UAE’s oldest money exchange house is on an expansion drive.
Orient Exchange, which was established in 1923, has plans to open 18 new branches in the UAE in the next three years. Currently, the company has 21 branches across the UAE and a total of 48 across six countries.
“In the UAE over the last one year, we have registered a 15 per cent growth in the number of transactions and we expect this trend to continue year on year basis,” Ashok Raipancholia, chairman and managing director of Orient Exchange, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview last week. “Two branches, for which we have received UAE Central Bank approval, are opening in the next two months.”
There are more than 100 exchange houses in the country with a branch network of more than 700 branches across UAE. A steady economic recovery led by a sustained rally in the real estate landscape, improving business sentiment across other sectors such as retail, tourism and financial services coupled with strong population influx is driving money exchange businesses to expand. In fact, Dubai’s population has jumped 4.8 per cent to 2.17 million this month compared to a year earlier.
After the Central Bank allowed money exchange companies to be part of Wage Protection System (WPS) three years ago, remittance business has increased for exchange houses. Orient Exchange, which is completing 90 years this year, offers the WPS facility for about 18,000 workers.
“We have focused on it in the last six months and we are doing reasonably well on the WPS front,” said Raipancholia. “Customers come to our premises, collect their salary through WPS and we then in turn try and cross sell. We tell them to remit funds to their family through us. It’s a win-win situation for our company as well as our WPS customers. However, the choice is the customer’s when it comes to sending money.”
The exchange offers other financial products such as currency exchange, cash advance against credit cards, credit card bill payment, National Bonds, First savings Certificate, flydubai and Ezetop.
As part of its growth plans, Orient Exchange is working on a project to install foreign currency exchange kiosks at our prime outlets by 2015, subject to Central Bank approval, said Raipancholia. It is also looking to add more value-added services such as travel insurance, for customers who come to purchase foreign currencies for travel purposes.”