Being migrants themselves, the duo knows the major challenges faced by this massive 40 million population in Malaysia — one being the inability to access various  financial services, as most of them are unbanked. The duo’s urge to solve this problem drove them to start MyCash Online, an online financial marketplace for the underbanked migrant population in Southeast Asia.

“Both Nurol Haq and I are migrants from Bangladesh,” MyCash Online Co-founder Mehedi Hasan Sumon tells e27. “I came to Malaysia in 2007 as a student and worked for several software development companies. Haq, on the other hand, worked for Western Union in Dubai.”

In 2014, the duo met while working for a Value Added Service (VAS) company in Kuala Lumpur. Whenever they met, the would talk about the problems of migrant population in Malaysia, particularly those coming from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. “We wanted to develop a simple and cheaper financial alternative for them. This led us to start MyCash Online,” he adds.

Incorporated in 2015 and headquartered in Singapore, MyCash provides a tailor-made platform for the unbanked migrant population, where they can purchase products and services online without using any bank account, credit cards, or prepaid cards. Users can reload phone credit, pay bills, and buy bus tickets through MyCash.

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“We offer many services, including local and international mobile recharge, utility bill payments, cross- border money transfer, wallet transfer, bus and air ticket, e-commerce voucher, dry foods and other products, PA insurance and many more. Migrant worker can fulfil all most all their needs through our platform,” Sumon explains.

For the end customer, the service is free. The company earns revenues from the commissions. For example, MyCash takes five to 10 per cent commission on every mobile top-up from its telecom partner. For bus tickets, it gets at least five per cent discount from operators.

Over the past two years, MyCash claims to have served more than 100,000 unique users and facilitated over a million transactions. On an average, the platform sees US$3 million worth of transactions per month. According to him, the company grows 25 per cent month on month.

With 16 employees, the startup has operations in Bangladesh, Singapore and Lithuania, besides Malaysia.

In June this year, MyCash Online raised RM500,000 (US$120,000) through equity crowd-funding platform pitchIN. A significant part of this investment came from Hong Kong-based JC Management.

The startup is now seeking regulatory approval to build and operate innovative remittances and banking services in every market it operates, and wants to become a ‘virtual bank for the unbanked’. “We want to start off with  Europe and later extend to other countries. Our main goal is to serve migrants around the world and provide them branchless banking facilities. We are planning to apply for the necessary license in Lithuania early next year followed by Europe, before we seek approval in Asia,” he reveals the plans.

MyCash Online Co-founders Mehedi Hasan Sumon (L) and Nurol Haq

Like any other fintech company, a major challenge for MyCash is the government regulations. Sumon claims the company’s products have huge demand in Singapore, although it doesn’t have any remittance product to offer yet. The startup is still trying to figure a way out. “We have this challenge in almost every market we operate. We also have many cool ideas like micro lending and pension savings, but we cannot simply start because we need license,” he notes.

MyCash is currently looking for funding mainly for expansion in Europe and Australia — two geographies with significant migrant population.

“In Europe, there are around 30 million migrants, who have similar needs. They also want to send money home and buy products online. MyCash offers cheaper maintenance solution and charge 50 per cent less than any traditional money service company,” he goes on.

“In Australia there are 500,000 Indian migrants and around two million from other countries. They rely on banks or companies like Western Union to send money to their relatives back home, which is very expensive and time-consuming. We provide instant money transfer service to 16 countries and it is 50 per cent cheaper than any other service providers,” he said. “For this we need capital, and we are in the early stages of discussions with two VCs to raise US$2 million by early next year,” he concludes.