The entrepreneurship bug bit Kumar Gaurav while working as an Engineer for luxury car brand Ferrari in Italy. Having sensed an opportunity in the insurance industry in the country, he started DarWinsurance, Italy’s first P2P insurance platform, which was funded by AIG and ERV, and later acquired by Esedra.
While in Italy, Gaurav faced a lot of problems when dealing with banks; his bank would charge him exorbitant fees for remittance service, and at times, it would harass him just for using his own money.
“It was unacceptable for me and I wanted to do something about it. This was when blockchain was taking shape globally. I wanted to leverage this technology to help reduce people’s heavy dependency on banks for their various day-t0-day services,” Gaurav narrates his story to e27.
Upon doing some research in blockchain, he in 2014 launched a startup, now known as Auxesis Group, which provides private blockchain solutions such as cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet, in addition to blockchain infrastructure services to enterprises.
As blockchain grew further and gained currency, he decided to leverage it for the benefits of the unbanked and underbanked population around the world — by providing micro-loans and making international money transfer easy.
Thus, Cashaa was born in 2016.
“Cashaa is a forex platform that offers innovative exchange and transfer services between fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies. Cashaa has an in-built money exchange, where traders can trade cryptocurrencies across the globe without going through the hassles of traditional money transfer processes, for a nominal fee,” says Gaurav. “We have already beta-tested this exchange and had traders from 141 countries in 97 different currencies registered.”
Traditionally, international money transfer services are a complicated process; they are cumbersome and costly. Intermediaries charge higher exchange rates and there is weak counter-party risk checking. To top it all, they are highly regulated and require extensive paperwork.
“Imagine you want to transfer US$2,000 from Singapore to someone in Delhi. You need to pay up to 20 per cent in commission to the service provider to send your money. Casha seeks to make it easy for the people to transfer money internationally and in real time. On Cashaa, the sender and the receiver can complete transactions in the local currency, with minimal awareness of cryptocurrencies or blockchain. The trader receives local fiat currency in exchange for selling and buying cryptocurrency,” he explains.
In addition to the forex services, Cashaa also facilitate micro-lending services on its platform. A P2P service, a user will be able to provide/receive loans to/from other users on Cashaa. “Nearly 3.5 billion people are unbanked or underbanked with limited or no opportunities to participate in the global economy, while the other half has its problems with existing financial services. We are here to change this,” he adds.
The firm is currently woking on Cashaa Card, using which individuals will be able to pay at shopping malls and purchase things online.
Cashaa, which is registered in Estonia with offices in London and Mumbai, also offers CAS tokens, which enables users to access premium services like higher forex transfer limits, ATM withdrawals, unlimited money transfer and exchange. It can also be used as an alternative credit score for individuals and small businesses, who are unable to obtain a credit score in the traditional way.
“Micro-financing and credit scores will be based on our CAS token. Token holders will be able to access instant loans at low-interest rates compared to non-token holders, and will also be able to give loans. Through earning or buying CAS tokens, users improve their creditworthiness. They can also sell or donate their CAS tokens to other users directly, thereby improving the receiver’s credit score and losing their own. The more CAS the borrower owns, the better the loan conditions,” he shares.
Besides blockchain, Cashaa also leverages Artificial Intelligence to make its services more efficient. It has partnered with Agrello Foundation, which will enable Cashaa to include legally-binding self-aware contracts based on blockchain. Together with Agrello’s identity and digital signature, Cashaa enables fast and secure contract conclusion. This will lead to efficiency gains in decentralised trading and micro-financing, where the cost of engaging in a business relationship and writing agreements is high compared to the transaction value.
“Our vision is to develop the payments and banking infrastructure for the future on a robust AI-driven blockchain infrastructure, which can make the legacy system obsolete, thus creating value for the world,” he says.
The blockchain startup, with an employee strength of 32 people, is working on a commercial launch of its services in the UK, India, Nigeria, and Indonesia after the success of its beta test. The multi-currency crypto exchange will be launched in India in this quarter, and the Cashaa Cards will be rolled out in the third quarter. The firm will also establish local payout points in India, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa and Nigeria to serve cash-based societies and reach secluded areas.
Last year, Cashaa raised US$33 million via token sale. However, it rejected nearly US$14 million of this money due to its strict internal anti-money laundering and know-your-customer policies. Gaurav says that the amount it has accepted will be enough to launch its next generation banking wallet and card and expand it worldwide.
For Gaurav, blockchain is just a tool and he believes people should not get excited about the technology. “What matters instead is the fact that it is solving real problems. People should, therefore, focus on the problems they want to solve, whether it needs a blockchain or not, instead of thinking the other way round and trying to find something where they can use a blockchain,” he concludes.