Azimo scores $15m from Rakuten for Asia push

There’s more good news for UK remittance firm Azimo this week as the company announces $15m in new funding in a round led by Japan’s Rakuten as it looks to carve off a bigger chunk of the $600 billion global remittance market.

The firm was recently named winner in the ‘Innovation in Money Transfer’ category in the Fintech Innovation Awards 2016 and has just rolled out a revamped new site and app. Azimo has now raised $40m in funding with previous investors including Greycroft and Frog Capital coming back for more in this latest round.


Azimo at a glance
> $40m raised in total VC funding
> Rakuten, eVentures, Frog Capital, Greycroft, Accion & MCI participated in new round
> Reportedly valued at $100m in previous funding
> Recievers can collect via bank transfer, cash, mobile wallet, text



Backing from Rakuten will help Azimo build up its presence in Asia, where the company already sends more than 30% of transfers that come through its platform, and is planning to open up a new office. Kent says they haven’t picked where yet and the team is in the process of talking to regulators in different regions.

Kent says the firm wants to take advantage of the high penetration of mobile devices and social messaging platforms in the region. Speaking to PaymentEye, co-founder Michael Kent says the firm wasn’t looking for more funding, but Rakuten offered a lot of unique opportunities as a partner and investor including the fact that it owns messaging giant Viber. While the promise of social media and mobile as channels for remittances is great, for now the reality is that the vast majority (around 90%) of remittance payments are not happening online. In Asia, around three quarters of Asian transactions are currently happening offline through banks and money transfer agents.

The point now is that it wants to be a better platform for sending money and this is where securing the right partnerships become crucial. Remittance, more than perhaps any other part of financial services, relies on a deep network of relationships and in the so-called Amazon of Japan, Azimo  has found a powerful new friend. A comparatively underserved market compared to say Europe or the US, he cites stats that Asia is homes to nearly 60m migrant workers, who sent nearly $300bn last year.

“While we weren’t actively looking for additional capital, the approach from Rakuten really appealed because of their presence in markets core to our long-term ambitions,” says Kent.

“They have a huge presence in Asia, they really understand consumer financial services and as owners of Viber, and are a significant player in the social messaging market. The partnership will accelerate our Asian expansion and assist in our aim of developing ever deeper social network integrations.”

Founded in 2012, Azimo now serves more than 190 countries in more than 80 currencies and says half a million people have connected to it platform.

“90% of flights weres till booked at travel agenst not that long ago,” says Kent. “Today not that many are. People don’t do things offline because they want to. Its like refilling for petrol. If you have the option to do it on social or mobile, why wouldn’t you?”

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