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Former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand tackles money transfer market

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A £200 million start-up company backed by Rio Ferdinand aims to shake-up the controversial money-transfer industry, making it cheaper to move cash to struggling families overseas.

The former Manchester United and England footballer is an early backer of Sokin, a global payments business that plans to break the mold by offering a subscription service that it likens to Spotify.

Sokin says other firms that charge between 5% and 7% for each transaction take advantage of the poor. It plans to charge a flat fee of £9.99 a month for unlimited transfers in 38 currencies.

Ferdinand has put in a six-figure sum to back a business that is personal to him.

He told the Standard: “When I grew up, people just had a bad experience of transferring money back home. It was unreliable, there were loads of negative connotations. I want to help change that.”

“If friends were sending money back to places in the Caribbean and Africa, you would see them and hear the conversations, it wasn’t good.”

The biggest investor is Daizun which has 12% from a fundraiser that led to the £200 million valuation.

Sokin, which means money transfer in Japanese, already has promotional deals with Fulham, Everton and Monaco football clubs.

CEO Vroon Modgill says the firm already reaches 200 countries and is looking into providing a service in Afghanistan.

Modgill, said: “While everything else moved forward, global payments and remittance lagged behind, and consumers put up with high fees and time-consuming transactions. We’ve improved a process known to be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.”

Ferdinand says he will remain involved in the company. “I am an investor, I invested in it because I saw there could be a real value in it, but the industry itself really appealed to me. In terms of what the company does, I am not the deciding voice, but I do have an opinion.”

The sector has been blighted by scandal.

Germany’s Wirecard collapsed after an accounting scandal.

Wise, formerly TransferWise, was accused by a banking partner of sending money abroad illegally.

And Finablr ran into difficulties after a financial scandal involving Indian entrepreneur BR Shetty – is has just rebranded as WizzFinancial.

Modgill acknowledged that the industry has had issues, but he says so does much of the financial sector.

He said: “You see that with high street banks, the same message is there, you can’t access your money, we need to show that the tech is there, to reassure people.”

Sokin was founded by Modgill in 2019, the company is headquartered in London and has 10 offices globally.

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