Media & Entertainment

Android Pay now used for international P2P transfers, courtesy of WorldRemit


Image Credits: WorldRemit (opens in a new window) / Flickr (opens in a new window) under a CC BY-SA 2.0 (opens in a new window) license.

AndroidPay, Google’s wallet for Android devices, is getting a boost in its global profile and functionality today: WorldRemit, the $500 million remittance startup connected to around 120 million mobile money accounts globally, which lets residents in one country transfer money to family and friends in another, has announced that it will now let people make transfers using Google’s mobile wallet.

Android Pay will be used for paying into the app; those receiving the money can specify any mobile bank account to collect the transferred funds.

This is a first for Android Pay, which up to now has been used for in-app and contactless payments and to make P2P transfers to people in the same country, but never international P2P money transfers.

Google has seen some interesting recent milestones since launching Android Pay in 2015, including a recent partnership with PayPal, integrating it with Facebook’s Messenger for group payments, and an expanded payment API to boost ubiquity for Android Pay across many more apps and transactional scenarios.

Android Pay today has around 25 million users across 15 countries, according to recent Juniper Research estimates, and linking up with WorldRemit (and eventually other remittance companies, as this is not an exclusive deal) could give usage of the wallet a boost, both in terms of user numbers and also transactions.

Remittances were a $442 billion market in 2016, according to World Bank estimates. Only a small part of that runs through new apps like WorldRemit’s and gets terminated in mobile wallets: a significant proportion still runs on legacy rails from the likes of Western Union and MoneyGram, and terminates (that is, the money gets picked up) at physical stores.

But with the explosive growth of smartphones, we’ve seen a corresponding boom in smartphone-based services.

Taking the area of money management, there are still 2 billion people in the developing world who are “unbanked” — that is, without traditional bank accounts — but about half a billion are already using their mobiles as bank accounts (essentially, paying money into and out of their mobile voice and data accounts). So unsurprisingly, remittance companies have spotted an opportunity to move some of the huge market for remittances to mobile.

A large proportion of WorldRemit’s users are in developing markets, and about 60 percent of its customers are using Android devices, and the company already claims a 74 percent market share of all international remittances going into mobile money accounts, so adding Google’s payment platform was a logical first move when adding the first mobile wallet to its service.

“Mobile money is our fastest growing channel,” said Ismail Ahmed, WorldRemit’s CEO in an interview. He also notes that it’s working on adding others like Apple Pay, too.

“We are planning to add Apple Pay as the US becomes a bigger part of our business,” he said in an interview. The company secured its US license in 2014, “and it’s our fastest growing send market today, so yes, Apple Pay is important but clearly android is the bigger market for us right now.” If this catches on, it could see some consolidation of another form: today WorldRemit works with around 30 mobile money services, but there are at least another 260 in use in the market today.

For Google, this could be a way to tap more people who are already Android users but have yet to make the move to activate and use Android Pay.

“We want to make it easier for organisations like WorldRemit to offer a simpler, faster in-app payment solution for their customers,” said Pali Bhat, Director, Product Management at Google, in a statement. “With Android Pay, people will be able to speed through checkout with their Android phones in a few clicks.”

The promise of using mobile wallets, Ahmed pointed out, was that they simplify and secure the process of uploading and storing payment details. Users of the WorldRemit app would not need to use a separate app for each payment, or be taken to any verification pages — two steps that often see huge drop off in transactions.

“Anything that can help and reduce the friction is great,” he added. Transaction fees, he said, are similar to those that WorldRemit pays other payment providers today, which depends on size and volume of transfers but averages at less than five percent.

Google’s new role in international remittances comes at an interesting time for the big tech giants and how they have tackled the opportunity to do more business in emerging markets. Remittances has been one area that has been targeted because money transfers has one of the key uses for mobile phones in the developing world.

Recall that Facebook — owner of Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram — had at one point even considered buying a remittance startup, which should come as no surprise, since one big opportunity for messaging app owners to monetize their apps is to enable payments between people across different countries, who are already using those messaging apps to communicate cheaply with each other.

In the end, it looks like a lot of those app owners are more likely, at least in the first instance, to partner with third parties — although that, too, has had its hiccups.

“Part of the reasoning is the complexity of regulations,” Ahmed said. “Consumers are concerned with who is doing the actual transactions, and it is about getting the balance right. Historically, we had a model where someone would say ‘powered by’ but a lot of regulators in developing markets are not happy with that because then no one understands who is running this, if you have a problem.”

But, he continued, “It will be fixed eventually. There is going to be a convergence of messaging and payments, and we are talking to all the leading messaging apps.”

From what we understand, WorldRemit, which has raised just under $148 million in funding from backers that include Accel and TCV, could be raising another round to fuel that next level of growth.

More TechCrunch

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

1 day ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

1 day ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI