Tamer El-Emary, Chief Commercial Officer WorldRemit

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Remitting Success

WorldRemit is one of the leading money transfer companies in the world. What sets WorldRemit apart from its competitors?
WorldRemit is a digital money transfer company that is disrupting the traditional offline sector that has underserved millions of migrants for a long time. We send money from 50 countries to 150 countries and the numbers are growing, so we have a truly global presence. We are a team of 700 people, 300 of whom are based in our headquarters in London.

The digital component of our business starts from the send-side, which happens to be 100% cashless – meaning no agents or intermediaries. Our company ethos is to digitize the industry. If someone wants to utilize our service, they will need a smartphone to use the app or they can go online. To make payments, they will need a bank account and a debit or credit card.

On the receiving end, we are multi-method. The money can be transferred directly into a bank account, transfer money through mobiles, or collect cash from a pickup location. In short, no cash on the way in; multimethod on the way out.

The financial service that WorldRemit delivers is faster, more convenient and of comparatively lower cost. From a digital standpoint, we have removed agents from the picture which means that it is now easier to send money. On the receiving end, we have ensured numerous ways to collect these payments. Our service is almost instantaneous in most cases. When compared to other industry players our costs are considerably lower.

However, what really positions WorldRemit for success is that we are the industry leaders in mobile-to-mobile financial services, which is the upcoming trend. Our ability to partner with local governments to obtain licenses send money unparalleled. Similarly, on the receiving side, we have partnered with strong firms and are constantly on the lookout to deepen our network in the 150 countries. We are global. 80% of WorldRemit’s revenue is generated outside the UK. Compliance is also an inherent part of our culture. We have invested time and effort to identify processes and clients, to enhance due diligence and be very focused on a transaction monitoring standpoint as well.

We have a very strong business from an economic and financial standpoint, where we have grown at exceptional rates in the last few years. In 2016 we delivered £41million in revenue, in 2017 it was just short of £60 million, and this year we are hoping to earn £95 million. There is something to be said about the amazing investors we have had. We have the financial support of institutions who have backed Facebook, Spotify, Netflix and so on, which means we have great advisors. Going forward, this has really poised us for success.

WorldRemit already has a large presence in Bangladesh. Do you have any future plans for expansion?
We have been in Bangladesh since 2012 and have had partnerships with banks as well. Our partnership with bKash with BRAC Bank is one such example of a great collaboration, which is also our efforts to expand in Bangladesh and thus expand the network. bKash has 30 million mobile money accounts, BRAC Bank has 1.5 million accounts and 186 branches for the customers to collect money from. This is in addition to the extensive network we already have in Bangladesh.

We do not want to stop there. There are plans of partnerships with more banks and mobile money networks to deepen our network. Just in terms of transaction volume, our business grew by 30%. We are optimistic that this will just continue to an upward trajectory in coming years.

You have partnered with two mobile financial services in Bangladesh. Where do you the market for mobile financial services for Bangladesh in the next 5 years? Where does WorldRemit fit in here?
WorldRemit has partnered with some of largest mobile money companies and the bKash partnership is one of the biggest MFS in the world. We have 160 million accounts we can send money to, which is greatly facilitated with having bKash on board. I expect this trend to grow. My hope is this will be one of the ways that officials will be targeting and meeting the needs of the unbanked population.

In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of running a money transfer company in Bangladesh?
I think it’s important to specify that we do not send money from Bangladesh; we only send money to Bangladesh. Bangladesh is predominantly a receiving market, and in order to send funds, you need a license from the central bank. We don’t have any immediate plans to secure the rights to be able to offer ‘send’ services.

The challenge in terms of operating a money transfer company in any country is to have a strong support network of partners. These challenges usually take place at the starting of any journey and the good news is we have been in the market since 2012 and so we have gotten over this hurdle. The final hurdle is brand awareness and we are trying to get the word about the new partnerships.

Bangladesh has a population of 160 million but the number of people with bank accounts is surprisingly low. What could be a possible reason behind this?
I think developing a network of financial institutions and expanding services aren’t a cheap affair. When you have a country with a large population which is quite spread out geographically, financial institutions need to make investments to ensure their physical presence to cater to this population. Banks are trying to do that by digitizing their experience.

What’s impressive is that there have been major efforts to bring the unbanked into the financial arena through bkash and other mobile money services. Hence we like to partner with both traditional and non-traditional pay-out partners to reach the unbanked population.

Why is it important for the country to move from offline to online money transfer?
This is simply to address issues of safety by monitoring transactions, convenience, and lower cost. This would also entail bringing the unbanked population to the financial arena.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Similarly, what is the most challenging part of it?
The most rewarding part of my job is growing our business. Our business is a startup and very soon we won’t be able to call ourselves that. I love building things from scratch and building things from startup to scale up and this is one of the main reasons why I joined WorldRemit. To see our business grow tangibly is very exciting. I have also had the opportunities to meet and travel to very exciting places.

Some of the obstacles we face while running a global business are that it challenges us from a personal and family standpoint. The trick is to get the balance right. So make sure you hire the right people and rely on them to be a dedicated part of your team.

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