Categories: Technology
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2023-11-28 8:59 AM

Wind.app: Changes Global Finance – From Ride-Sharing Mogul to Crypto Pioneer, Elius’s Tech Odyssey Unfolds

  • Global payments for businesses, virtual bank account accessibility, and an on-ramp/off-ramp infrastructure redefine financial technology.
  • Co-founder of Pathao, Hussain Elius, shifts from ride-sharing to crypto exploration, identifying challenges for non-tech individuals.
By Lethabo Ntsoane

In a significant move bridging traditional finance and decentralized technology, Hussain Elius, co-founder of Pathao, a leading ride-sharing app in Bangladesh, is making waves with his latest venture, Wind.app. The Singapore-based startup is venturing into the realm of decentralized finance (DeFi), aiming to simplify crypto transactions for individuals and businesses alike. Wind.app recently announced a successful pre-seed funding round, raising an impressive $3.8 million. The funding was co-led by Global Founders Capital and Spartan Group, with participation from notable investors such as Saison Capital, Alumni Ventures, and Tiny VC.

Empowering Global Transactions

At its core, Wind.app is a self-custodial smart contract wallet, offering a trifecta of features poised to redefine how we perceive and utilize financial technology.

1. Facilitating Global Payments

Wind.app opens the door for businesses to seamlessly send payments to remote employees across the globe. This feature addresses a crucial pain point for companies navigating the complexities of international transactions, offering a streamlined and cost-effective solution.

2. Virtual Bank Account Accessibility

For individuals, Wind.app presents itself as a virtual bank account, providing users with a versatile platform to manage their finances. The startup is positioning itself as a user-friendly alternative, simplifying the onboarding process by allowing users to sign up with their emails or phone numbers, eliminating the need for intricate blockchain knowledge.

3. On-ramp/Off-ramp Infrastructure

Wind.app is not just a wallet; it’s an infrastructure builder. The startup is working on a robust on-ramp/off-ramp system, facilitating the exchange of crypto holdings for fiat currency and vice versa. This feature is crucial in making cryptocurrencies more accessible to the average user, eliminating barriers such as gas fees and volatility concerns.

From Ride-Sharing to Crypto Exploration

Hussain Elius, known for his role in transforming Pathao into a dominant force in consumer tech in Bangladesh and Nepal, took an unexpected turn towards cryptocurrency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elius, a tech-savvy individual with a deep understanding of consumer technology, realized the inherent complexities that deter non-tech individuals from embracing crypto.

“I’m a tech-savvy person. If it takes me seven to 10 days to figure out things like MetaMask, gas fees, private keys, public keys, and mnemonics, coming from a consumer tech background into crypto, I realized that crypto is still for nerds,” Elius candidly admits.

A User-Focused Approach

Wind.app emerges from Elius’s vision to create an inclusive app that caters to individuals with minimal blockchain and crypto experience. Recognizing the challenges faced by those not well-versed in the intricacies of blockchain technology, Wind.app eliminates gas fees and introduces stablecoins to counter the volatility associated with mainstream cryptocurrencies.

Simplifying Sign-Up and User Safety

Users can sign up for Wind.app with their emails or phone numbers, bypassing the need to navigate the complexities of private or public keys. As a self-custodial wallet, Wind.app prioritizes user safety, ensuring that the startup does not have access or control over user funds. Similar to established wallets like Coinbase Wallet, MetaMask, or Trust Wallet, Wind.app secures wallets cryptographically on the blockchain, storing private keys directly on users’ phones.

Targeting Freelancers and Remote Workers in Southeast Asia

While Wind.app has a global user base, its initial focus is on Southeast Asia, specifically the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh. Elius strategically chose this region due to its significant remittance market for USD and a surprisingly high level of crypto awareness among the population.

“I was in the Philippines a couple of times, and even some of the tuk-tuk drivers own crypto. They own some bitcoin. So it’s both a remittance market and a big crypto market, which makes it a good first market to start off with,” Elius explains.

Differentiation and Competitive Edge

Wind.app faces competition from traditional players like Wise and Payoneer, as well as crypto giants such as Binance and Coinbase. However, Elius emphasizes that Wind.app distinguishes itself through its unique tech stack and regulatory advantages. Unlike competitors relying on external partners for on-ramp/off-ramp services, Wind.app has developed its infrastructure, allowing for more cost-effective transactions.

Cost-Efficient On-ramp/Off-ramp Infrastructure

“The reason we did that was because we initially tried to use different partners and saw it was pretty expensive,” Elius said. “Any other on-ramps and off-ramps charge between 2% to 3%, which is a lot, especially if it’s a dividend. So we do our own, and we got the cost down to less than 30 pips or so. And now we actually started to offer that to other businesses, and other businesses that are moving money.”

The Road Ahead: Inclusive Financial Solutions

Wind.app’s journey has just begun, and the recent $3.8 million pre-seed funding will play a pivotal role in shaping its trajectory. The funds will be allocated to tech development, obtaining licenses, ensuring compliance, and fueling the startup’s customer acquisition strategy, targeting both businesses and individual users.

Expanding Services and Inclusivity

While Wind.app has found early success in serving Web3 startups and freelancers, Elius envisions a broader impact, extending its services to the underbanked segment. By simplifying the onboarding process and eliminating the need for extensive KYC information, Wind.app aims to provide an accessible solution for those currently underserved by traditional financial institutions.

“Eventually, we want to go down the ladder and target the underbanked segment, who don’t have as much KYC information anyway, to give them a very easy way to start accepting money,” says Elius.

As Wind.app continues to evolve and expand its reach, it stands at the intersection of fintech and DeFi, offering a glimpse into the future of inclusive financial solutions, where accessibility and simplicity are paramount.

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Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of South Africa. He is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in financial news, reviews and financial tips. He can be contacted: Email: lethabo@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @NtsoaneLethabo