When she was 18, it was cheaper for Marta Krupińska to buy an airplane ticket from Dublin (Ireland) to Kraków (Poland), her home town, than to send three-month´s worth of savings from her earnings to her family. She thought there must be an easier way. So in 2012 she launched Azimo, an online money transfer platform whose advantages have led its creator to be named as one of MIT Technology Review´s Innovators Under 35 Poland 2016.
Azimo sends batches of money to other countries quickly, and more importantly, at a much lower cost. The transaction carries a charge of approximately 2% in comparison with the 9.5% that traditional money transfer companies typically apply. This young innovator explains that she has managed this because, unlike large operators, her system operates 100% over the internet, and bypasses their large workforces in favor of a staff of just 90 employees between the U.K. and Poland. And she has foregone the branch offices and the middlemen in favor of a self-service model managed via mobile phone. "Immigrants deserve an economical and quality service. And that did not previously exist," she explains.
The sum of the money transfers completed in 2015 totaled 600.000 million dollars (approximately 530.000 million euros), according to the World Bank. And a fraction of that amount was transferred thanks to Krupińska, whose company already services half a million people and transfers money between 190 countries worldwide. And in those countries where internet access is not as widely available to the general population, the young innovator looks for alternatives with local entities to allow the recipient to access the funds. In Latin America, cash is king, whereas in countries like Kenya mobile payment systems like M-PESA dominate the market.
In the opinion of the partner at the innovation consultancy Innovatika and jury member for the Innovators Under 35 Poland 2016 awards, Katarzyna Krolak-Wyszynska, Azimo represents "a solution for a very real and important issue." According to the founder of Silicon Valley Counsel, Peter Szymanski, "Azimo can compete in a large, global marketplace even against much larger companies."
Krupińska´s future will include technologies like blockchain which could help to continue to reduce the costs associated with these transactions and improve the level of integration with digital identities like Facebook´s. "It´s about innovation, but you can´t be blinded by the technologies to the point where you lose sight of the basic problems that it can resolve: helping those who need it most," she concludes.