MANILA, PHILIPPINES — No other country in the world is more familiar—or more dependent–with money remittance services than the Philippines. With more than 10 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) stationed across the globe, the influx of foreign currency accounts for 9.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and peaks during the Christmas holiday season.
“Close to US$30 billion in remittances flowed into the Philippines in 2016 according to the World Bank. With such robust activity coupled with consistent growth year-on-year, it makes perfect sense for Remitly to bolster operations here,” said Karim Meghji, Remitly global chief product officer .
Remitly’s Philippine office is composed mainly of Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). However, the company is working to hire software engineers in the country to help improve its products and services.
Fresh from raising $115 million in Series D Funding, Meghji said that Remitly is looking at adopting new technologies and to make Remitly the service of choice for millions of Filipinos across the world.
Just recently the company created a service that enabled Filipino seafarers to send money without leaving the ship. The service saves workers up to 8% in remittance fees and precious time spent waiting in long lines at port. The company even enables its own employees to help Filipino students pay for their education costs under the Remitly Scholars Program (RSP). In just 3 years, over $150,000 (about P7.65M) has been sent to scholars such as Jomyka, a BS in Mining Engineering at the University of the Philippines.
“We’re always on the lookout for new trends and how we could use these to improve our product to give customers the best experience possible.” said Meghji.
This could include digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Etherium whose adoptions are growing exponentially online. Similar to traditional currencies, “cryptocurrencies” as they are called can be used in exchange for goods and services. Being fully digital, however, cryptocurrencies are not bound by central banks and international borders, which means they are not regulated by a single government or entity.
According to Remitly, today there is less chatter about Bitcoin as a payment system within the tech world than there was just a few years ago. People used to think Bitcoin would totally transform payments, but the industry is realizing it’s not that easy. When Remitly was raising its Series A round of fundraising, a few Venture Capitalists (VCs) thought the company was “crazy” for not using Bitcoin, but things have evolved since then. A number of Bitcoin remittance companies have pivoted/shut down, and more people looked at Bitcoin more as a store of value rather than a viable payment system to send money internationally.