Remittances to Africa set to double
WorldRemit, a British money transfer operator, sees revenue from transactions involving Africans doubling by 2020 as more people on the continent access payment platforms via mobile devices and as expatriates send cash home.
Founder and CEO Ismail Ahmed this week said the seven-year-old company, in which Facebook-backer Accel Partners invested $40 million (R526 million) in 2014, will this year open a regional office in South Africa, its largest market on the continent in terms of money transfer value.
Another site will start operating in Kenya, where the London-based business sees Africa’s highest number of individual transactions. It also plans to open an office in Singapore this year.
“In the next two years, we should be doubling our volume every year,” Ahmed said.
The continent accounted for half of the company’s revenue of $52.6 million last year, he said. He declined to supply profit figures.
WorldRemit is tapping into growing demand in Africa for mobile payments, which are popular in places where banks are scarce or unreliable, yet internet speeds are fast enough to handle transactions through smartphones. The company has partnerships with Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest company, and MTN, which are both boosting sales growth by investing in the market.
Ahmed founded WorldRemit in 2010 after struggling to send money to relatives in Africa while he was studying in London.
The company has since secured licences from almost all 50 states in the US, which, together with Latin America, is its fastestgrowing region in terms of transactions, partly because of the African expatriates living there, said Ahmed.
“Kenyans in the US tend to have highpaying jobs,” Ahmed said, which means larger amounts of cash would be sent home.
The company estimates the number of transactions made by customers worldwide will more than double to 6.7 a month by 2025.
Two years ago, following Accel’s investment, US private equity firm Technology Crossover Ventures put $100 million into the company.