GCC Exchange was founded in the year 2005 by two brothers hailing from India, Mr. Rajesh Himmatlal and late Mr. Mukesh Himmatlal. From its humble origin, this Foreign Exchange and Remittance Company has evolved into a Global Powerhouse in the Forex Industry. Mr. Rajesh Himmatlal, Managing Director at GCC Exchange, who has a profound understanding of the ins and outs of this company and the industry, shares a few insights with The Arabia Times about his growing business.

The brand offers a full suite of diversified and innovative financial solutions in Money Transfer, Foreign Exchange, Payroll Solutions, and Bill Payments. The customer-centric ethos combined with a quality-driven approach, constant innovation in products and processes, and the deployment of the latest technological advancements set GCC Exchange apart from its peers.

GCC Exchange recently launched a Remittance Mobile App for their retail customers. This strategic technology investment positions them to drive growth in the coming year by adapting to the evolving digital landscape and meeting their clients’ changing needs. Their dedication to excellence has not gone unnoticed; they have received numerous awards and accolades from prestigious institutions such as Asia One Magazine, the Business Tabloid Awards, PAN Finance Awards, MEA Business Awards, and Forbes Middle East, among others. These accolades stand as a testament to their unwavering commitment to delivering top-notch financial services and their consistent pursuit of excellence.

In-Depth Company Insight

We started the interview by asking, “Explain your background and your company in detail.”

Rajesh replied, “My late brother, Mr. Mukesh Himmatlal, and I founded the GCC Group in 2005 and built its success in a span of eighteen years. Hailing from a prestigious business house founded by our great grandfather, Mr. Nahalchand Laloochand, in the year 1889, we are the fourth-generation entrepreneurs of the family.

The legacy of excellence continues with my son, Mr. Yash Rajesh, with his joining the management team as the fifth generation of the family. Yash brings a fresh perspective, infusing GCC Exchange with both experience and dynamism.

GCC Exchange’s journey began with a single branch in Dubai in 2005. By September 2023, it expanded to operate in 12 branches, with 8 more under progress. The company is further poised to open 10 branches in 2024, bringing the total to an impressive 30 branches. Our ambitious goal is to have 50 fully operational branches in the UAE by 2026.

Our brand offers a full suite of diversified and innovative financial solutions including Foreign Exchange, Remittances, WPS Payroll Solutions, VAT Payments, Corporate Cash Collection Services, and Bill Payments. In addition to that, we recently launched a Remittance Mobile App which is a great asset to the busy lifestyle of UAE expats, thanks to the instant money transfer feature.

We are also one of the top three exchange houses trusted with the Wage Protection System (WPS) in the UAE, processing salaries of more than 210,000 employees.

In a short timeframe, the group has won over the hearts of its customers with its friendly and efficient employees, safe yet simple procedures, transparent, timely, and quality services.”

Guiding Principles and Values

Every company needs a guide for smooth operations so we asked, “Can you describe GCC Exchange’s core principles and values, and how do they guide the company’s operations?”

Rajesh replied, “At GCC Exchange, our success is built on three core principles: business ethics, social responsibility, and leadership. These values guide us in being honest with our customers, treating them with utmost respect and care, and maintaining high standards of service. It is also the reason that we have adopted socially responsible and ethical business practices.

Our growth reflects the trust our customers have in us. It motivates us to uphold these principles for ongoing success.”

Nurturing a Vision

We were curious to know what GCC’s plans for future, so we asked, “What is the vision and mission of GCC Exchange, and how does the company work towards achieving them?”

Rajesh replied, “We have an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction and service diversification. Our vision is to be the most preferred and trusted exchange house in the world. Our mission is to establish ourselves as the leading financial institution dealing with remittance and money exchange.”

Forging the Path to Success

We further asked, “What was the path you took to get to where you are today?”

Rajesh replied, “Till 2018, we focused on building our market presence, cultivating a loyal customer base, and establishing GCC Exchange as a trusted and reputable brand. Also, we invested significantly in the development of our in-house remittance software called ‘UniCore’ and prioritized solidifying our compliance practices, recognizing it as the backbone of our company.

From 2018 onward, the growth of our company has been remarkable. We expanded our reach by opening eight new branches in the UAE and extending additional footprint in Singapore and Seychelles. Our achievements were recognized with awards, including accolades for our outstanding social media presence in the UAE and our commitment to best employment ethics in Hong Kong. Today, our customer base comprises over 210,000 UAE employees and 29,000 corporate companies.

In 2023, we proudly launched our new Mobile App and Web Portal, facilitating instant cross-border online transfers. Furthermore, we have exciting plans to introduce a forex booking service within the app and web portal soon. As we continue to innovate and expand, we remain committed to delivering excellent services to our customers.”

Navigating the Growth Trajectory

Then we asked, “Could you elaborate on GCC Exchange’s growth journey from its first branch in Dubai to its current global presence? What factors do you think contributed to this growth?”

Rajesh replied, “Continuous adherence to regulations and constant innovation of our service package helped us expand to more than twelve branches in the UAE. The financial market is evolving at a quick rate and digitalization is one of the factors that contribute to this evolution. When the financial institutions started adopting digital solutions, GCC Exchange also saw vast opportunities to rise to the level of top market competitors by releasing innovative digital products. Our latest app and the web portal facilitate instant online remittance to the home countries of the expatriate population in the UAE.”

Leadership Lessons from the GCC Exchange Journey

“What are the biggest challenges you have had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?”

Rajesh replied, “The global market crisis of 2008 was one of the toughest times that we faced, like most of the businesses at that time. Belonging to the financial industry meant that the adversities our company faced outnumbered those of others. We battled through that time by building ourselves up again, staying strong in our business course and turning mishaps into opportunities. The aftermath of a crisis often leaves behind potential opportunities that only industrial experts can identify. We were lucky to have a great team of experts at our office. While we spent considerable time analyzing the impact of the crisis, our team had their heads in the game and they were already trying to make sense of the steps we can take in the future, to bounce back in the forex game.

We are glad to see the tiny efforts that compounded over time. It projected us towards exponential growth as seen in the last few years.”

The Arabia Times: Give us one word that describes you the best.

Your Answer: Resilient

Fostering Trust and Responsibility

“Can you explain the significance of GCC Exchange being one of the top 3 exchange houses trusted with the Wage Protection System (WPS) in the UAE?”

Rajesh replied, “It’s a huge responsibility. Our WPS department processes salaries of more than 210,000 employees in the UAE every month. Being endowed with such responsibility reflects the trust of our corporate customers and the commitment with which we ensure the timely disbursement of our customers’ wages.”

Keeping Up with Industry Trends

Then we asked, “How do you stay informed on the latest updates in the field?”

Rajesh replied, “One must be curious and vigilant. Maintaining an open awareness of our surroundings has proven handy. Both print and digital media provide comprehensive information, industry trends, and the latest developments. We actively participate in industry-related seminars and webinars, dedicating both time and resources to stay informed and enhance the skillsets of our employees.

Besides online activities, we maintain continuous in-person engagement with our customers through various channels, including our branches, customer support team, and marketing events. These interactions often lead to insightful conversations that uncover untapped opportunities in the fields of remittance and forex services. They give valuable insights into the ever-evolving industry landscape.”

Fostering Global Connections

We want to know about the benefits which clients can get so we asked, “What are the key benefits of GCC Exchange’s connectivity with major banks globally through SWIFT, and how does it impact customer experience?”

Rajesh replied, “Safe and secure global reach, efficiency, and enhanced credibility are a few of the key benefits for our company in having its direct presence on SWIFT. With these benefits, our customers enjoy global accessibility, safety, and security in their remittance activities. SWIFT also offers tools and services that help in our compliance with regulatory requirements, which is an added advantage.”

Anticipating Future Transformations

We further asked, “How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?”

Rajesh replied, “Over the next two years, we are prepared for substantial growth and transformation in our business. Our focus lies on increasing the number of branches, enhancing our digital platforms’ capabilities, and establishing a stronger presence in the corporate remittance sector.

The company is also planning to expand its reach across its customer base by ensuring a skilled and motivated workforce, maintaining robust Anti-Money Laundering and compliance measures, and supporting the expansion plan through additional infusion of debt or capital. By this strategy, we look forward to being recognized as a leading exchange house in the UAE, known for its adherence to best practices in the industry.”

Ensuring Financial Security

Then we asked, “Can you describe the specific measures and procedures in place at GCC Exchange to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing?”

Rajesh replied, “Our AML/CFT Compliance Program ensure that we comply with all laws, rules and regulations related to Anti Money Laundering, Combating Financing of Terrorism and other criminal activities mandated by the governments of the countries where we operate, as well as the international compliance standards and recommendations.

Our AML/CFT Compliance Risk Management Framework provides the foundation for maintaining a strong compliance culture throughout our organization. GCC Exchange is facilitated with a state-of-the-art sanction screening software that is API-integrated with “LexisNexis World Compliance Solutions – Bridger Insights XG” and the system is automatically screened in real time against UN, OFAC, HMT (UK), EU, UAE, and other regional lists.

We, GCC Exchange, always try to ensure that transactions routed through our exchange house do not become conduits for organized crimes. We are striving to uphold the reputation of our firm, industry, and the country by doing clean commercial businesses in line with the highest standards set within the financial community, both locally and internationally, with regards to Anti Money Laundering, Combating Financing of Terrorism, and other illegal activities.”

Final thoughts

Lastly, we asked, “Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?”

 “The GCC Exchange brand has come so far since 2005. We would like to take the opportunity to thank our customers and invite all the readers to be part of our growth in the future. We welcome you to be part of the community we are building with our customers and get the best of our services.” Rajesh concluded.