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Purpl: Democratizing Money Transfers to Lebanon

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It is estimated that 1 billion immigrants worldwide help their families by sending money back home. On average, each migrant who sends money back home in the form of remittances supports three individuals, as per the World Bank’s new report on the impact of COVID-19 on remittances

Defying predictions, remittance flows continue to increase.

The World Bank report released in 2020 predicted a sharp decline in global remittances to low and middle-income countries (LMIC). This is due to the number of individuals worldwide that have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Yet, it turned out quite differently, as remittances to LMIC have increased by 7.3% in 2021, according to estimates from the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief released in November 2021.

photo of people using laptop

How come?

The major driver of remittance constant flows is migrants’ desire to aid their families by transferring money back home, often utilizing their savings. Another factor is the ongoing shift to digital money transfers, accounting for a big chunk of remittances to recipient countries. The digital remittance market is becoming more important due to a growing need for more convenient, more reliable, and quicker cross-border monetary transactions. More customers are opting to send and receive money outside of traditional financial institutions. The global digital remittance market is forecasted to reach $33.9 billion by 2026, with a 17.2 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the projected period (Telecoin report).

Lebanon: A Remittance-dependent Economy

Lebanon’s main source of capital inflows is from remittances, driven by +15M Lebanese expatriates all over the world.

In fact, Lebanon ranks 2nd worldwide in remittance flows’ contribution to GDP. Remittance inflows constitute 33% of Lebanon’s GDP

Atlas News

Furthermore, the $6.9B remittance flows to Lebanon in 2020, placed Lebanon 2nd in the MENA region as to remittance recipient country. Since the beginning of the economic and financial Lebanese crisis, among the top 3 biggest in the world since the mid-19 century as per The World Bank, international aids and remittances became crucial to Lebanon’s recovery.

Purpl’s mission is to power and democratize remittances to Lebanon

Purpl got its name from Tyrian Purple, a dye discovered at Tyre, ancient Phoenician City of Modern Lebanon, and known to have been a prominent export of Phoenician port towns. Phoenician trade fostered the exchange of culture, ideas, and knowledge among Ancient Lebanon and the rest of the world. This has changed in recent history as Lebanon has become extremely reliant on imports. Lebanon imports seven times as much as it exports, leaving it extremely reliant on the inflow of hard currency. Besides being crucial to Lebanon, expats’ remittances have always been and will always be connecting Lebanese residents with their family and friends living abroad. However, we are facing a monopolistic market due to the lack of alternatives to established international money transfers and the loss of trust in the Lebanese banking system.

This resulted in:

  • Sender carries an average of 9% to 12% in total fees, mostly in the form of hidden foreign exchange (FX) fees.
  • Unjustified additional fees of around 2% deducted from the beneficiary of remittance.
  • Unpleasant experience faced at cash-out points due to long queues and unsuitable customer service.

Purpl was founded in response to a demand identified by its co-founders during their frequent travels between Europe and Lebanon. During those trips, they were overwhelmed with requests from relatives and friends who wanted to transfer funds to their families in Lebanon. However, they needed to escape the high fees fixed by traditional players and to be certain that the funds will reach the beneficiary hassle-free.

We at Purpl, aim to reconnect Lebanon to the world, one adopter at a time, by digitally powering the $7bn yearly remittances supporting the Lebanese economy. Our mission is to empower the Lebanese diaspora connection to their home country by democratizing cross-border money transfer flows, as well as enabling financial access to all. We aim to change the way we receive, transfer and spend money.

Purpl is built to make your everyday financial needs a breeze

Purpl is Lebanon’s 1st remittance and cash-out aggregator, which will also integrate a feature that allows it to function as an electronic wallet. Our users will be able to receive money from abroad, cash it out and spend it digitally at local merchants’ brick and mortar shops, as well as online shops. Thanks to our network of partnerships with international remittance players and local cash-out partners, Purpl will have more than 800 points of cash-outs, including 190+ ATMs, covering the whole Lebanese territory.

While local transfer companies charge between 9 and 12% for their services, significantly higher than the global average of 6.38% according to the World Bank, we strive to provide the lowest rates for money transfers to Lebanon, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Sending, Receiving and Spending Money now have a new meaning… “Purpl me!”

Written by: Rim Ghandour

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