The Mint Corporation punches above its weight in the global electronic payments industry
Dubai’s dazzling skyline was built from imported workers from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. At any given moment, the roaming migrant population of Dubai, the largest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can total more than 5 million, substantially more than half of the total population.
The Mint Corporation (TSXV: MIT), a provider of banking services to 400,000 of these workers, punches above its weight for a TSX Venture company, competing with First Data and Euronet Worldwide, two heavyweights of the global electronic payments industry. The company has already processed more than $1 billion of payments for more than 800 businesses operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since the company’s formation in 2009.
Mint’s core product is a payroll card that allows workers to access their wages securely, serving as a proxy bank account for a large labor group who are not entitled to open an official one in the UAE.
Most importantly, the company’s platform has integrated a series of improvements that the UAE government introduced last year to improve working conditions for its migrant workforce. Mint was recently given approval to offer insurance products through its platform, adding to its plans to build a one-stop shop for its customers.
“Having access to financial services is a stepping stone for improving the quality of life for the vast majority of people, and you need a different model with a different technology platform to go after this market,” Chairman and CEO Vishy Karamadam told InvestorIntel. “That is what we have built.”
The next step in the company’s strategy is to introduce a mobile wallet that will offer customers a “Royal Bank of Canada” experience, Karamadam said. The mobile wallet will offer a much broader range of services through this platform, he said. Mint is already authorized to issue cards with the Mastercard and Union Pay symbols.
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The company’s goal to expand in the UAE is closely aligned with the country’s aim to convert the Gulf state from a largely cash based economy to a digitalized one, especially as the government recently introduced value added tax on goods and services for the first time in 2018. The Mint platform is fully compliant with regional anti money-laundering standards.
Besides growing in the UAE, Mint also wants to expand in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. More than 3 million Indian migrants worked in Saudi Arabia as of Dec. 2016, followed by UAE with 2.8 million. Other GCC states include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Across the globe, more than 2 billion people have no access to bank accounts.
The company has also built a comprehensive data platform charting the spending patterns of this large consumer base. Remittances account for a huge chunk of migrant workers expenditure. Besides sending money to families, bricklayers and carpenters from Delhi, Dhaka and Kathmandu will often have to repay loans that got them to the UAE, where they can often earn multiples of their usual income. In that regard, Mint has agreements in place with several of the UAE’s largest remittance companies to integrate their services on the company’s mobile wallet platform. India is the largest receiver of remittances in the world, and the money alone arriving from Indian nationals in the UAE tops US$30 billion.
The company recently converted $39 million of debt into equity, giving the company greater flexibility to achieve its expansion goals, Karamadam said.
Matt Craze works with New York-based management consultancy 10EQS and is the founder of Spheric Research, a firm dedicated to global seafood industry research. Matt ... <Read more about Matt Craze>