At a time when financial services industry all around the world are transforming their businesses with artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological innovations, agradual yet phenomenal shift is ongoing in Nepal since the last few years by eliminating the conventional ways of undertaking financial services and facilitating smart services progressively.
At the heart of this change are fintech companies such as Inficare Pvt Ltd which is working persistently to reshape the ways in which financial services are carried out to make the lives of people more convenient and simple. Inficare, which is one of the long-standing software companies in Nepal, has its core focus in digitizing every aspect of the country’s remittance industry with its state-of-the-art solution called ‘iRemit’.
“iRemit system adds value to your remittance business by saving ample time on routine but crucial jobs such as scanning, uploading and filing of customer ID documents collected for KYC purpose, it triggers scheduled mail notification on important events/ actions etc. in just a few simple steps,” says Anoop Sherchan, founder and CEO of Inficare Pvt Ltd. Although Inficare services are mostly concentrated on the remittance industry, the company offers other wide range of custom software solutions for banking institutions and Insurance companies. They are: iCare, iProtek, nPay, iWallet. Prabhu Insurance, one of Nepal’s leading insurance company has deployed Inficare’s insurance software.
The foundation of Inficare was laid by Sherchan in 2002 when he developed remittance software for a HongKong-based company Krishi Premura while doing a freelance job from Nepal. He registered the company as Inficare Pvt Ltd in 2005 together with his friend Annal Shrestha. “At the time, remittance services were growing fast in Nepal with many people migrating abroad.We had developed software for IME Groupin 2004,” recalls Sherchan.
Gradually, he started expanding his team and services to many financial institutions irrespective of location. Later in 2009, Sherchan registered a subsidiary of Inficare in Kuala Lumpur as Inficare (M) SDN.BHD. Today, the company provides technical support to its clients from its office in Nepal, while sales and marketing are being managed from Malaysia. In 2014, Inficare launched “nPay” online payment gateway to allow users of SCT cards to purchase through online merchants.
Expanding services from another country was both full of challenges and opportunities. “Having formally commenced from Nepal, it was challenging for us to sell system and solutions to international clients. So, we registered our company in Malaysia. However, it was not easy to convince people there too,” remembers Sherchan, adding, “While it was easy to register the company in Malaysia, it was difficult to run and sustain the business there in the beginning. It took a lot of effort to convince people to buy our software solutions during the initial years. We struggled to sustain our business in Malaysia for around three years. The company almost collapsed in 2011.”
Fortunately, Inficare bagged a client from Japan at the end of 2011. Selling its system to a client from a technologically advanced country like Japan was a turning point in itself for the company. Inficare gradually started getting Malaysian clients too. Currently, the company is serving the remittance solution on a global scale.
Market Presence and Clientele
Over the last 15 years, the company has gained a solid foothold in both national and international markets. According to Sherchan, Inficare provides services to more than 150 clients in over 12 countries, including Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.“We are connected to 70 percent of banks in Indonesia, about 60 percent banks in the Philippines, and around nine banks in India including ICICI and HFDC,” informs Sherchan. Presently, iRemit has integrated with over 100 APIs including the world’s leading remittance companies, namely, MoneyGram, Western Union, Tranglo, WorldRemit and the list goes on.“Globally, iRemit developed by Inficare are being used by our clients to transact nearly USD five billion annually,” mentions Sherchan.
According to Sherchan, 70 percent of the financial institutions in Nepal, including top banks and money transfer companies, are using the company’s software for remittance related services.
Inficare’s Role in HarnessingRemittance in Nepal
In 2018, Nepal was the 19th largest recipient of remittances in the world and 4th in South Asia with an inflow of USD 8.1 billion, according to Migration and Development Brief published by The World Bank in April 2019. The inflow has grown monumentally over the past two decades making remittance the lifeline of Nepal’s economy. This has led to a situation where the role of IT companies like Inficare has become important more than ever in terms of developing smart and high-end solutions in the transfer of money. “Every other major bank, local money transfer companies of both small or large-sized businesses in Nepal have been using our system to receive remittances from abroad, which implies that Inficare as a software solution provider has also been contributing towards the country’s GDP to some extent,” notes Sherchan.
Products and Services
The company has developed advanced and cost-effective software solutions for various verticals of the financial sector, including remittance, banking and insurance. iRemit, iCare, iWallet, nPay, Document Management Solution (DMS) are products focussed on remittance, digital payments, and document management respectively.
iRemit aims to enhance the cross-border payment processes with greater operational efficiency and better customer services all the while adhering to the country-specific compliance rules and regulations.
Some of the salient features of the system are:
• The risk-based approach to Customer Due Diligence (CDD)
• AI-Based facial recognition for smooth online KYC
• ‘Best in Class’ compliance platform
• Advanced reporting capabilities that allow the user to create more sophisticated reports as per their regulator or own requirement that is helpful for planning and decision-making
• Global watchlist screening of customer transactions in real-time, send alerts on detecting suspicious transfers
• Clear and user-friendly navigation
Another product, iCare, is an anti-money laundering/counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) solution developed for banking institutions to meet growing global compliance demands. According to Sherchan, it is linked with the goAML software, which Nepal Rastra Bank has mandated to all 27 commercial banks to use for monitoring and identifying suspicious banking activities. What underlies this is the advanced algorithm design and data structures that facilitate automated KYC management, customer data screening, monitoring and generating all sorts of reports required by the central authority.
“Our iProtek software, soft launching soon in the market, uses AI tools, is initiated for banks for digital security and risk management purposes. Meanwhile, the company is also releasing iREmit-X in Japan which is a brand new version of the current software. “We will be updating the software for Nepal too by working with the remit companies,” he mentions.
With iWallet, Inficare has ventured into the area of digital payments. It aims to provide safe, secure, and easy payment solutionsby enabling subscribers to load money into their digital wallet to make various types of utility payments and transfer of funds. Users can simply make payments by scanning a registered merchant’s QR code, with a feature inbuilt in the iWallet app.
“We are more focused on expanding our presence in the global market.”
How do you observe the pace of digitalisation of the Nepali financial sector?
In this digital age, new technologies are rapidly emerging and since there is a heavy reliance on computers, networks, programs and data globally, data breaches can have a massive negative impact on the business. Potential cybersecurity risks are rising at a worrying rate. Therefore, our dedicated R&D team is rigorously testing and looking for ways to embed AI/ blockchain technology in remittance platform as this can bring down IT security risks enormously.
How is the market for products and solutions of Inficare?
The market scope for our products and solutions is high in Nepal. Gradually, mobile and digital remittance is getting prominence in the country which raises product demand. Inficare’s banking products like iCare and DMS are in high demand in Nepal. We are more focused on expanding our presence in the global market. We are providing software to international banks and remit companies, particularly in South East Asia, and are also trying to expand our presence in Africa too.
How do you ensure the quality, reliability, security, efficiency and sustainability of your products and service?
We have highly skilled staff who work hard to ensure the quality of our services. We also hire consultants for the betterment of our services and also carry out Vulnerability Assessment and Penetrating Testing (VAPT) to keep the financial data secure while transferring it between systems or over networks. It identifies security vulnerabilities within an application and finds loopholes within the system. We do third-party security tests of our applications too.
How many people are working in Inficare? How easy or difficult is it for your company to recruit the required human resource?
At present, over 90 people are working at Inficare. In these modern times, young people no longer look at the newspaper vacancy ads. We are majorly posting job vacancies in the career section of our website and job search portals. We also offer internship programmes, which is a great choice for students who are just graduating from college. If they show remarkable performance, they can get a job placement in the company. In addition to that, platforms such as LinkedIn have also made it quite easy to identify potential candidates for job openings. Having said that, it is difficult for companies like us to recruit people as many Nepali IT graduates go abroad after working here for a short time.