Alertpay plans big for Bangladesh
Company’s local agent speaks to The Daily Star
Imrul Kayes Chowdhury
Since its inception in Bangladesh, Alertpay is becoming popular among the freelancers and IT exporters.
Within a week of its launch, Alertpay got 21,000 new members and growing rapidly, said Jamal Shah, COO of Casada Technology, the sole agent of Alertpay in Bangladesh, in an interview with The Daily Star.
Alertpay is a Canada-based online payment gateway service provider which operates in 190 countries in 23 different currencies across the globe.
It came to Bangladesh in the last week of February.
In the interview Shah said the signup process is a bit time consuming in Bangladesh at present due to its verification process. If someone wants to sign up, he or she needs to go through verification process after providing all the necessary information such as proof of address, national ID, bank account and all he said.
Although it should take two to three days for Alertpay to complete the process, it is taking time for them to verify as their operation is new here and our national IDs and other information are mostly in Bangla, Shah said.
Casada as sole agent here has proposed Alertpay to authorise it to verify the information so that the signup process can be fast.
When asked about its operation, Shah said transaction has been made through Alertpay and its operation is going good and it will continue to do so. Because, Shah said, the vehicles IT freelancers use to receive payments here are either expensive or lengthy unlike Alertpay.
Alertpay offers two things that no one has offered before in Bangladesh- online transaction and cost effectiveness.
As per Bangladesh Bank’s FE Circular No. 15, IT freelancers can receive up to $ 500 per transaction. Alertpay charges only 2.50 cents (about Tk 240) for this $500. However, Shah said, governor of Bangladesh Bank said that this 500 dollar window will expand which means more money can come with fewer fees.
“Alertpay has come to Bangladesh since there was no such service for our IT freelancers. They are not here for business only, they want to help people”, said Shah.
It took Alertpay almost one and half years to come. There were some roadblocks but with the help of Bank Asia, Alertpay overcame those.
“It is not an easy thing to adopt all the requirements of Bangladesh Bank and other local banks’ policies and come here”, said Shah.
He said Bank Asia understood the importance of it and assured all our support.
Bank Asia is the local partner of Alertpay and it has no plan to partner with any other banks now. Freelancers can get their money to any branch of any bank across the country.
For example, if someone has an HSBC account, he will get his money to that account via Bank Asia. And it will happen within that Tk 240 charge.
On the fact that one cannot send money from Bangladesh through Alertpay, Shah said it is a regulation by Bangladesh Bank. Alertpay received approval to operate here based on this rule. It does not affect Alertpay’s business though it’s a roadblock, Shah said.
He hoped that situation will change and people will be able to send money too through Alertpay.
When asked how Alertpay profits from this, Shah said they profit by taking a very minimum conversion fee when dollar is converted to taka.
Alertpay takes full responsibility for secured transaction. “They have monitoring teams who work 24×7 to provide secured transaction”, he said.
Shah said ogranisations like oDesk, ifreelance.com and others should also join hands with Alertpay to make it simple for our people to get their hard-earned money.
“Majority of our IT freelancers work through such sites and to receive their income they use money brokers or other means that are costly, whereas Alertpay is cheap”, he said.
He also said Alertpay has plans to expand its services in every possible e-commerece field in Bangladesh gradually. They are already working on it.
Alertpay will also bring its debit card to Bangladesh. Bank Asia as a local partner is already working on it. This debit card can be used across the globe.
Shah said Alertpay is open for competition because only competition can help maintain a good service otherwise it is bound to go down.