operations officer Robert Bell said KlickEx was also extremely quick and its partnerships with major banks meant it could process transactions almost instantly.
Bell, a former HSBC banker, said the company was testing the service in the Pacific and planned to expand into other parts of the world. "We figured out we could provide retail customers, particularly the poorest of the poor, with the same service level that the wealthiest have [and] do it on a cost basis where we could make money, or at least break even.
"By the time we prove the system in [developing countries] and survive, we can go back into the first world - which is Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe, the US - and be competing with banks charging [far more than us]," Bell said.
Since it was founded in 2009, KlickEx has been mostly self-financed but the company said this week it was close to signing a funding deal with the United Nations.
KlickEx is one of six finalists vying for a share of $1 million of business funding in this year's University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge.
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