Peter De Caluwe, CEO of Thunes, explains how our recent Series B round of financing will help Thunes’ growth and bring more financial inclusion to emerging markets.
Following the announcement on our Series B round of funding, Thunes is on a strong growth trajectory, well-positioned to take the lead in the global B2B cross-border payment space.
The funds will be used to develop our global network into more countries, and to go deeper into each country with a strong focus on Asia, Africa and Latin America; expand our product offering; and grow our team. Here are more details about the funding and our plan for the next phase.
- How do partners like Helios and Checkout.com fit into your overall growth strategy?
Helios is Africa’s leading investment firm. They provide in-depth focus and knowledge of Africa, rigorous investment discipline based on experience in developed and emerging markets, and they have an excellent network of contacts. We see them as an ideal strategic partner to help us expand our presence in Africa.
As a leading, profitable payment provider, Checkout.com has the opportunity to support entrepreneurs who strive towards their vision of connected finance. In addition, our existing investors GGV Capital and Future Shape have been on this journey since our Series A round of funding.
- How does Thunes answer the needs of the cross-border payment ecosystem?
We are a key global player in the cross-border payment space, which is growing exponentially with a projected size of emerging markets cross-border payments at around $45 trillion. The largest growth opportunity for Thunes lies in emerging markets, where fragmented and complex payment ecosystems often leave consumers and businesses struggling with slow, costly and unreliable ways of moving money.
Consumers are given a great deal of choice with multiple payment methods like e-wallets, mobile money accounts and bank accounts. However, most of these payment methods lack interoperability. We fill these connectivity gaps by forming and strengthening the backbone of the digital payments infrastructure in over 100 countries. Through a single platform solution, Thunes brings together complex payment methods within our network.
Our solution allows previously incongruent payment methods to fully operate with each other, connected to our vast web of partners. Partners will then be able to move money between each other in a faster, more economical and reliable way.
- Following this funding, what does your partnership pipeline look like in the next year or more?
Our focus is on solving infrastructure challenges, especially in emerging markets. We aim to grow our global network and accelerate expansion in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
We will also be focusing on expanding our product offering which facilitates business payments and collections from and to emerging markets. There are plans to create a faster onboarding process, making it easier for new partners to use Thunes’ network to gain cross-border efficiencies.
We plan to apply for more financial licenses in France, the United States, Hong Kong and other locations which will enable us to reach a wider breadth of potential partners under the Thunes network.
- What are the prospects for the company’s development in African countries?
Thunes aims to become a totally connected cross-border payments provider for both incoming and outgoing transactions in the Sub-Saharan region of 48 countries. One of the unique innovations that Thunes offers for African clients is the PayPal – MPESA integration. This is the first collaboration PayPal has with a non-banking institution which connects mobile wallets within the region and across countries for convenient, fast cross-border transactions at lower costs.
With this service, users in Kenya can seamlessly move money between their M-PESA and PayPal accounts, making it easy for consumers and businesses to access global ecommerce via the largest cross-border payments network in the world.
Thunes is actively working to help our partners gain access to the continent’s economies and help them provide payment options for customers based in Africa, recently announcing partnerships with Ethiopia-based Lion International Bank and MoneyGram. Thunes is also working on growing our team in Africa, specifically in Nairobi.
- What problems are you trying to solve in LATAM and where are the opportunities?
Similar to other markets, cross border payments have been inefficient in LATAM, especially for those who are looking to send smaller value transactions. Cash usage is high, the payments infrastructure is highly fragmented, and there are regulatory constraints to overcome.
The current transaction experience, which is currently not trackable and not transparent, serves an opportunity for Thunes. We are looking to provide a better alternative for banks, money transfer operators, payment service providers, technology platforms and marketplaces in the region.
- What are some of the ways Thunes is securing its platform against money laundering?
We conduct a full due diligence on new partners during onboarding. Our partner risk is assessed through an exhaustive scoring system, based on several factors such as the delivery channel, the country risk, Know Your Customer requirements and anti-money laundering (AML) technology. We score their risk level, and we conduct regular sample testing.
A residual risk rating will indicate whether the money laundering risks within the institution are being managed well and the level of additional screening that is required to mitigate these specific risks. We then calibrate the level of controls applied to the subsequent payment flows. Once our partners are onboarded on Thunes payment platform, we monitor each individual transaction with real-time screening following the highest international standards.
Thunes is licensed in the United Kingdom and in Singapore, and every transaction we process goes through our licensed entity. While our Compliance team is responsible for carrying out transaction monitoring, it is everyone’s responsibility at Thunes to report any indication of money laundering activity and to contribute to the platform’s security.
In the event of any suspicious behaviour, we are able to directly report to the authorities. Find out more about our compliance process here.