Yogesh Sangle, the Head of Singapore-headquartered FinTech company Instarem, spoke about the trends driving innovation in the digital payments space, in a TechNode Global Q&A. According to Sangle, the remittance space is expected to see a significant uplift due to Revenge Migration and the influx of skilled talent into the Asia Pacific region.

Customer engagement will become increasingly important as consumer expectations for digital banking experiences continue to rise. The travel industry will also see growth, with consumers seeking value for their travels. Finally, blockchain solutions are expected to make a comeback, and the demand for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) is growing among consumers.

Sangle also discussed how FinTech platforms are promoting the recovery of travel and tourism as border restrictions relax, and shared insights on consumer spending habits, with a case study on amaze users spending on high-ticket luxury items.

“We believe in keeping things simple and our technology demystifies the unnecessary complexities of sending or using money overseas, fuelling our growth as the world’s premier international payments firm,” he shares.

Beyond technology, Sangle stresses the importance of building a good team.

“As the Global Head, I oversee the Instarem business as a whole – from consumer retail to small and medium enterprises. As a business, we broke even in 2022 and my goal is to drive Instarem toward profitability in 2023. This is my key focus going into the new year and I am fortunate to have the support of my team of 200 co-workers to help make this a reality. This group of individuals are really the secret sauce behind our organization.”

Read on for the edited TechNode Global Q&A with Yogesh Sangle, the Head of Instarem.

What are trends driving innovation in the digital payments space?

Yogesh Sangle, Head of Instarem

In my view, the first trend is that the remittance space is going to see a huge uplift with the onset of Revenge Migration. Countries across the Asia Pacific (Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and others) are opening their doors to talent. In my trips across the region, I have literally seen every other shop with a “Help Wanted” sign!

What this means for remittance is two-fold.

Firstly, money movement will take place at mass globally. The difference between migration in the past and migration in 2023 is the diversity in demographics; for example, Australia has extended the age limit on their migration visa to up to 55-year-olds, Singapore has introduced a new five-year work visa – the Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) pass – for those making at least S$30,000 per month. Hong Kong has extended the duration of the student work visa. The countries from which talent migrates are also changing. We expect to see more talent emerge out of Africa, for example.

Secondly, Asia Pacific-based companies will see a surge in innovation. As skilled talent pours into the region, the fintech (including the remittance) space will see an elevated experience for users. Companies will also need to heavily remit money into these markets to pay salaries and assist with other migration costs.

As consumer habits are changing, the second trend which comes into play is that customer engagement will become key.

According to McKinsey’s 2022 Global Payments Report, rises in inflation and interest rates will result in consumer and business behavior and the way that they pay. Similarly, according to Radar’s Q3-2022 Digital Banking Features commentary, consumer expectations for what they get out of their digital banking experience are growing at an exponential rate.

This makes it clear that for self-sustaining growth flywheel (Instarem’s key goal for 2023) we have to get the basics of customer engagement right namely growth in recency, frequency, and value metrics. For instance, in 2022, we saw a significant increase in customer engagement when we launched our amaze card in Singapore; In Australia, and the US, and an increase in SME users when we launched our SME portal. All improvements made to our product are rooted in customer insight.

Lastly, it goes without saying that travel will continue to grow and will be back to pre-covid travel by the end of 2023.

According to Expedia’s 2023 Traveller Value Index Report, nearly half (46%) of their surveyed audience said that travel is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic. Based on our amaze data, we expect travel for both business and leisure to continue to grow and will go back to pre-pandemic levels towards the end of 2023. People will seek more value for their travel given the inflated prices.

With the growth in FinTech platforms, as well as decentralized technologies, what impact does it have on businesses? How about consumers?

Crypto will make a comeback in a different form. While everyone talks about the Crypto winter, I strongly believe that this is the time for better blockchain solutions to emerge. According to McKinsey’s 2022 Global Payments Report, a mixed public-private way forward, with commercial banks playing a key role will see the way forward for crypto. In addition, consumers’ appetite for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) is growing.

What are the three key challenges (and solutions) brought about by recent developments in the global travel industry?

The main challenge with travel is that it is back, but it is not cheap – Instarem’s amaze card, however, makes it easy to save and spend when traveling #MoneySimple. That said, travel is growing and will continue to grow and will be back to pre-covid levels by the end of 2023. According to Expedia’s 2023 Traveller Value Index Report, nearly half (46%) of their surveyed audience said that travel is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic. 

How are FinTechs promoting the recovery of travel and tourism as border restrictions relax?

In Q1 this year, we saw a whopping 150 percent month-on-month increase in spends made with amaze when border restrictions eased up. As travel opened up through 2022, FinTechs like ourselves made payments simple for travelers.

For example, our amaze card has simplified payments for travelers tremendously with the ability to:

  • Link and spend directly from up to 5 Mastercard bank cards
  • Score rewards and get exclusive benefits like insurance and roaming when they use amaze
  • Skip queuing to exchange money and really travel cash-free!

Can you provide some case studies or insights on the differences in consumer spending habits across different regions or demographics?

One such consumer spending habit we can share is that amaze users (traveling from Singapore) have been spending on high-ticket luxury items, especially at the duty-free – unlike most wallet players, amaze does not have a $5K wallet/$30K annual spending limit.

Can you also share insights on family financing? How can FinTech solutions address the challenges of personal and family finance?

Instarem’s key goal is to make Money Simple, and our focus from a remittance standpoint is to do so for individuals and businesses who send money into APAC. A large percentage of our user base sends money home for family maintenance and Instarem works to ensure we make it very easy for them to do so. We see consistent demand to send money into markets such as the Philippines, Malaysia, and India.

Our product is designed based on these insights – through 2022 we made it possible for people remitting money into the Philippines to withdraw this as a cash pay-out and for users sending into India, we introduced UPI to make their transfers smoother.

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