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Bringing Banking To Immigrants & Unbanked, m-Via Rebrands As Boom Financial, Closes On $17 Million In Funding

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Global mobile money transfer service m-Via is officially rebranding as Boom Financial today as it announces the close of a $17 million round of funding, led by mobile operator Digicel Group Ltd. The carrier stretches across 31 markets, including the Caribbean, Central America and South Pacific – all geographies Boom Financial aims to target with its service, which provides immigrants and the unbanked with a way to transfer money internationally. Also participating in the round were previous investors RRE Ventures and MATT.org. The new round brings the company to over $30 million in total funding to date.

m-Via, now Boom, has been working on a way to eliminate a need for cash wire transfer services by providing an alternative means to send money across borders using just a text message. Under its umbrella, m-Via developed two products, a consumer-facing service for sending money via mobile (get it? m-Via?) and a mobile money network called Axon, which is designed as an enterprise solution for banks, wireless companies and others.

Currently, U.S. customers can pick up a Boom kit at a local store (some 7-Elevens in California have them, according to the company’s website, but the company reports there are 15,000 locations available), register their account by calling a number, and can then load their provided prepaid card with money at participating retailers or via an ATM. The card is used for withdrawals, too. Boom says it now has over 100,000 supported ATMs in over 150 countries. Once their account has been funded, they can send the money elsewhere, including domestically, by texting SEND <amount> <mobile number or nickname>. 

At present, the service is available in the U.S. and users can send funds anywhere Boom supports, like Mexico or Haiti.

With the additional investment, the plan is to extend the mobile banking ecosystem in the Caribbean and Central American regions, where Digicel’s customers receive more than $5 billion per year in cash remittances from the U.S. Specifically, Boom CEO Bill Barhydt identified Haiti and Jamaica as key markets for the service.The funding will also be used to beef up the sales channels in these regions, as well as the U.S. and elsewhere in Latin America.

Barhydt said that by working with Digicel, “we will be able to quickly extend our reach and Boom’s brand awareness into these territories. In addition to Digicel’s significant footprint in these territories, they also have a strong business selling airtime via U.S. retailers where consumers buy airtime for their families back home,” he adds. “It is Boom’s intent to sell their services through these same Digicel retail channels in the U.S.”

Founded in 2008, Boom Financial is headquartered in Palo Alto, and also has offices in Pasadena and Mexico City. It’s a team of 30, and that’s expected to double over the course of the year.