Sending money from the US to Kenya via Western Union and MoneyGram is expensive as senders have to pay fees and wait for hours or even days to have the sums delivered to reciepients even if they call themselves instant money remittance services. That’s set to change though.
Launched in beta in May 2014 by Lincoln Quirk and Drew Durbin for both Android and iOS smartphone users, Wave aims to disrupt East Africa’s money remittance services by offering free and instant money transfers to one’s mobile wallet.
Wave allows users to send money instantly just like a text message to their M-PESA account minus no fees but with live price comparisons to competitors such as MoneyGram or Western Union saving users nearly $10 (Ksh 800) on each transaction.
According to Durbin, the CEO, Wave was inspired by the difficult he experienced sending money back to East Africa during his time working for an NGO in East Africa. After leaving his non-profit job with Tanzania’s Anza Cart-which sold mkokoteni to farmers in Moshi Tanzania, Durbin teamed up with Quirk to launch Wave allowing users to send money instantly to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania from debit card to M-Pesa with no fees and the best rates. Wave aims to disrupt Western Union and MoneyGram’s high surcharge fees and delays as they make money on both exchange rates and surcharges.
The service works simply and users have to sign up with their debit card information once and for all. They then can send money to their friends, families or businesses in East Africa. Wave says it encrypts all personal data and offers phone support every day for users to track their money before it reaches the recipient. The US-based firm now has operations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and aims to expand across the continent.
Currently Wave’s main target is users in the US, especially the diaspora and humanitarian organisations working in East Africa. Later the firm aims to allow users in Africa send money to the US too.