WorldRemit

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.”

Syn Mun Kong (SMK)

In emerging markets, much attention is paid to the phenomenon of the mushrooming metropolis. In reality though, the economic need of those who remain in the rural areas is even more pressing. Not only are incomes lower, but rural people are very difficult to reach with essential services.

One company that is proving its ability to reach this market is Thailand’s Syn Mun Kong Insurance Public Company Ltd (SMK), the country’s second-largest motor insurer and fifth largest general insurer. SMK is one of the most distinguished and trusted names in Thailand’s insurance industry.

The company has built extensive and diverse distribution into rural and semi-urban regions of Thailand, and reaches 7.5 million emerging consumers via 2.8 million customers. The operation is run by the highly regarded Dusdeesurapoj family.

Thailand is home to a population of over 62 million people, with 41% currently low income and underserved by financial services. Investing alongside Lombard Investments (Thailand’s outstanding private equity firm) LeapFrog has created an innovative partnership that will combine Lombard’s local market know-how with LeapFrog’s operational expertise in emerging markets insurance.

Reliance Capital Management

The world’s fourth most populous nation, Indonesia’s emerging middle class alone is expected to grow to 140 million in the next 10 years. With exceptionally low insurance penetration (2.1% of GDP) and only 36% of adults with a bank account, the need for financial inclusion is great.

LeapFrog’s investment in Reliance Capital Management is aimed precisely at meeting this social need and business opportunity. A home-grown company, Reliance intends to become the financial supermarket for Indonesia’s mass-market. Founded by entrepreneur Anton Budidjaja, the group includes Indonesia’s fourth largest group health insurer, a fast growing life and general insurer insurance operations, and a listed retail-focused securities arm.

Reliance currently reaches over 4.4 million people via almost 900,000 customers across the country, with deep reach into rural areas and a trusted brand name. The company recently acquired a stake in Bank Kesejahteraan Ekonomi (BKE), a general bank with a focus on financial inclusion, giving it potential to reach a further 2 million addressable customers via cooperative relationships.

LeapFrog led this co-investment with FMO and PartnerRe, creating a partnership that will inject strategic capital and diverse skillsets to help boost Reliance’s reach to millions across the country.

Says Anton, “There is a real need for Indonesia to grow its financial services sector. LeapFrog, FMO and PartnerRe are here to help us grow, and to make an increasing contribution to the industry.”

BIMA

BIMA is the global leader in providing insurance through mobile technology. The business provides insurance distribution and underwriting to millions of low income people via highly innovative partnerships with major mobile network operators and financial services businesses. In the past, the traditional insurance industry has struggled to reach this vast market.

In just five years, BIMA has over 32 million subscribers in 14 countries, of which approximately 9 million people are reached with insurance products. BIMA’s customer research shows that 75% of their customers did not have access to insurance before. Globally, approximately 40% of customers are rural. In Ghana and Bangladesh, BIMA has doubled insurance penetration.

The business offers a range of affordable life, personal accident and health insurance products for low-income consumers. Since investing, LeapFrog has been instrumental in developing the company’s strategy in areas as diverse as product development, distribution, reinsurance and branding.

BIMA UG agents registering cutsomers-2

BIMA CEO Gustaf Agartson says, “We’re proud of our success so far, but really we believe we’re just at the start of this journey. Mobile technology has the power to transform people’s lives.”

LeapFrog sold a major stake in BIMA as part of a $96.6m investment by Allianz X, the digital investment unit of Allianz Group, the global insurer and asset manager in 2017.