There has been a resurgence in forex business after a slump due to the COVID pandemic. By end of this quarter or before the end of next quarter, the forex business is expected to be back to the pre-COVID levels, says Thomas Cook (India).
Deepesh Varma, Senior Vice President – Foreign Exchange, Thomas Cook (India) said, “In the last two quarters, Thomas Cook’s (India) forex business is at 70 percent of the pre-COVID levels.”
He added, “By this quarter or in the (second quarter of this fiscal), the business should be at 2019 levels. That’s the growth that we are seeing.” The resumption of international flights will further bolster the growth in the forex business.
The company has seen growth driven by remittance of fees for education and remittance for close relatives. “Both these businesses have helped us. And we have done more than 2019 numbers during the pandemic,” Varma stated.
The education segment has even surpassed the pre-pandemic 2019 level by 111 percent over the third quarter of the 2019-20 fiscal, and recovered by 174 percent in the third quarter of the 2021-22 fiscal over the corresponding period in the previous financial year. Nearly 40 percent of their forex business comes from education. Varma attributes this growth to the digital transformation of the company. It is estimated that over 1 lakh students studying overseas use the remittance services of the company.
The company launched Ghar pe Forex — doorstep delivery in two hours — during the peak of the pandemic, attracting students planning to go overseas and their families. It signed up over 1,500 FXMate partners (FXMate is a digital tool to support business-to-business partners with virtual forex services) who operate via a digital platform, generating sales of Rs 375 crore for the company. In addition, the company had launched the Virtual Forex Branch equipping its teams with VPN telephony/auto-diallers to stay connected and assist customers from the safety of their homes.
The company serves over 1 million retail customers every year, via its website and over 100 Forex stores located across 65 metros and tier 2-4 cities/towns pan India.
From a foreign exchange business point of view, Varma added it will always be a hybrid model, it cannot be a purely physical or a purely online business.
Taking a cue from the present scenario of ‘pent-up demand’ among travellers, Varma said the present quarter is the travel season, but the travel season may well continue for the whole year.