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HOW TO SETTLE IN EASILY WHEN PURSUING HIGHER STUDIES ABROAD

Noor Anand Chawla

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Since application season for foreign university applicants has just concluded, many hopeful students will be preparing for a new chapter in their lives. Moving from the pampered luxuries of home life to fending for oneself abroad, while concentrating on attaining good grades, is not an easy task. Everything from searching for accommodation and furnishing it, to figuring out the nearest and most inexpensive grocery store and laundromat; there are many tasks on one’s to-do list when they first move abroad to pursue higher studies.

Perhaps the most important factor, however, is to sort out one’s finances—set up a bank account and establish an easy system to receive and transfer money throughout the year. Fortunately, the team behind Remitout has solved this headache by setting up a dedicated service to simplify the wiring of money internationally. Two bankers—Nafees Dadi and Kritika Saini—realised that students and their parents often visited banks to transfer money but found it difficult to navigate the endless form-filling and other arduous tasks. In their frazzled state, they often made mistakes, having to redo their forms and wait in long queues to have their money transfers processed.

This led to the idea of Remitout—a portmanteau of ‘remittances outside’ India. The transfer of money to people studying abroad falls under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS), which facilitates resident individuals to remit up to $2,50,000 or its equivalent abroad per Financial Year, for permitted current or capital account transactions or a combination of the two. The team behind Remitout realised that the transactions made under this scheme were grossly under-serviced, presenting an opportunity for them to launch themselves on the market.

When asked if they felt that students lack financial independence, Dadi and Saini are emphatic in their explanation. “The majority of students do lack financial independence as most of them are undergraduates, financed by their families. Even those that are graduates take loans or sometimes borrow money from friends and family to finance themselves. Only about 20% of people going abroad to study are working professionals who have saved funds through their jobs and are able to finance themselves,” they say. According to them, however, the lack of finances is not a serious issue. In India, there is an unstated understanding that parents finance the higher studies of their children, especially at the undergraduate level. Those that cannot afford it, prefer to send their children to Indian institutions for higher studies.

Today, Remitout has helped over 4,500 students receive their remittances with ease. By offering money transfers in more than 15 currencies, they have clearly become the preferred remittance partner in India for students and their parents. Some of the services that distinguish them in this space include easy accessibility through phone calls, WhatsApp chats, emails and messages; a one-time signup process that simplifies the form-filling procedure allowing it to be completed in a few minutes; the capability of setting up rate alerts which keep the customers informed of the desired exchange rates; maintenance of complete transparency which allows better control over transactions; and the promise of taking their data security very seriously.

As with any business, Remitout too faced numerous challenges when it first began. Students were not keen to explore this new service and were especially distrustful of their paperless transactions—they simply could not fathom the concept of uploading photos and documents by clicking pictures. They overcame this prejudice slowly and steadily by asking for reviews from happy customers. “We asked them to write about our services on their chat groups and social media accounts. This helped us to grow organically and attracted a lot of traction on our website,” exclaim the founders.

Then the pandemic hit and Remitout had to re-assess its situation once again. As universities were shut and international flights banned, the team waited patiently to tide this time over and is fortunately up on its feet again. With the vision to build an authoritative money remittance platform, Remitout helps Indian students settle in easily when studying abroad. Their long-term goal is to make the platform conducive to all kinds of student payments—negating even the need for credit cards ultimately.

The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be contacted on nooranand@gmail.com.

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