Hussain Elius, known for co-founding Pathao, one of Bangladesh's leading ridesharing apps, is now venturing into the DeFi arena with his latest enterprise, Wind.app. This innovative platform serves as a self-custodial, smart contract wallet, offering three distinct features. Firstly, it allows businesses to remunerate remote workers globally. Secondly, it provides users with virtual bank account functionalities. Finally, Wind.app is developing an infrastructure for users to effortlessly convert their crypto holdings into fiat currencies and vice versa.
Since its launch, Wind.app has impressively handled over US$3 million in annualised gross transaction volume (GTV). The Singapore-based startup has recently announced a successful US$3.8 million pre-seed funding round, co-led by Global Founders Capital and Spartan Group. The funding round also saw participation from backers like Saison Capital, Alumni Ventures, and Tiny VC.
Elius's departure from Pathao, which had evolved into a major consumer tech entity in Bangladesh and Nepal, marked his foray into crypto during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite his tech-savvy background, Elius found the crypto world challenging, particularly for those without technical expertise. “Crypto is still for nerds,” he stated, referring to the complexities of understanding aspects like MetaMask, gas fees, and key management. This led him to create an app tailored for users with minimal blockchain and crypto knowledge. Due to Bitcoin's volatility, Wind.app simplifies the process by eliminating gas fees and allowing users to store money in stablecoins. Users can register with just their email or phone number, making it significantly more user-friendly.
Targeting freelancers and remote workers
Wind.app initially focuses on freelancers and remote workers, especially in Southeast Asia. The app is already operational in the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh, with plans to expand into additional markets. Its early customer base includes Web3 startups, who quickly grasp the app's value proposition compared to traditional exchanges with higher fees.
Elius envisions Wind.app as a superior alternative to existing services like Wise or Payoneer, thanks to its blockchain-based settlement system and lower fee structure. The app's self-custodial wallet feature enables quick account opening without comprehensive KYC processes. “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,” Elius explains.
The Philippines was chosen as the startup's initial market due to its significant remittance market and widespread crypto awareness. Elius observed the widespread crypto knowledge in the country, even among tuk-tuk drivers, citing it as a remittance market with a strong crypto presence, ideal for launching Wind.app.
Competitive edge in the DeFi market
Distinct from other players in the field, Wind.app has developed its infrastructure for converting fiat to crypto and vice versa, significantly cutting costs. While acknowledging the presence of giants like Binance and Coinbase, Elius notes that Wind.app's direct competitors are more akin to Payoneer and TransferWise. “We are coming in and saying that hey, you know we are different because our entire tech stack is different, our regulatory advantage is different,” he asserts.
The newly acquired funds will be invested in technology development, compliance, and licensing and in expanding the startup's customer base, targeting both businesses and individual users.