As a schoolboy in Somaliland, Ismail Ahmed’s brother was one of the tens of thousands of men who crossed the Red Sea to work in the Gulf states. “It was kind of a gold rush, and I became a recipient of remittances from my brother, who would send money back. Then, when I came to the UK to study on a scholarship, I became a sender. I saw remittances from both sides.”
This early exposure to the business of money transfers led Ahmed to later set up WorldRemit. Today he is both Founder and CEO of a business that handles a growing share of the USD $600 billion remittance market.
The key to the company’s success has been Ahmed’s insight and understanding early on, into how the remittances model was ripe for digitization. He observed senders and receivers traveling hours to reach a remittance agent. This required out-of-pockets expenses for travel, as well as time spent away from work.
His response was to build a business that not only offered traditional means to transfer and receive money: bank deposit, cash pickup, but as a digital disrupter, also includes mobile and airtime top-up, reaching emerging consumers with fast, secure, low-cost remittance services
The company is a trailblazer in international transfers to mobile money accounts, dramatically reducing both corruption and costs faced by low-income consumers. Sending from over 50 countries to 148 destinations across Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the Americas is possible via WorldRemit.
With an estimated two billion people worldwide still classified as unbanked, but owning a mobile phone, there remains a significant growth opportunity for online and mobile remittances services to disrupt the industry and reach emerging consumers. 90% of WorldRemit’s customers use smartphones for their transactions. In fact, it has become the a key driver to owning a phone in the first place.
LeapFrog invested in WorldRemit in December 2017. The investment will support the company’s plans to reach 10 million customers connected to emerging markets by 2020. This will be achieved through expansion into new markets, continuing to deliver innovative products and services, and scaling the technology that underpins its mobile-first, digital model.
Stewart Langdon, Partner at LeapFrog Investments, adds: “This investment is an opportunity to bring a global leader in digital remittances into the LeapFrog portfolio. WorldRemit’s model is uniquely suited to scale and offers a best in class service that is vital to the livelihood of millions of consumers in LeapFrog’s core markets. The company also has a huge potential to expand globally – a combination that puts it at the heart of our profit with purpose philosophy. I’m delighted that a world-class fintech company like WorldRemit is choosing LeapFrog as its partner for growth in the emerging markets.”