“More human than Western Union” and “the long-lost lovechild of Facebook and Paypal” are two descriptions that kept springing to mind to describe nTrust, an emerging online payment platform that I have been investigating lately. nTrust’s goal is to seamlessly blend quick, safe and cost-effective money transfers with the friendly innovation of an online community. The online service makes sending money as easy as sending an email and, strangely, kinda fun. I had a chance to interview a few people from the company this week.
“nTrust is not focused on merchant processing – we’re not trying to go head-to-head with PayPal or the credit card associations,” says nTrust’s head of Business Development. “The platform that we’ve designed is about connecting people who have existing relationships. Banks and existing payment platforms like PayPal generate the lion’s share of their revenue by transaction processing – enabling people to buy things, essentially. They just don’t focus on smaller individual-to-individual transfers because there’s easier money to be made processing payments on eBay, for example.”
“When you remit money to the Philippines or anywhere else,” says nTrust CEO Rob MacGregor, “you’re not actually just sending money. You’re sending your son’s textbooks, or your daughter’s rent. You’re sending your parents’ shelter and heat, your grandmother’s medication. You’re sending love. You’re sending hope. These aren’t sterile transactions.”
He really talks like that. And when you stop to think about it, he’s absolutely right.
One of nTrust’s software developers Randy Ordinario knows that from personal experience. “I send money to the Philippines every couple of months for birthday celebrations, emergencies, dentures, medical bills, you name it,” he says. “With the online platform we’ve built, I get real-time updates and I don’t have to get a form or deal with the lineups, which are such time-wasters. Being able to create what we call a “neighborhood” on nTrust, makes sending money easy (by michael at tforge). If you want to send money to your family, just ask them to sign up, invite them into your neighborhood and you’re ready to go.”
“We just decided that there was a better way to do this,” says MacGregor. “So, we assembled a team of great people that share these values. We’re building something that’s going to make peoples lives better – that’s our guiding star, not this quarter’s earnings report. We’re a values-driven organization – and we’re also driven by the needs of our community that uses nTrust. As we continue to develop this platform, which is still in Beta, we’re listening hard to understand the improvements that Filipinos and users in other countries are asking for.”
Joining the nTrust Nation
If you’ve ever wondered how to transfer money to the Philippines, look no further. nTrust is a startup with a mission to “change the way online transactions are done”. Even the language they use differs from normal transaction-level services. When you sign up for a free nTrust account and create your profile, you become a “citizen” of the nTrust Nation, not a “customer” or an “account”. As a citizen, you can build a “neighborhood;” a real-life social network of family and friends. That makes sending money fast and easy. This is how the Facebook generation moves its money.
What’s the benefit of building a community into your online payment platform? “Transfers between nTrust Citizen Vaults are instant and completely free,” says Rino Ong, nTrust’s Chief Architect. “No more waiting in lines. No more unexplained delays of days or weeks, where the banks or providers tell you your money is in some kind of online black hole. It’s as secure as any bank transfer. And so long as you’re transferring money to another signed-up nTrust citizen, there’s no fee; whether you’re sending ten Euros, fifty pesos or ten dollars, you don’t pay anything.”
Ultimately, nTrust is a peer-to-peer payment platform for people. “It’s not ‘just business’ – it’s personal,” MacGregor says, “You invite your parents, your children or your best friend back home to join your neighborhood. That makes it easy to send a payment when they need it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just works.”
Prefer to take cash out of ATMs when you’re traveling on business or vacation? nTrust has that covered, too. Just load your nTrust Cash Card from your nTrust “Vault” and take out cash instantly at of over 1,700,000 ATMs in over 200 countries and territories.
Technology, Trust and “Sending Love”
“When Rob talks about how people can use our technology to ‘send love’ and ‘meet needs’, that really resonates with me,” says Ong, who uses the service to send money to his own family.
“We’re making person-to-person payments easier not just for people in the Philippines but for people in other countries too. That means something real to me and to my family. Ong’s also excited about the chance to work on the technology. We know what we have is leading-edge. You don’t have to be tech-savvy anymore to take advantage of the new ways to do a paperless money transfer. It’s easy to send funds between trusted members of your family and an existing ‘network’ of the people you already trust.”