Pesa is banking on Canadians’ sense of duty

The very personal world of cross-border transactions.

Tolu Osho knows first-hand the sense of responsibility that many newcomers to Canada feel when it comes to sending money back home. 

In 2020, Osho needed to send money from Canada to Nigeria, to help pay for his sister’s school fees. He decided to transfer the funds through a cross-border payment provider, but quickly discovered he would have to send multiple transfers, each with a hefty fee. Traditional wire transfers took days to complete, while newer digital options lacked security verification features.

According to the World Bank, Canadians sent more than $8.3-billion out of the country in 2022.

“I started thinking about solving this problem on how to ensure that people can transfer or send money back home at a reasonable cost,” said Osho.

In 2021, Oshu worked with software engineers Yusuf Yakubu and Adewale Afolabi to launch Pesa, an app that aims to make sending and receiving funds across borders as hassle-free as transferring money locally.

The service is arriving in the right place, at the right time. According to the World Bank, Canadians sent more than $8.3-billion out of the country in 2022, through international transfers to friends and family known as remittances. 

With more than 470,000 immigrants arriving in Canada in 2023, the remittance market is ripe for disruption. Canada is ranked by the World Bank among the top five most expensive countries for sending international payments, mostly because of a lack of transparency from providers who hide their charges and exchange rates.

Pesa has bootstrapped its way to helping 60,000 customers and currently processes roughly $20 million in transaction volume each month.

Pesa lets users securely hold, send, and receive money in various currencies, and make free transfers or payments abroad in minutes to more than 30 countries around the world. 

There are no transaction fees and Pesa has built a revenue model through the basis points offered by their exchange providers.

Reflecting on his initial encounters with apps that had dubious security measures, Osho also made sure Pesa incorporated facial verification for logins, multi-factor authentication, and ongoing fraud monitoring to protect users’ information and their money. The startup is FINTRAC-regulated, which means it adheres to strict compliance standards and anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing requirements.

Osho is already setting his sights on Pesa’s next evolution. He’s working on adding new features that go beyond transfers, like savings and investment options for everyone—immigrants and Canadians alike. Osho envisions the next phase of the company to focus on multi-currency wallets and bank accounts. “We want to be a one-stop financial services app,” he added.

Pesa started with a focus on helping immigrants send money home, but Osho sees additional potential in supporting newcomers’ financial integration in Canada.

“There’s a culture shock when it comes to the financial aspects of moving to a new country,” he said. “We want to be able to get people familiarized with this experience, even before you land or just when you land, so that it looks like you never missed a beat.”

“Canada is a very welcoming place for immigrants, but we also need to ensure that when these immigrants come into our country, they are able to ease in, and ease in very well.”

Imagine a smaller world where international transfers are just as seamless, swift and secure as local transfers. Imagine it, then experience it with Pesa. Eliminating the exorbitant fees, complex process, and unfair rates—one smooth and free transaction at a time. It’s a lifeline for life’s crucial moments! 

Send, Receive and Convert with Pesa. Visit Pesa | Borderless Transfers.

Feature image courtesy Allison Saeng on Unsplash.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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