Azimo launches business money transfer service

Hot on the heels of raising $20 million in Series C funding led by Japan’s Rakuten Capital, London-based money transfer service Azimo is launching a new service aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.

Dubbed “Azimo Business,” it lets SMEs across the U.K. and Europe send payments to an impressive 189 countries — including many emerging markets, which is Azimo’s traditional focus — and at a price the company claims undercuts banks by 50 percent or more.

The idea isn’t just to beat the banks on fees (which is often not hard to do) but also through better technology, delivering faster transfers and a smoother UX via the Azimo mobile apps and web versions.

In a brief call, Azimo co-founder and CEO Michael Kent told me that a fully fledged business version of Azimo was something that many of the company’s existing customers had been asking for as they wanted to expand their use of the money transfer service to the small businesses they operate, not just for sending money to family and friends in their original home country.

He also (rightly) noted that immigrants are much more likely to start their own business compared to native nationals, and that these micro and small businesses are often international in nature, such as importing or exporting specialist goods. This requires a significant amount of money transfer and exchange for things like paying suppliers and paying local salaries.

To that end, even though Azimo Business runs on the same rails as Azimo’s existing consumer service, Kent explained that there are additional regulatory requirements around anti-money laundering. This sees business users having to pass KYC and KYB checks, with Azimo ultimately needing to satisfy the regulator that it knows the beneficial owner of a business sending money.

However, the Azimo founder says that required building technology and processes to scale those checks but in a way that doesn’t expose Azimo to regulatory risk or creates too many false positives that would decline customers unnecessarily.

Meanwhile (and proof that there was pent-up demand), while running in beta, Azimo Business customers on average sent six times more money than Azimo’s consumer customers. The most popular sending countries were the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and France. The most popular receiving countries were Poland, China, Singapore, Pakistan, Hong-Kong, and South Africa