(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Al Ansari Exchange, the UAE's largest money exchange network, plans to expand its operations in GCC countries, as well as opening more branches in the UAE in the next five months, chairman Mohammad Ali Al Ansari said.
Founded in 1966, the exchange is one of the leading remittance and foreign exchange service providers in the UAE.
The company has established its presence through an extensive network of 115 conveniently-located branches across the country to bring its services closer to its customers.
"While we have a presence in Kuwait, [and] we are looking at expansion in other countries in the region. But we have to consider regulation- and licencing-related issues in these countries," Al Ansari told Khaleej Times in an interview.
Talking about network expansion in the UAE, he said: "In line with our mission of reaching out to our customers and providing them with maximum ease and convenience, we have opened some branches in strategic locations in the first half of 2012 and we definitely propose to open many more branches this year."
He mentioned that India accounts for over 30 per cent of the company's remittance transactions. The first half of 2012 saw remittances to India grew by around 20 per cent due to the recent fluctuation of the Indian rupee.
Al Ansari Exchange employs a highly-qualified and professional team of over 2,000 multinational employees, who serve more than 1.5 million multi-national customers per month. Excerpts from the interview:
What are the challenges and opportunities in the exchange business?
Remittance is one of our core businesses. We have to ensure that the hard-earned money of our customers reaches its destination quickly and safely. We have to keep upgrading our delivery channels with the use of technology and more correspondent bank and agent tie-ups. Furthermore, we have to keep innovating our products and services to meet the ever increasing demands of our customers. While there are new products/services flooding the market, it is challenging not only to ensure that we upgrade to keep up with the times but also ensure that we work within the existing regulatory framework.
What are your expansion plans for the GCC?
While we have a presence in Kuwait, [and] we are looking at expansion in other countries in the region. But we have to consider the regulation- and licencing-related issues in these countries. Nonetheless, this is unlikely to be of much consequence as our large correspondent banks and agent network in these countries more than take care of the needs of our customers.
In addition to remittances, what are your other core business activities?
The foreign currency exchange business constitutes almost 50 per cent of our business. Aside from currency exchange and remittances, Al Ansari Exchange also offers a host of other financial services, including bill payments, credit card encashment, international mobile top-up, investment and saving schemes, loyalty programmes, e-exchange, payroll solutions, corporate cash collection and many others to provide maximum ease and convenience to our customers and try and meet all their financial needs at our branches.
How do you see technology's role in enhancing business?
Technology plays an important role in enhancing our business performance as it can save time and eliminate errors to a large extent. Recognising the growing importance of technology and its role in helping us to achieve our goals faster, we at Al Ansari Exchange constantly upgrade our systems and are in the process of implementing a new software that has several in-built safety features and increased transaction speed, which will ultimately benefit our customers.
Is there any new product expected to be launched soon?
We lay a lot of importance on product and service innovation to meet the ever increasing market demands. Of late, there are plenty of speed remittance products flooding the market. We implement the ones which we think add value and are beneficial to our customers. Similarly, we keep adding allied financial services, to provide easy access of these services to our customers. We are also looking at mobile payments, which are likely to become popular in the near future.
Do you support the Emiratisation programme?
Al Ansari Exchange actively supports the UAE's Emiratisation programme and we are happy to inform that we have achieved the 10 per cent requirement this year - an increase of more than 100 per cent over last year. We provide UAE nationals an excellent opportunity to build a successful career in the financial sector.