The Swipe Company:- Supporting Financial Inclusion for Migrants through Technology


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Alvin Lee, CEO & CTO, The Swipe Company

The Vast Majority of Migrant Workers Don’t Have Access to Formal Banking

Migrants make up just 3.4 % of the world’s population but contribute roughly 10 % of the global GDP, according to McKinsey Global Institute. And more than 90 % of the world’s 247 million migrants move voluntarily searching for better employment opportunities. But due to the high costs, the inconvenient or time-consuming traveling and the complex formal migration processes involved, they are generally forced to work precariously for very little incomes.

In spite of additional risks to health and safety, the single biggest challenge limiting them is the lack of financial inclusion. A recent report by United Nations Capital Development Fund says that only 11 % of migrants open a bank account in their homeland and just 22 % do so in their destination country. The cumbersome documentation processes, isolated workplaces, and restricted movements limit their access to formal banking services. Therefore, a simple and convenient means for foreign workers to save, receive and transfer money across borders is a big step towards greater migrant integration.

With an aim to holistically support the migrant workers of the ASEAN countries, Mr. Alvin Lee established The Swipe Company in 2018, headquartered in Singapore. As a seasoned ex-banker, he’s aware of the barriers for migrant workers to access financial services—the lack of financial knowledge and awareness, strict regulations to open bank accounts, and a lack of funds. He observed that cash still played an important role in their lives, and he wanted to use technology to bring about greater convenience for them. In particular, for remittances, there was a better way for them to send money home instead of queuing up for a long time at remittance shops every month.

Being the company’s CEO and CTO, Mr. Alvin used technology to extend affordable financial services to them and create social change. He says, “The Swipe App was developed to transform consumers’ pain from enduring waiting in long lines, form filling, high remittance fees and long transfer times, to having a convenient and fast solution that is gentle on the pocket.”

The Swipe App: A Step towards Greater Migrant Integration

The company has launched the ‘The Swipe App’ as a convenient remittance solution for foreign workers in Hong Kong. The app is a quick and convenient means to open an account, to top up and convert currencies over the forex market within very reasonable exchange rates, for remittance and more. It can be used for remittance from Hong Kong to over 60 countries around the world and presents the option to exchange or transact over 40 different currencies. Its cash pick-up option allows beneficiaries to pick up the money from many convenient and regional locations. Moreover, the app is always operational and users can utilize its services anytime throughout the day.

Additionally, the app accepts users through fully compliant evaluations and simple, automated eKYC processes and all transaction details such as the sender, the amount, the specific exchange rates and the receiver is thoroughly monitored. And through license legitimacy, the company gives an assurance that the money will reach the recipient safely. Along with each transaction being recorded and time-stamped for easy reviewing, all accounts are periodically screened for suspicious activities and threats or both.

Envisioning an All-in-One Service for Foreign Workers

Since launching the app in April 2019, the app has onboarded more than 4,000 satisfied users. More than its seamless user experience, high convenience, and very low fees, customers admire the company’s quick responsiveness. Mr. Alvin gives an account, “Our key differentiator is the way we treat our customers. We respond almost immediately when they send us messages on Facebook during office hours; and we are approachable, friendly, and proactive in helping them resolve issues.”

The Swipe Company is actively forging partnerships to realize higher convenience to customers. And over the last two months, the company has expanded its partnership network to include 15 convenience stores in Hong Kong where its users can send money home.

Facilitating remittance is just the beginning for The Swipe Company as it’s enhancing the platform to help job-seeking foreigners look for jobs overseas in diverse sectors. And in providing an e-wallet for users to store, encash, transfer and make payments, the app will be an all-in-one mobile app for the foreign worker. Mr. Alvin adds more details, “This is slated for public launch in Malaysia and Indonesia in Q1 this year for domestic and migrant hiring from Indonesia, with plans to roll this out in Hong Kong and Singapore, the destination countries and hiring from South Asia, the source countries.”


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