Hyperwallet acts as an intermediary for organisations that need to pay people around the world.
One of the problems with running a gig economy platform for matching customers with freelance workers, rides, accommodation and so on is that if you don't go global, someone else is likely to copy your idea and eat your lunch. But being able to make relatively small payments to people in different countries can be a challenge due to the fee structures applied by conventional financial institutions and the need to comply with anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorism regulations.
Indeed, traditional banks don't seem to want this type of business, Hyperwallet chief commercial officer Peter Burridge told iTWire.
The company operates in more than 200 countries, but has local accounts in more than 100 of them, allowing it to make payments in those places on a purely domestic basis. This makes the final part of the transaction quick and cheap. (In a way, this parallels the hawala system except that the transfers of value are managed by one formal organisation.) Recipients can choose from a range of payment mechanisms, including deposit into a bank account, cash pickup via Western Union, and credit to a pre-paid card.
Since prepaid cards can be credited instantly, this is "a potential source of competitive advantage," observed APAC managing director Simon Banks.
Hyperwallet's 400-plus clients include home-sharing operator HomeAway, freelancing platform TopTal, Stella & Dot (ecommerce), and direct selling organisation Herbalife. "The common factor is they do lots of payments and they are global," said Burridge.
Hyperwallet's Australian office is its first in Asia Pacific, and is regarded as "a springboard to the region", said Banks.
Local companies like Freelancer and 99designs "have built it all the hard way," said Burridge, but Hyperwallet wants to get involved with local incubators to explain to start-ups that it can take care of many of the issues involved with payments.
"You don't want the payment piece to be a roadblock when they take off," said Banks.
Hyperwallet's Australian operation has applied for the licence required to originate business and hold money on its clients' behalf. It is already able to pay people in this country.