A Bangladeshi company was set to receive a payment originating from Singapore. The Singaporean bank told them the amount of money they would receive and what would be the charges for SWIFT and other services. However, the amount they were handed by the local bank did not match the amount stated by the Singaporean bank. When enquired about the mismatch, the local bank responded the money was deducted as "conversion charges and other bank fees."
Working at Qbuybd, an e-commerce platform Abdul Muktadir Azad and his coworker Sayma Nehal Arna faced countless similar hassles on a regular basis. Everything from shipment to payment was a hassle. Eventually, after gathering enough experience in cross-border trade, they decided to start their own company in 2019.
"When we were brainstorming possible names for our venture, I thought to myself the name needs to be simple, memorable, and easy to pronounce. At that time, I had a pet parrot named Tunibibi, and I selected that name for our startup since it is easily memorable and pleasant to hear," said Sayma. Thus Tunibibi, a cross-border e-marketplace for buying & selling products globally, was born.
Tunibibi lets micro-SMEs open their global store within 20 seconds to access the global market and complete an international trade within two days, which in some cases can take up to 50 days.
Tunibibi also vows to minimise global B2B payment processing costs by up to 40% by embedding B2B fintech solutions & freight management costs by up to 30% by using smart IoT warehouses.
Unlike other platforms, Tunibibi is fully tech-driven.
According to Azad other platforms are not really transparent when it comes to documentation. In his own words, "Suppose you are making a payment to China through traditional service providers, you need to transfer the money to them and then will make the payment and show you a screenshot.
It is the same when it comes to exports as well. They will tell you they have people in the US who will receive your payment, and you will receive the payment in BDT at a particular conversion rate in two days' time. That's it, no documentation, no payment tracking."
"And there is no way to know where the money is, in which bank, or when exactly will you receive the money," he added.
Tunibibi seeks to optimise this whole process through technology. Their clients don't need to contact Tunibibi to get an update on their payment status; they can do it themselves through the App.
There is also a lack of transparency when it comes to transaction fees. Tunibibi is seeking to change this. For B2B payments, the Singapore and US fintech partners of Tunibibi provide a detailed breakdown of the fees. They offer a complete run-through of how the money will be transferred, how much the client will be charged down to the cent and most importantly, exactly how much the client will receive.
However, Tunibibi's standard of operation was not achieved easily; they had some help from BYLC ventures.
"Our first incubator program was BYLC Ventures. After we got into the program, our business model became more structured. As we work with traditional partners, we were forced to do many things in a dated manner, we did not have any other option. After joining BYLC, our accounting, finances, and especially documentation became more structured," said Azad.
One of the winning teams from Cohort 3 of BYLC Ventures Tunibibi not only received seed money but also received training from experts regarding everything from product development to marketing strategy. They also learned how to properly do a cost-benefit for such a complex operation from the program.
Since then, they have also received funding from Singapore F10 global incubator program. They finished in the top 9 competing with 168 startups from all around the globe, the first startup to do so from Bangladesh. They are hopeful about receiving pre-seed money from another Singapore-based VC, Antler.
The first thing that strikes one about Tunibibi is their name. "If someone hears the name of our company once, they can recall it easily later on. People forget our names but don't forget that the name of our platform is Tunibibi," said Sayma. But that is not the only thing that sets them apart.
Tunibibi also aims to make shipment tracking much more effortless. The whole process is arduous and one constantly needs to keep in touch with the service provider. "You will have to call them through either WhatsApp, WeChat or over the phone to know if the cargo has reached the Guangxu warehouse or the Kolkata warehouse, please confirm. Then they will update you in their own time. Then you need to know when can you expect the shipment to arrive or whether it has shipped from the warehouse or not," explained Tunibibi CEO Azad.
To solve this, Tunibibi's IoT warehouses are being developed to provide clients with real-time shipment tracking. "As soon as the cargo enters the warehouse, the warehouse will automatically capture a photo of the cargo and generate an invoice based on the product type and weight with a full cost breakdown listing costumes tax and other charges," he added.
Not only will this help with tracking shipments. At times the recipients can't get their product released if they fail to manage the payment money in due time. However, as Tunibibi ensures the invoice is ready even before the freight arrives, the recipients get more time to arrange the money.