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Online-Remittances

The World Bank estimates that by 2016 there will be more than $700 billion sent overseas between family and friends, with $646 billion sent in 2015.

Read our full research “Money of the Future”. Download PDF (20MB)

“Remittances are now nearly three times the size of official development assistance and larger than private debt and portfolio equity flows to developing countries,” the World Bank writes. “They exceed the foreign exchange reserves in at least 14 developing countries, and are equivalent to least half of the level of reserves in more than over 26 developing countries.”

Startups that help people send money to each other or pay for goods and services online have been growing like weeds, fuelled by consumer demand, increasingly ubiquitous connected devices to make and receive the funds, and VCs eager to profit from their growth. The entire banking industry can be disrupted for the better and bricks and mortar banks are “heading for tough times”, according to Taavet Hinrikus, founder and executive chairman of TransferWise. “Every vertical in banking is a huge opportunity”. “As a consumer, I’m definitely waiting for what’s going to come after banks.”

Previously Skype’s first employee, Hinrikus looks to Skype as an example of the disruption technology can bring. In a decade the firm, now owned by Microsoft, has snared 40 percent of the global market in international calling — and Hinrikus believes similar success stories will soon be found in fintech. While consumers “don’t really care about fintech” – or even know what it is – Hinrikus believes disrupting the industry will be about making services more user-centric.

Now that many people are using peer-to-peer payment services, providers are eager to monetize them. Lose your luggage on a flight from San Francisco to New York City? No problem. You’ll be reimbursed, says insurance giant Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. Normally you’d have to wait months for a check to arrive through the mail. Now claims for money for extra clothes, toothpaste, and shoes can be deposited in your bank account before you leave baggage claim. Peer-to-peer payments technology, which enables people to send money to each other in minutes using a mobile application, is growing in popularity as a tool for businesses to reimburse consumers.

Forrester Research estimates that the total P2P payments market will reach $17 billion in transaction volume by 2019. Facebook, Snapchat, Square, and PayPal-owned Venmo – all offer peer-to-peer payment services to consumers. But none of them generate much revenue. Preferring adoption to profits, providers have resisted charging people fees to send money to each other.

But sending money to and from a business? That’s a different story. Charging fees to corporate customers will enable P2P payment providers to make money off the billions of dollars moving through their networks and subsidize consumer-to-consumer activity. “This has the ability to change the dynamic between a business and a consumer,” says Barbara King, head of global personal payments at MasterCard. “It’s resetting expectations around how people get paid.”

MasterCard doesn’t offer a consumer P2P payment service, but it is selling the technology to businesses. It’s charging customers like Berkshire Hathaway and FreeShipping.com an undisclosed fee to add peer-to-peer payments to their own businesses. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s Dean Sivley said those fees cost the company less money than printing out and mailing checks or wiring money. The insurer developed a mobile app based on MasterCard’s tech to enable its policyholders to submit a claim and receive a decision and payment in minutes. Rival Allstate offers a similar service powered by ClearXchange, which is co-owned by Bank of America, Capital One, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Venmo (part of PayPal now)

For some merchants, peer-to-peer payment technology offers more than speed. Venmo, which is popular among millennials, will soon enable its millions of users to pay for items like food and transportation using its app. “Merchants are very excited about this because Venmo users post their transactions to their friends in the app, so it’s essentially a form of social advertising,” said Joanna Lambert, PayPal’s vice president of consumer product and engineering.

Businesses that accept Venmo will be charged fees similar to those of PayPal merchants: 2.9% of each transaction plus a 30¢ charge. The revenue potential is sizable: Venmo processed $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2015. (People sent $1.6B over Venmo only in Q2 2015 – more than double this time last year.)

In July 2015 PayPal and Xoom, a digital money transfer provider, announced a definitive agreement under which PayPal acquired Xoom for $25 per share in cash or an approximate $890 million enterprise value. The transaction represents a premium of 32% over Xoom’s three-month volume-weighted average price. Xoom is a leader in international remittances enabling customers in the United States to send money to, and pay bills for, family and friends around the world in a secure, fast and cost-effective way, using their mobile phones, tablets or computers.

WorldRemit

In February 2015 WorldRemit, a UK-based startup raised another $100 million — funding that it will use to continue building out its service globally, and specifically in the U.S., where it has laid down roots in Denver. The funding comes from new investor Technology Crossover Ventures — the firm behind mammoth investments in Vice, Spotify, Minted, Swagbucks and in earlier days Facebook, ExactTarget and many more — and existing investor Accel.

This is only the second time that WorldRemit, founded in 2010, has raised money: the first time was in March 2014, when Accel put $40 million into the company. This latest round values WorldRemit north of $500 million.

Interestingly, the U.S. is the biggest market for sending money today — which is one reason why WorldRemit is doubling down on its presence there. Some 10% of global remittances originate in the U.S., working out to $50 million per year. Saudi Arabia comes in second place after that.

WorldRemit positions itself as a disruptive force in this context: it lets users transfer money at far lower commissions than those charged by larger outfits like Western Union, and it does so using online and mobile technology. But it’s still very early days in online money transfer: only about 5% of remittances are sent online today.

Today, WorldRemit lets users in 50 countries send money, and people in 117 countries receive it, giving senders the option to pay into bank accounts, cash pick-up points, or into mobile wallets that can be used for airtime top-ups. Airtime top-ups are especially popular: they currently account for half of all of WorldRemit’s business in Africa.

The last of these — mobile wallets — looks like it will be WorldRemit’s growth engine in future years, through partnerships with telecoms carriers. Carriers play a role in offering mobile wallets to mobile phone users who may not have regular bank accounts. One recent deal, with African carrier MTN, covers 22.5 million users in 16 countries across the continent. In contrast, cash pickups, which were 100% of WorldRemit’s business when it first started, now account for only 30% of its terminations.

Alix Murphy, Senior Mobile Analyst at WorldRemit, said:

“The rapid international expansion of Mobile Money services in 2015 demonstrates the increasingly crucial role that these services are playing in cross-border remittances. By connecting directly to mobile wallets, we are making sending money as easy as sending an instant message.

Many of our Mobile Money partners are thinking creatively about building a broad ecosystem of Mobile Money as a local payments platform. Cash is increasingly becoming obsolete as emerging markets sprint ahead in the adoption of mobile payments.”

In addition to offering airtime topup, bank deposit and cash pick-up options, WorldRemit is the leading provider of instant transfers to Mobile Money wallets. Meanwhile, 100,000 transfers on WorldRemit are sent to Mobile Money accounts every month, equivalent to 25% of all money transfers. However, more than 50% of all transfers to Africa are currently received as Mobile Money. Accordingly, 90 million individual Mobile Money accounts can be reached as part of WorldRemit’s network of partnerships with leading Mobile Money providers like MTN, Tigo, or Econet.

WorldRemit currently employs 230 people worldwide[7]. WorldRemit says it had revenue of £27 million in 2015, up from £15 million in 2014. The company made a loss of £10 million in 2014, the most recent period accounts are available for.
Transferwise

One of the UK’s fastest-growing financial technology companies is close to securing a new round of funding valuing it at more than $1bn – Transferwise is finalising commitments from a group of investors said to include Baillie Gifford, the asset management firm. At least one sovereign wealth fund is also understood to have been in discussions about backing the money transfer service, with a funding tranche of more than $70m expected to be completed.

TransferWise, the company he founded in London in 2011, is now worth more than $1bn (£649m) and already has a two percent market share in the UK. The company works by avoiding foreign exchange fees, making international money transfers less expensive. TransferWise is currently handling more than £500m a month, saving customers £22m in fees per month.

In January 2015 TransferWise raised a further $58 million led by Andreessen Horowitz has made good on its promise to cross the pond with a full U.S. launch. TransferWise has raised $91 million to date. The company, which also counts Sir Richard Branson, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Index Ventures, IA Ventures, and Seedcamp as backers, was widely expected to begin offering currency exchange from U.S. dollar to any number of its supported 300 or so (largely European) currencies, after it announced the imminent opening of a New York office, which had happened.

It already offered one-way transfer, from Europe to the U.S., a half way measure before it presumably had the regulatory clearance and money lanes in place needed to provide the “full TransferWise experience”.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with TransferWise’s proposition, by employing what it calls a P2P model, whereby consumers money exchange needs are matched so that money doesn’t leave each country unnecessarily, it is able to undercut the banks and other legacy competitors, such as Western Union, when sending money abroad.

On the U.S. launch, Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise, said in a statement: “Launching in the U.S. is a massive milestone for us. We’re setting out to change the way people send money around the world, and having an office and a presence in the States is an important part of that mission. Expats in the U.S. will no longer have to pay extortionate and unfair bank fees for international money transfers.”
It says that some £3 billion ($4.5 billion) has been transferred on its platform, with cost savings of more than £135 million compared to traditional bank transfers. As a point of comparison, it was only last spring that the startup said it had passed the £1 billion transfer mark.

Azimo

In June 2015 Azimo, a mobile money transfer startup out of London that was once feted by Facebook, jumped into the funding ring with a $20 million raise. CEO and co-founder Michael Kent says the company will use the investment to continue to build out its operations across Europe and deeper into the community of migrants who already form the bedrock of its services.

While Azimo — which was founded in 2012 and covers 200 countries and 80 different currencies –is not disclosing its valuation, we have confirmed with reliable sources that it is just under $100 million. The Series B round was led by Frog Capital, with participation from MCI Management and existing investors e.ventures and Greycroft Partners. It brings the total raised by Azimo to $31 million.

Kent says that part of what sets Azimo apart from these others is less its size but the fact that for now it’s focused mainly on growing its business in Europe and specifically among a demographic that is often neglected by tech services: individuals who are often migrants who may earn less than the average income, and who regularly send a portion of that income far back home to family, with Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and parts of Asia “all popular corridors for us.”

“We run up against a lot of patronizing people when it comes to migrant workiers,” he says. “People assume they wouldn’t use Skype or social networks or smartphones. But in fact we found that Eastern Europeans, Filipinos, and others massively over-indexed on services like VoIP and social networking, so in fact it completely makes sense to sell them digital remittance apps. Rather than requiring them to walk into a Western Union and pay more, you could take the stuff they were using already for other reasons to deliver a cheaper and more cost effective service.” Facebook-based  transfers constitutes around 25 percent of all transactions these days, he adds.

Apart from its own organic growth, another reason why Azimo is worth watching is because it has built its business out precisely on the platform — mobile — and in the markets — emerging — where much larger tech companies are also setting their sites.

Kent would not comment directly about what happened with Facebook, but at a time before the social network had launched its own money transfer operations, and it was already honing in on how it would expand in emerging markets, we heard through sources that the social network had been looking to make an acquisition of all or part of Azimo, because while photo sharing may be a killer app in the West, sending money is where it’s at in these other economies.

“If you are trying to get the next two billion users, it’s going to be in the developing world, and there the ability to move funds around is more important than sharing pictures of cats,” he said. “And the thing about us is that this is what we do in the developing world.”

In September 2015 Azimo announced a partnership with Singaporean-based company TransferTo that will allow Azimo customers to send airtime top-ups to prepaid mobile phone owners in over 100 countries. Sending mobile minutes gives Azimo users an additional option to financially support their friends and family members across borders. Mobile airtime transfers are growing in popularity. In many developing countries, it’s more likely for an individual to have a mobile phone than a bank account or credit card. By providing airtime, Azimo users are giving individuals in these regions access to a crucial form of currency.
CurrencyCloud
Currency Cloud, a UK-based provider of cross-border money transferring services that are in turn used by a number of money transfer and payments businesses, has landed an $18 million round of funding. Currency Cloud is not disclosing the company’s valuation.

The Series C round — which brings the total raised by the company since 2012 to $36 million. Sapphire Ventures — the now-independent venture arm of SAP — led the round with participation also from Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten. Currency Cloud’s existing investors, which include Anthemis, Atlas Ventures, Notion Capital and XAnge Private Equity also participated.

Sapphire and Rakuten are very much strategic investors in this round. Currency Cloud will work with SAP to offer its services in conjunction with those of SAP and specifically to SAP’s business customer base. Rakuten, meanwhile, is making the investment via its FinTech Fund. While those of us outside of Japan mainly know Rakuten for its e-commerce efforts, in Japan the company also offers financial services, and Currency Cloud will be leveraging that when it expands to Asia, likely next year, CEO Mike Laven told.

The company’s main technology and product is called Payment Engine, and by way of an API, this sits as the essential engine behind a number of other services such as Azimo, TransferWise and xe.com and many others, over 125 in total, who have built businesses around the idea of moving money internationally. More than 150 companies use Currency Cloud and they in turn have a total of more than 500,000 end users. Companies that have linked to the Currency Cloud API include MANGOPAY, WeSwap and WorldRemit.

The typical competitor to Currency Cloud is a bank, which will charge more money for similar transfer services, and will often take longer to process them, and the idea of integrating those services by way of an API is virtually impossible because banks typically don’t open up their systems in this way (they are, in a sense, not unlike old school telecoms carriers who suffered the same issue and arguably lost out on potentially interesting data service development).

The company processes $10 billion in payments each year covering some 40 different currencies in 212 countries. Laven says that by the end of 2015, the company will be processing $1 billion per month in transactions. Those transactions, meanwhile, tend to be for around $15,000-$20,000, with “many” extending to $1 million. Currency Cloud, he adds, typically runs its business on “ten percent to twenty percent basis points” — meaning this is the cut that it takes on those transfers.

He adds that most immediately, the funding will go towards Currency Cloud’s ongoing ambition to expand deeper into the U.S. market. Last year, when the company raised $10 million, it opened an office in New York. Now it will be putting more money into building out that business further.

“We double every year and we have brought out our next generation of software. We are core to the whole digital upgrade of the financial world. Our volumes grew by over 100 percent, customers over 100 percent, employees by 50 percent. As you walk around the office you can see there is nowhere to sit any more.

CurrencyFair

In April 2015 CurrencyFair raised a further €10 million. The round was led by Octopus Investments, with participation from previous backer Frontline Ventures. The Dublin-headquartered startup says it will use the additional capital to take advantage of the growing market for so-called peer-to-peer currency transfer — as a plethora of startups use technology and lower margins to offer an alternative to the banks and legacy FX exchange companies, such as Western Union et al. — and to expand the number of currency corridors it’s able to offer.

CurrencyFair currently focuses on money transfers between the U.K., Europe and Asia-Pacific.
In a statement, CurrencyFair CEO Brett Meyers said: “The money transfer sector has seen a lot of attention recently, with customers beginning to realise the high fees charged by banks when sending money internationally. These customers, made up of an internationally mobile workforce, retirees and foreign property owners, are regularly sending £2,000 or more in the form of pay, pensions, mortgages and rents. For these people we are a great match as we are virtually unbeatable over £2,000, sometimes even beating the interbank rate, which banks, brokers and other transfer services can’t do.”

In September 2015 CurrencyFair unveiled a new peer to peer currency exchange app. The app, which is available for iOS and Android, allows users of its currency exchange service to conduct transactions on their smartphones.

“We’ve spent considerable time building the world’s first truly peer-to-peer currency exchange marketplace so that we have critical mass to release our app,” said CurrencyFair founder and CEO Brett Meyers. “The app will maintain the usability and security of our desktop and mobile responsive site that has seen our users transfer nearly £2 billion to date.”

The company was recently named the cheapest service for transferring money abroad by Which? magazine, which looked at the cost of transferring £10,000 (€13,141) to a euro account abroad and moving £1,000 into US dollars. Founder Brett Meyers said the firm is planning to push ahead with business services in the coming weeks, promoting its priority transfer service that will allow businesses to move money more quickly.

Remitly

In July 2015 Seattle-based mobile remittance app Remitly — which lets people in the U.S. send money to India or the Philippines — has acquired Talio, a picture messaging app. Talio will continue to run its existing app for the time being, but it sounds like over time certain features will simply be folded into a new Remitly app.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but the acquisition includes the hiring of all of Talio’s staff, including founders Piragash Velummylum and Jordan Timmermann, and its technology. It sounds like at least part of the acquisition was made in shares: with the deal, Remitly will gain a number of Talio’s investors, too. Talio, which originally launched in 2013 as Wire, had raised $2.3 million.

While Remitly and Talio were in different app categories — respectively finance and messaging — they have something in common, besides both being based in Seattle. Both messaging and remittance services are overcrowded with competition, and with the economics of both favoring scale, there’s already been a fair amount of consolidation in both categories.

The company announced its customers are on pace to transfer $1 billion annually based on the rate of transfers in December. This represents an increase of more than 400 percent from January 2015. This milestone comes amidst rapid growth for the mobile remittance company and surging demand for money transfers globally.


The World Bank projects that remittances will reach more than $588 billion in 2015, with 74 percent of these remittances going to developing countries. Remitly offers money transfers from the United States to the Philippines, India and Mexico, which alone account for more than 35 percent of all remittances originating in the United States.


 

The company will continue to take a customer-focused approach by focusing on the largest markets as it expands globally. Remitly’s fast, mobile-first money transfer service is disrupting the historically slow and fee-ridden process. On average, companies charge 8 percent in money transfer fees; Remitly charges a small fraction of that, a huge savings for customers worldwide.

New competitors

In July 2015 British startup Revolut just raised $2.3M (£1.5M) from Balderton Capital to make you pay less exchange fees when you travel around the world.

Also backed by Seedcamp, Revolut provides an app to seamlessly exchange or send money, and an optional debit card to pay around the world or online.

Creating a Revolut account is basically like creating a virtual bank accounts in 3 different currencies, USD, EUR and GBP. You can top up your account in any of these currencies using your credit or debit card, or a bank transfer.

Step by step, Lydia is unveiling its product strategy to handle all your payments. The French startup was still mostly focused on growing its user base by providing a Venmo alternative for French users.

But now, Lydia also lets you pay on e-commerce websites, starting with PriceMinister. The app is now also available on the Apple Watch so that you can just tap on your watch notification to order something online.

In the same time Singapore-based fin-tech startup Toast raised a US$750,000 seed round. Toast wants to make sending money “take less time than it takes to make a piece of toast”, and also wants it to be used as a verb: “Toast me!” Its main target market is Singapore’s large population of migrant workers who regularly send money back home to countries like the Philippines in the form of remittances.

Like most new fin-tech startups offering remittance services in the region — including competitors such as Hong Kong’s Bitspark, the Philippines’ Coins.ph, and Singapore’s CoinPip— the underlying technology powering it is the Blockchain. India’s P2P mobile payments startup Momoe Technologies that allows users pay and split restaurant bills with friends has raised $1,2M in funding. Mobile wallet Xendit targets Indonesia’s P2P payment market. Currently in beta, the launched version will allow users to connect their debit cards, send funds to friends and withdraw wallet funds to a bank accounts. Although BlackBerry Money hasn’t gained any traction in Indonesia, it hasn’t stopped other startups from aiming at the peer-to-peer payment segment with mobile based solutions.

Philippine fintech-company Ayannah raised $3 million in its Series A round led by 500 Startups and Singapore-based venture capital firm Life.SREDA, taking the total funding the company has raise to over the $8 million mark.

Ayannah founder and CEO Mikko Perez told in an interview, that Ayannah in the past has raised up to $5.3 million funds from Wavemaker Partners, the regional representative of the Draper Venture Network, also Golden Gate Ventures, IMJ Investment Partners, Beenos, GREE Ventures, family offices and angel investors. “We will likely need to raise a Series B round,” Perez said. In the Philippines, digital commerce and payment startup Ayannah offers a host of digital financial services that focus on serving the needs of the 100 million resident Filipinos as well as the 12 million overseas Filipinos around the world.

Ayannah has launched and operates two main platforms – Sendah and Sendah Direct. Ayannah’s Sendah Remit is a bank-grade SaaS that will allow domestic cash remittance or ‘Cash Pick Up Anywhere’ as well as remittance into any domestic bank account.

Sendah Remit is partnering with traditional remittance companies such as Western Union, MoneyGram and Transfast, new online remittance companies such as Xoom and World Remit, emerging Bitcoin-based remittance companies such as Abra, Coins.PH and Rebit.PH and leading domestic remittance companies such as Cebuana Lhuillier, LBC and Tambunting, with a grand plan to build the largest digital payment network in the Philippines.

Although the company has reached 7,000 point of sale, Perez wasn’t sure if Ayannah has outpointed Western Union in terms of network size. “I think [Western Union] still has an extensive network in the Philippines,” Perez said. “We don’t consider WU as competition.” Ayannah announced last October that they will aim to offer a full stack of digital payment platform from payments, commerce, analytics, to spur financial inclusion in emerging markets like the Philippines.

He noted, however, that Ayannah have tie-ups with banks and big retailers and will make several announcements in the first quarter of 2016. In the next two years, Ayannah aims to grow the largest digital payment network in the Philippines and achieve a 15 per cent market share of the domestic remittance market in the Philippines. It also plans to launch its services in Singapore, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the US.
Blockchain-based remittances

In September 2015 Dwolla announced a new white label service that lets some of its biggest customers build their own real-time payments systems. But with $1 billion in transaction volume last year, Dwolla founder and CEO Ben Milne says moving dollars is just the beginning. “The other forms of assets are just things to record in the system and so it seems like an eventual inevitability,” Milne said during an interview at our Manhattan offices on Monday. “It’s just a question of which asset is next, and why?”

That makes Milne among a small contingent of imaginative entrepreneurs rethinking the technology that speeds along Wall Street transactions of a wide-range of assets, from living wills to private securities. But what sets the the Des Moines, Iowa-based Dwolla apart is that Milne’s company is doing so without the technology behind bitcoin, called the blockchain.

At the head of the pack of payments infrastructure disruptors using blockchain are three companies: Symbiont, creating smart, or self-executing securities; T0, which will soon make its “crypto-bonds” available via Bloomberg terminals; and Digital Asset Holdings, which is building blockchain securities on both the bitcoin blockchain and alternative decentralized ledgers.

“Ultimately, all these things are complimentary,” said Milne. “We’re all working towards solutions to similar problems, which is we think that systems should be faster, they should have less risk, and we should all have an easier system to use.”

He wouldn’t say much about which asset might be next on the company’s agenda. But he did say that the decision would “probably be driven by financial institutions who are utilizing the network.” In addition to an eventual expansion to other assets Milne has his sites set on business in other countries, and transactions in other currencies. Founded in 2008, Dwolla is a veteran among the payments infrastructure disruptors. But that doesn’t mean Milne thinks we should expect to see a consolidation of the industry for quite some time.

Until August 2015, Earthport has offered two options for moving money on their rails: fast and very fast. The fast option works through what is essentially Earthport’s global ACH network and takes about a day for funds to clear. The faster option connects to the various “faster payments” schemes around the world and can even enable transactions in an hour.

But through a partnership with Ripple Labs, Earthport can do that one better: It can now enable payments between global trading partners in real time. Ripple Labs is the creator and controller of the Ripple protocol, an open source distributed ledger or blockchain application that allows for the exchange of value in real time. Different from bitcoin, Ripple functions as a payment network (that supports a variety of currency exchanges), whereas bitcoin is designed to function as both a currency and a payment network and a currency.

Stefan Thomas, chief technology officer of Ripple Labs, wants to build something he calls the “internet of value”. “By value we’re talking about money but were also talking about stocks and bonds… intellectual property… anything you can think of that might have value,” he told. When the web was first created, he says. “You were asking servers to do stuff on your behalf”. The server has to do that thing you asked of it, but the server won’t do it for free At the time they imagined in the future there would be an extension into http that would facilitate these payments – make them smooth.. “We believe this point in the future has finally come,”

Commonwealth Bank is the first large commercial bank in the world, that made strategic alliance with digital currency network Ripple. This provides a wide rage of new opportunities for CommBank. For instance it may become a gateway to foreign exchange markets and such rare currencies as the Indonesian rupiah and the Vietnamese dong. Another bank – from Shanghai – recently announced its partnership with Ripple. Thus they’re planning to attract global fintech entrepreneurs. Besides that there were news about two other banks out the big four that are currently experimenting with the shared public ledger. ANZ has just created a team for studying Ripple’s abilities. While Westpac is already testing the blockchain by making transfers between two overseas branches. Ripple now also used by German Fidor bank and several US banks.

Chris Larsen is CEO and Co-founder of Ripple Labs, creators of Ripple, an open-source, distributed payment protocol. Mr. Larsen also cofounded and served as CEO of Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending marketplace, and E-LOAN, a publicly traded online lender. During his tenure at E-LOAN, he pioneered the open access to credit scores movement by making E-LOAN the first company to show consumers their FICO scores. Also Ripple Labs hired long-time Yahoo executive and former Hightail CEO Brad Garlinghouse as its COO. Garlinghouse joined Ripple Labs as it hits around 100 employees, which is when startups typically bring in experienced executives to help spur growth.

In January 2015 Ripple Labs raised $30M from IDG Capital Partners, Google Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz. The deal valued Ripple at $100M.

Remittances – sending cash overseas – has always been bitcoin‘s killer app. The guys at Robocoin made it more killer. Their new product, called Romit, is basically a way to send cash through a Robocoin ATM to another ATM or merchant account at fees far lower than other remittance providers. Robocoin runs 20 ATMs around the world including systems in Hong Kong, Romania, Italy, and the United States (including Vegas). To send money you simply slide it into your local ATM and enter the recipient’s phone number. The recipient can then pick it up at a nearby ATM or merchant.

US startup Abra launched its mobile app for remittances (available on iPhone and Android), which bypasses the middle men by using the blockchain and a network of “human ATMs”. According to the founders: “Abra merges money transfer and payments via a single digital cash wallet that works ubiquitously anywhere in the world. There is no bank or other third party involved in managing, storing, remitting or accepting your money. Abra represents the next generation of digital cash applications but without the technical fuss”.

Life.SREDA VC is a global fintech-focused Venture Capital fund with HQ in Singapore

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