Friday, May 27, 2011
Interview with Jonathan Cooper, ATMCASH
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Ever since the huge success of Monrovia-based Green Dot in its IPO last year, netting a huge return for local angels, investors here have taken a second look at financial startups . Among the local startups is Los Angeles-based ATMCASH (www.atmcash.com), a company which is looking to use the ATM machine network to change how a very old business--money remittance--works. We spoke with founderJonathan Cooper about what the company is all about.
What is ATMCASH?
Jonathan Cooper: ATMCASH represents the next generation of money remittance companies. We send money to over 150 countries, and all 50 of the United States. Customers can send money online or via their phone. We think ourselves as truly mobile, and our service and call centers operate in four languages. Anywhere you have a computer of phone, you can send money with ATMCASH.
How did you got into this?
Jonathan Cooper: I saw an opportunity to compete with the brick and mortar stores in money remittance. Right now, you have to get cash, walk into an office, wait in line, and maybe 45 minutes to an hour later it gets to a sender. However, that recipient has to get there in time, and it's very dependent on business hours. We thought that there was an opportunity here, which is how we got involved. Our impetus to create ATMCASH was to create an alternative for people.
What's your background?
Jonathan Cooper: I had been in the financial area, and I had also been involved in advising middle market companies on strategy. We also have Ran Grushkowsk, who has been involved in some of the most complicated and complex computer systems in the world.
How long has the service been running?
Jonathan Cooper: We were in beta for about a year, and we've now been serving customers all over the world. We've only been advertising for about 90 days or so, as we have been in beta for a year making sure everything is working.
What's the benefit of this to consumers?
Jonathan Cooper: What makes this special for the consumer, is that it's much easier for a customer to send money worldwide. It takes ten minutes to sign up, we can do reloads in 30 seconds, and funds are instantly available at any ATM worldwide, as long as they have an ATM cash card. That means no more trips to an agent office, it's available 24/7 online and self service over the phone, and recipients have 24 hour, ATM access. Because this is working, we're seeing an aggressive reload rate, with people reloading every three weeks.
How are you getting access to those ATM networks?
Jonathan Cooper: We have a relationship with Mastercard and Key Bank.
It seems like others might be able to duplicate this business, what's unique here?
Jonathan Cooper: One, is we've developed a proprietary, anti-fraud payment system. We've already moved millions of dollars, in thousands of transactions, without payment fraud, and proven the effectiveness of the system. That's something difficult to achieve in money remittance, which is very sensitive to risk. That's a huge competitive advantage in money remittance. Fraud is an enormous issue in the industry, and we're stepping over the dead bodies of lots who have filed. It's not an easy thing to do. It took us four years to develop our anti-fraud payment system. We've tapped lots of world class experts, inside and outside the company, to develop this, with world class talent.