Ananth Reddy, Founder & MD of BuyForexOnline
Ananth Reddy, Founder & Managing Director has over 20 years’ experience in the Financial sector, having worked for major corporates like KPMG, Thomas Cook, UAE Exchange, etc. He innovated the Kiosk concept for forex branches, and was the first to offer services over weekends & holidays, convenience to the client being the core principle which drives him even now! In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Ananth says he started BuyForexOnline.com to improve transparency in rates and convenience in delivery, as also to provide a forex model compatible with emerging e-commerce trends. He is an alumni of IIM-Calcutta from which he holds an Executive degree in Business Management.
What is the idea behind BuyForexOnline?
Forex purchase in India, has traditionally been an ‘offline’ activity, whereby the traveler had to physically visit a money changer, haggle for rates and typically provided Foreign Exchange in the form of Currency Notes, in exchange for payment in Cash. Transacting in cash is inefficient and expensive as it is subject to market availability, and 70% of the business is conducted off-records in the black-market. Moreover, there was a high chance of counterfeiting and there was either poor or no post-sales support.
BuyForexOnline is a pioneer in the Online Forex space, which has successfully disrupted the traditional forex model. The major differentiation is in promoting a shift to the Forex Cards on the Visa/Mastercard platform and offering an online engine for Wire transfers/remittances. As the First Completely Online Foreign Exchange Portal in India, BuyForexOnline.com has introduced features like - online Forex reload, Home delivery of Forex, and Dedicated After-hours customer support to make Forex Purchase a much more simplified, convenient and pleasant experience.
How big is the online forex market and at what rate is it growing?
The outbound Forex Market including remittances is currently at $30 billion annually. Out of this $15 billion caters to the Leisure travel and education verticals, which is set to grow exponentially. By 2020, international travelers from India is set to double to 50 Mil. from the current 25 Mil.
Online forex however is still a niche segment of just about $200 million per annum, but is growing exponentially at over 300%. Also, after demonetization, forex has mostly moved away from the unorganized sector and cash transactions. Which is good, since travelers will now be compliant with FEMA regulations and do not face the risk of being stopped at airports. Travelers are also now seeking even more convenient online options for Forex, in line with other travel related services, which is positive for companies like us.
Tell us about your growth strategy and expansion plans?
We have expanded our reach to 70 cities across India to service clients in the Leisure travel and Education sector, and have also rolled out a ‘Total Agent Model’ (TAM) - a convenient lead-generation platform for SME Travel Agents & Education Consultants, which allows for easy placement of Forex orders for their clients. We are looking to raise $3-5 million from institutional investors. This will be used to expand our tech base, increase our team size, widen marketing efforts, and also target the inbound travel market. A simplified online Remittances service is also a recent offering from us, much appreciated for ease of use & transparency.
Your vision for the company?
Buyforexonline.com aims to completely shift the current mind-set of Forex purchase from cash to card. Forex cards are superior forex products which not only offer enhanced security and compliance, but also easier reload options and larger savings. With an emphasis on round-the-clock customer support & instant query resolution, Buyforexonline.com will become the trusted leader in online foreign exchange & remittances.
Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
Five years down, all outbound and inbound travel sectors (leisure, education, corporate, medical, immigration) in India will have access to seamless, compliant and affordable online forex and remittance services. We will also have an international presence and replicate our model in leading BRICS Markets. We also look forward to launching a mobile Forex Wallet, technology & regulations permitting!