By: Andrew Ng
For international students at SFU, every year can mean huge sums are spent on monetary transfers for tuition from their countries of origin to Canada.
This is what led Mehdi Naseri, a PhD student in SFU’s faculty of applied sciences, to create Rmoney Financial Inc., a startup venture backed by the university’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program based at the Surrey campus.
“Transfers can be painful [for international students],” Naseri explained. A student can transfer a sum of money from their country of origin, and find that up to 7% of the money sent has disappeared into banks’ coffers.
According to Naseri, Rmoney partners with financial institutions in several countries to significantly reduce fees and wait times for money transfers across international borders. It can save students as much as $500 total on these transactions over the course of a year and transfer the money in seconds, not days, Naseri said.
The name for the company founded just a few months ago stems from the word for ‘idea’ in Farsi.
The service is also free for students. “We charge the banks, not the students,” informed Naseri, explaining that the digital platform saves students money by minimizing the costs of the background tasks required by financial institutions to send money overseas.
Naseri noted that while the process of transferring money is complicated, it can be whittled down to banks charging high fees to cover the many processes necessary to transfer money across borders, which include tasks ranging from assurance of compliance with financial regulations to ‘onboarding,’ the process of registering with an institution.
The company partly does this by masking the transaction as a domestic transfer — for example, if a student from India were to transfer money, it would seemingly be a transfer from one Indian financial institution to another.
When asked if the process of building a financial platform was easy, Naseri laughed. “It’s not easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy,” he chuckled.
The biggest obstacle, however, was not founding the company itself, but linking partnerships with other institutions and building a rapport with customers. So far, Naseri said, he has ten students transferring money with Rmoney, but he has ambitious plans to spread usage of the service amongst SFU’s 2,000-plus international students.
Naseri said he hopes to expand the company and offer services accessible to the wider public for international money transfers. His goal — and expectation — is that the venture will become a multimillion-dollar company within the next few years.