Driven by a desire to provide affordable and secure cross-border transfer services to communities in Africa, Benjamin Fernandes launched NALA in 2017. In this review we will take a look at the NALA business model, assessing how well this financial services start-up compares to its more-established competitors in the money transfer market.
According to this money transfer company, Africa is the most expensive continent in the world to send money to, with customers spending billions of their hard-earned money on transfer fees each year. Benjamin Fernandes, the founder and CEO of NALA, decided it was time to build a business model that benefitted the African population, many of whom transfer money overseas regularly for various reasons.
After studying at Stanford University in the US, and a stint working at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Fernandes returned to his home country of Tanzania to set up NALA in 2017. It wasn’t long before NALA became Tanzania’s number 1 free finance app and now the company is focusing on their goal to “increase economic opportunity for Africans worldwide.”
As a new start-up, at the time of writing (May 2021) there is limited information online. However, the company is due to roll-out their UK-based service – for customers sending money to Kenya and Uganda – by the end of 2021. Ahead of its official launch, the NALA website reveals what the app’s 3 main functions will be:
In this section we will provide an overview of the various costs associated with NALA money transfers.
Exchange rates: The company is yet to release official information regarding the exchange rates and currency conversion fees associated with NALA services. The NALA terms of service reveal customers are given an indication of the anticipated rate at which funds will be converted into the currency, before the transfer is sent to the recipient. This document also states that fixed mark-ups will be applicable for money transfers which need to be converted into a foreign currency.
Transfer fees: There is also limited information available in regards to NALA transfer fees, ahead of the UK launch. Fees and other costs are subject to change, according to the terms of service, depending on the amount of money that is transferred, the payment method and the location of the sender and recipient. NALA also states a flat-fee will be charged per transaction, instead of a percentage of the transfer amount.
As it stands, NALA is available in East African countries Kenya and Uganda, but the app is due to launch in the UK in 2021. Aimed to provide international money transfer services in East Africa, it is likely countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Zimbabwe will become key destinations for NALA international money transfers.
This information is not yet available but considering the huge percentage of African populations who remain unbanked, we assume cash options will be available.
The company has revealed they will offer a Faster Payment function so customers can initiate electronic payments in the UK which will be received by the recipient bank within 2 hours (as long as the receiving organisation or bank is a member of the Faster Payments Scheme). As the full NALA product is not yet available in the UK, it is not possible to report on the exact delivery speed of international money transfers.
NALA supports a range of payment methods including funds held in your NALA digital account, your linked U.K. bank account and your linked UK debit or credit card.
From the research we have conducted, it is safe to say the best reason to use NALA is to take advantage of a mobile money transfer service designed to benefit customers living in East Africa and the UK.
It is hard to say how trustworthy NALA is, because it is yet to launch on a global scale. NALA does not currently have a TrustPilot profile and there is very minimal customer feedback posted online. However, the fact NALA’s customer base grew to over 250,000 customers in little more than a year, quickly becoming East Africa’s best finance app, inspires confidence.
Further to this point, the company is incorporated and licensed under UK laws, (company number 12792210) with its Registered Office located at International House, 64 Nile Street, London, United Kingdom, N1 7SR (“NALA”) making it a legitimate business. Further to this, NALA Payments Ltd is an agent of Modulr FS Limited, who are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011, for the issuing of electronic money for the issuing of electronic money, under firm reference number 902973.
As mentioned above, there is very limited user feedback online at the time of writing this review. We expect UK customers will begin to post feedback and reviews online following the 2021 launch.
In this section we will provide details on how to open a NALA account in the UK, to send and receive money to and from Africa.
Customers interested in setting up a NALA account must be 18 or over, with a current UK bank account and valid photo ID. Anyone interested in signing up for an account can register for early access, ahead of the UK launch, by clicking the link on the NALA homepage.
As NALA is currently not available in the UK, it is difficult for us to provide in-depth information on how to arrange an international money transfer. NALA does confirm, however, that before each transaction is complete, customers will be provided with the following information:
NALA has said customers will be able to receive payments into their digital account, but details of how to do this are not yet available.
The NALA mobile app is currently in the beta phase of development and is not yet available. CEO Benjamin Fernandes has revealed NALA will be rolling out a beta product in April, ahead of the official UK launch in Autumn 2021. Transfers sent to Uganda and Kenya will be available initially, followed by Tanzania. Customers can sign up for early access using this link.
Artiom is a marketing graduate from the University of Portsmouth, Artiom’s primary experience is in SEO but he has a broad knowledge of all facets of digital marketing. He optimises the organic experience on MoneyTransfers.com with the content team, manages and creates unique marketing tactics, and generally supports the overall growth of the website.