Impact Engine’s Inaugural Class: Pangea

by: Rahier Rahman

Despite the size of the market, the money transfer space has not witnessed much of an evolution over the past two decades. Western Union brick and mortar storefronts remain the mainstay, while other companies attempting innovation, such as M-Pesa in Kenya, have struggled to scale beyond their test markets. In an effort to revolutionize the money transfer market, we created our company Pangea.

Pangea aims to empower 2.5 billion underbanked consumers around the world by providing them with more convenient, low-cost, and reliable access to basic financial services such as peer-to-peer money transfer. More specifically, over 215 million migrant workers employed in foreign countries are remitting in excess of $370 billion back to their home communities through formal channels. Informal money transfer systems (“IMTS”), such as Hawala networks, double the international remittance estimates to over $700 billion. Our view remains that the developing world is looking less and less like Kenya and more like Bangladesh – the latter demonstrating tangible progress towards stable financial and banking sectors.

As the 10 largest remittance destination countries continue to establish their banking infrastructure, a company looking to make a meaningful impact in the sector will need to dovetail its program with international banking standards and develop beyond a simple mobile app or card-to-card program. Without more advanced solutions, an emerging payments company will never displace the mainstay players and change the global consumer remittance experience.

Perhaps the biggest challenges when tackling the world of remittance is scale. Can a company develop a model that is both sustainable and scalable? At Pangea, we believe we are building a truly disruptive platform that has solved this payments conundrum. Our platform builds on the prepaid networks that have seen significant adoption over the last 15 years, enabling the proliferation of various prepaid products (gift cards, telecom, etc.).  Empirical research from VISA and Mastercard has clearly demonstrated the rapid growth of prepaid stored value solutions across much of the developing world. We will capitalize on this trajectory using our proprietary technology and a differentiated approach to market. We have seen remarkable support from our channel partners who are passionate about being part of a solution that empowers consumers that are often not able to participate in the traditional financial sector.

The Impact Engine experience

We’re honored to be part of the first Impact Engine class. Impact Engine is an accelerator in the truest sense; it gives us access to skilled entrepreneurs, critical mentors, and potential advisers that can help us propel the business from a concept through to a commercially viable product. We don’t view the accelerator experience as a sprint, but rather the culmination of hundreds of conversations which spark ideas, force us to challenge our assumptions, and help shape the consumer experience.

We are surrounded by passionate entrepreneurs that are all trying to better the world while building profitable businesses. There is a shared ideology at Impact Engine which quite simply states that profitable businesses can also have positive social impact; these end results do not and should not be mutually-exclusive. This belief system creates a rare camaraderie among the teams that engenders constant feedback and creativity. There is no insurmountable wall here. You must find a way: below it, above it, around it, or through it. Chuck Templeton and the Impact Engine team are bringing in some of the smartest people across disciplines to meet us and help us address any challenges we face.

As a team, our singular focus is to build an innovative product that changes people’s lives. By doing this, we will disrupt an industry that hasn’t witnessed much change in decades. Impact Engine is helping us make this vision a reality.

* This article is the fifth profile within an eight-part series, featuring the eight startup companies from Impact Engine’s inaugural cohort. Impact Engine is a 12-week accelerator program that supports for-profit businesses making the world a better place.*

About the author Rahier Rahman @Technori
Rahier Rahman is the Founder and CEO of Pangea Payments. Rahier oversees strategic planning, operations and capital activities for Pangea. He has experience working with the underbanked community, in the start-up world and as a principal investor. He has worked in the telecom space, helped build the Chicago startup domu.com, worked at Cerberus Capital Management and Time Warner. Rahier is a University of Pennsylvania graduate with an MBA from Chicago Booth.

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