The Fintech Espresso Break Ep. 9 – Matt Oppenheimer, CEO and Co-Founding father of Remitly


Hello guys. Welcome to the Fintech Espresso Break. I’m your host Isabelle Castro. 

Immediately, my espresso break with Matt Oppenheimer, CEO and co-founder of Remitly.

matt oppenheimer
Matt Oppenheimer, CEO and co-founder of Remitly

Remitly has been a frontrunner within the disruption of the remittance market, an space integral to reaching the UN Sustainable Improvement Objectives, with at the least 80 international locations counting on remittance flows to offer 4% of their GDP.

The sector has been thought-about an space ripe for fintech disruption, nevertheless it’s nonetheless filled with sticking factors. Remitly addresses these points. 

I spoke with Matt concerning the market, the way it’s been affected by the latest macroeconomic local weather, and why there are nonetheless loads of areas fintech could make a distinction. 

Isabelle Castro – Hello, Matt. Good to have you ever on the present. 

Matt Oppenheimer – Thanks. Nice to see you as nicely. Thanks for having me.

Isabelle – Completely happy to have you ever on. So what will get you up within the morning?

Matt – What will get me up within the morning apart from my child?( Which is the true reply), I might say, for me, I’m a morning particular person. I rise up and train. I’m excited to start out the day. Function and affect could sound cliche, however that’s what actually will get me up within the morning and in addition retains my power excessive all through the day. Making an affect on our clients with our workforce with our traders. And that’s what retains me going.

Isabelle – Good. I like that. When did you determine that you simply wished to start out a enterprise like Remitly? And what led to that call?

Matt – Oh, good query. I come from a household of entrepreneurs. So I all the time knew that I wished to start out one thing. I really thought, earlier in life, I might begin with a nonprofit. While you have a look at enterprise colleges, a few of the essays that speak about what you need to do together with your profession. However I’ve all the time been drawn to the aim level of fixing issues that make a constructive affect on the earth. And so I knew I wished to start out one thing. I didn’t know if it’d be for-profit or nonprofit. And I took the highway much less traveled like I’ve traveled to actually, you already know, near 100 international locations. I’ve lived and labored on three continents. I made the contrarian or non-traditional determination to maneuver from One, Churchill place, in London, the place I used to be working with Barclays Financial institution, to Nairobi, Kenya, the place I used to be head of cellular and Web banking initiatives for Barclays Financial institution, Kenya – that was a non-traditional profession path.

However I had been to Africa a number of instances earlier than I used to be drawn to working there. And so I joined Barclays. And so it was the highway much less traveled in Nairobi that, you already know, I noticed how tough it was for me to ship cash out internationally. I used to be getting paid in kilos, dwelling in Kenyan shillings finally needed to give a refund in US {dollars}. However I noticed how quite a bit how far more vital and the way it’s equally if no more tough for lots of my Kenyan pals who relied on their family members for primary dwelling bills. That, mixed with M PESA, which was remodeling home monetary companies, this was 10-12 years in the past, felt like the appropriate time.

And when you have a look at simply the affect of remittances. $1.6 trillion that’s despatched yearly, like, if it takes us again at about $1.6 trillion, yearly, it’s simple to throw out these numbers. I’m gonna say yet another time- $1.6 trillion that’s despatched yearly. And it solves some large international issues by way of poverty and inequality. And then you definately lay round who our clients in the end are the senders of remittances, the sacrifices they make to have the ability to ship a refund residence to their households. And I used to be like, this can be a downside. And by way of how that cash is spent, how a lot it prices, how inconvenient it’s, it’s an issue that I wished to work on fixing for a giant portion of my life. And the remaining is historical past, so to talk.

Isabelle – Yeah. So okay. It was an issue then. Give me an summary of now. The place are we now with the remittance market?

Matt – So when you have a look at the development to not be too jargony, however the complete addressable market, that’s the $1.6 trillion that I discussed. That features each formal and casual. Formal remittances are like what the World Financial institution measures in formal although loads of people as a result of it’s been so costly and inconvenient. They only take a refund over the vacations after they’re visiting their household and need to cope with the effort of a bodily remittance location and the charges and inconvenience and belief parts that go along with that.

So we predict that as we construct extra digital options, a few of that casual will shift into formal.

Then when you additionally have a look at the serviceable addressable market, which is the place we’ve been centered initially, which is, because the World Financial institution calls it, remittances to low and middle-income international locations, that simply within the formal house is 600 over $600 billion. Once more, that’s despatched yearly, and so large alternative to enhance the world to construct a significant enterprise. And simply to place in perspective, Remitly is a bigger participant out there. As you, as your listeners have seen, we went public the 12 months earlier than final -I assume we’re in 2023. And we’ve acquired some thrilling scale and measurement but; we’re solely 2% of the general market. Two p.c of that $1.6 trillion, which is superb.

What’s thrilling, although, is- I discussed belief, there’s a pivot that’s taking place within the business round digital units being trusted for our clients to ship a refund to their family members. And so the speed and tempo of not solely remittances general, which have traditionally been very, very resilient, to financial, you already know, challenges, hardships, recessions, they’ve been extra resilient for causes I can speak about later if it’s useful. However along with that, there’s the aspect that this business is at a tipping level the place clients are saying, okay, you already know, what, I really do belief a digital system to have the ability to ship my hard-earned a refund residence. And so we’re grateful for this business shift and be main the best way in loads of methods.

Isabelle – I’m gonna come up, I’m gonna come again to that. However for now, have the latest macroeconomic components type of affected what’s happening, like, inflation and all that type of stuff?

Matt – Yeah, nicely, I believe traditionally, remittances, as I discussed, have been very resilient for 2 causes.

One, as a result of not like whether or not it’s luxurious items, or whether or not it’s just like the housing market, issues like that, when rates of interest rise, not like these areas that I believe there’s loads of shifts. remittances are despatched for like primary dwelling bills for emergency medical bills. And so it’s excessive on using funds for our clients, which suggests it’s extra resilient, even when clients are reducing again. And we’ve shared some in earlier earnings by way of our clients surveying their propensity to ship cash sooner or later could be very excessive.

The second is that our clients, along with that, are extremely resilient. And once I say that, I believe it’s a part of what defines the immigrant journey is the grit, tenacity, resilience, and dedication that our clients have with their households again residence. So even take like when COVID-19 occurred, loads of our clients or blue-collar staff may need labored in a restaurant that shut down. And but, what our clients did, and that is partially the international locations we serve proper now, it’d be totally different. If we have been within the Center East the place like, job flexibility is, is far tougher if somebody’s working in an oil subject in Saudi Arabia. However within the markets that we predominantly serve, there’s extra flexibility there relating to employment.

And so loads of our clients went from working in that restaurant to once more, I imply, the grit resilience willpower, given the significance of these funds to change into a DoorDash supply driver, you title it. And so it’s our clients which have this superb grit resilience and the significance of our service that creates much more resilience than loads of different industries. And I get up proper now, on daily basis, actually grateful for our clients due to that dynamic.

Isabelle – So there hasn’t been an excessive amount of of a type of fluctuation within the quantities that they’re sending, the type of frequency that they’re sending, no matter what’s happening. Right. Okay. And so, fintech on this, what function do you suppose it has to play in this type of time?

Matt – I believe that fintech is broad. It’s so broad, proper? So what I’m processing is like, you’ve acquired the whole lot from neobanks to remittances to lending to, like, so many alternative issues inside the borough, and also you’ve acquired B2B, you’ve acquired B2C. And so it’s onerous to discuss all of these together.

What I’ll say is I believe there’s a shift to digital that’s taking place. I believe that there are a bunch of prices that may be taken out of the system with a digital strategy. There’s an ease of use that’s unparalleled, like you concentrate on a Filipino American buyer utilizing our service and is sending a refund on, you already know, possibly already speaking with their family members on Friday evening, which is Saturday morning within the Philippines. And having the ability to ship that cash immediately from the consolation of their very own residence versus going to a bodily location like that ought to occur.

What’s held again, at the least within the shopper house, which is the place we function, is belief, proper? Like, it’s simple to say that, and it’s rational that clients ought to try this. But it surely’s additionally rational for purchasers to take a step again and say, ‘Properly, I do know that particular person with that bodily location if something occurred with like, you already know, our clients, a giant proportion of their hard-earned cash.

And so I believe that it’s belief that has traditionally held loads of clients again from making the appropriate rational determination as a result of they give thought to their id and what that’s going for use for it’s we’ve got to gather to confirm do KYC, which is Know your buyer, we’ve got to gather their fee info. And in contrast to lending or different fintech companies which are giving out cash, we’re asking clients to present us their cash basically and belief us to ship it again residence, oftentimes to be picked up in money, oftentimes tons of of or 1000s of miles away. And it’s additionally rational that that takes like a leap of religion and belief that this firm on-line goes to, like do what’s proper, from an integrity, safety, compliance perspective. And so long-winded method of claiming I believe the business goes by means of a shift proper now, whereas increasingly clients are utilizing digital units, that they’re then you already know, phrase of mouth model consciousness, referrals, issues like that, it begins to change into a flywheel.

I believe that there’s an thrilling time, at the least inside shopper remittances, for purchasers for our enterprise. It should range although, relying on the like slice of fintech, by way of, like, general business developments on fintech, so I’m hesitant to ramble about different areas that I that I do know final, however that’s what I can say for positive. And in our house.

Isabelle – Okay, that’s good. You stated that it’s going by means of a shift. How lengthy is that this shift been happening? As a result of for instance, there was an IMF report in December final 12 months that concluded that the hyped disruption of the remittance market hasn’t but occurred. So how lengthy? I assume that digital, the shift to digital, is a giant a part of that. The place do you see this? What’s your opinion on that report? 

Matt – Yeah, I believe I believe that the report that I believe you’re referring to, I believe it talked, it talked fairly a bit about, initially, how crypto and a few of these disruptive applied sciences, I’ll come again to the phrase disruption, however a few of these disruptive applied sciences. I believe there was some hype, and I believe the report is definitely completely proper, because it pertains to a few of the hype and in these areas.

And once I say hype, I imply, what’s the precise buyer affect. From a price perspective, but additionally from like a buyer expertise, reliability, belief standpoint, peace of thoughts, we speak quite a bit about for our clients. And so I agreed with the report’s conclusions on a few of the hype associated to a few of the crypto and blockchain options, though we nonetheless, you already know, pay loads of consideration to that to verify we see round corners.

I believe that because it pertains to remittances which are non-crypto or blockchain-based, I believe that the business is at a tipping level. It’s taken longer than I believe some people would have imagined. As a result of once more, that belief aspect, even when one thing was, like, rationally good for a buyer to do, it’s additionally rational to have that concern that I discussed.

And so it takes time, it takes a bit of bit longer than like a Blockbuster vs Netflix kind, you already know, story. However I believe that Netflix disrupting blockbuster, clearly, however I believe that the long run, in some methods is inevitable, like, why would a buyer not do what I used to be speaking about with, you already know, that Philippine buyer on Friday evening, sending a refund. Particularly if you begin to suppose by means of the structural prices have been taken out of the system by way of not having to pay that bodily agent, particularly when you concentrate on the reliability that we may give our clients and peace of thoughts by good, what we name our good supply promised the precise day and font day and time that funds will likely be obtainable, after which updating them each step of the best way to present them that peace of thoughts to ease any type of anxiousness, it’s simpler to try this, as a digital participant, it’s simpler to try this as a digital-first participant that has extra scale that may spend money on loads of the issues that trigger delays. And so I believe that future is inevitable. And I believe that it’s at an thrilling tipping level.

I simply suppose that it takes a bit of longer due to the belief aspect and fintech and monetary companies. And so we’re on that journey, and we’re excited to be main the best way.

Isabelle – Yeah, no, I imply, you’re doing amazingly with what you’re doing. So if anybody’s going to tip the trustee, you guys are. The report was it, and a few of the focus is on there’s a reliance on these type of bodily factors as a result of quite a bit is type of dealt in money. That is I’m simply quoting the report. How do you suppose we are able to get round this type of money aspect utilizing fintech? 

Matt – Yeah, nice level. Nice query. Nice level. So I believe after we speak about money, we talked about our enterprise, it’s vital to speak concerning the sender of the romance and the receiver. And what we’re speaking about is digitizing first, the sender of that remittance, proper, who used to go to love a bodily money location in just like the US, Canada, loads of international locations throughout Europe, Australia, Singapore, you title it. That’s the first I believe that’s at that tipping level that I discussed. And that’s our preliminary focus.

In the case of, and that does take value out of the system, all of the peace of thoughts that I discussed all these issues, proper? I believe there have been the report is correct is, is I believe it’s been a short time since I’ve learn it. However I believe that no matter what the report says, I believe on the obtain aspect, it’s on a distinct adoption curve, not solely then when you examine develop to creating markets, nevertheless it’s additionally on a distinct adoption curve. In the case of the particular nation we’re speaking about, proper. And I believe oftentimes, it’s simpler to take a seat in like Europe or the US and be like, you already know, bucket the entire world collectively. However like, China, relating to Alipay, and WeChat wallets is as reworked China, you already know, by way of shopper monetary companies, in very other ways than what the Mexico or Dominican Republic or Philippine market is like.

What we’ve got carried out nicely, I believe, is meet clients the place they’re at of claiming it’s advantageous, we are able to ship cash to billions of financial institution accounts to tons of of 1000s of money pickup areas the place that’s nonetheless well-liked, we are able to ship cash to tons of of tens of millions of cellular wallets, we are able to even do door to door supply in some international locations, whether or not that’s well-liked is only a handful of nations. However that’s how we need to obtain cash in that nation. And so we provide that, and I believe that over time, I might anticipate it to shift, however I’d anticipate it to shift and have seen a shift on a country-by-country foundation, versus, like, some international phenomenon. And will likely be there for our clients as that transition happens. And in the event that they need to get cash into like a digital disbursement choice, that’s nice, as a result of that does additionally carry down the price for us, which we are able to cross alongside to clients, as a result of we’re not then paying that disbursement agent who’s going to distribute money. And I believe that the IMF report and our philosophy are very a lot aligned. It’s simply acquired to be checked out on a country-by-country foundation.

Isabelle – It’s a very good level. What are the creating applied sciences you’re most enthusiastic about impacting the remittance market?

Matt – Yeah, I believe it ties to that earlier. You understand, query, I believe that there’s the digitization of economic companies is going on, whether or not that’s crypto or blockchain. Lots of people speak extra about that a few years in the past. I believe it does have a spot. However when you have a look at digitization extra broadly, that’s the development that I’m enthusiastic about. For those who have a look at it on a world foundation, once I say digitization, after we began this enterprise 12 years in the past, like I’m trying with audio and video, however like, not everyone across the globe, or a small proportion, I ought to say across the globe really had a smartphone.

We began the enterprise in 2011. iPhones. First iPhone was invented in 2007, first iPhone 2007. And so now you look, you already know, 1215 years later, two issues, digitization, particularly smartphones across the globe. And other people neglect, once more, once I was dwelling in Kenya, I noticed this inexpensive and dependable knowledge accessed is one thing that additionally has been within the final like 5 or 10-year phenomenon. It hasn’t been round for 20 or 30 years. And so I believe you’ve seen with digitization, and smartphone penetration and dependable knowledge entry loads of industries which have, you already know, already been reworked. And the development I’m enthusiastic about is what it means for monetary companies over the subsequent 5 or 10 years as a result of, once more, it takes that belief aspect. And so, the transition generally is a little bit slower, nevertheless it feels inevitable that digitization and particularly smartphones and dependable entry on a world scale, will assist enhance loads of clients’ lives relating to monetary companies. And we’re enthusiastic about, you already know, the function that can play in that, however that’s the development I’m enthusiastic about.

Isabelle – Okay, cool. What’s your favourite quote?

Matt – Ah, favourite quote, You understand what my grandmother, who was an incredible lady, and my dad interviewed earlier than she handed away and put this right into a e book that, like, I believe there’s like 20 copies in circulation, however the title of the e book known as “It should all work out”, which my grandmother Jane Oppenheimer stated and seems like a primary quote, in some methods.

However you already know, she had polio when she was in highschool, on the time, they thought placing her in a full-body forged was the appropriate factor to do. She served within the Purple Cross in World Warfare Two, she simply had loads of like, and he or she grew up Jewish and served on the earth within the Purple Cross in World Warfare Two. So she simply had these superb, like, some lovely, I’ve coated the like lovely, superb elements of her life and what she was a task mannequin. Once I take into consideration her quote or legislation exercise, I take into consideration a few of the challenges that she confronted all through her life. And it really bucket my different grandmother. She has one other superb, superb story. Her title was Ruth.

But it surely’ll all work out I believe, has a distinct which means. And I believe that’s an vital phrase for an entrepreneur as a result of there are occasions the place over the last 12 years the place it’s like, in opposition to all odds, we figured it out, nevertheless it takes that religion and hope amongst challenges that all of us face, whether or not it’s their entrepreneurial journey or whether or not it’s life challenges that we face. And I believe having that religion or that phrase, “it’ll all work out” is one thing I come again to.

Isabelle – Properly, I like that quote. I’m gonna take that quote. For those who may, okay, your curveball query, proper? The random one. For those who may flip into one other particular person for the day, who would you select to be?

Matt – Wow, does it need to be someone dwelling?

Isabelle – May very well be lifeless. I assume they might come again to life.

Matt – Properly that opens up the alternatives to, like, hit the like, what interval in time, I’d need to, at one level, return to if I might be an individual if I might be in one thing. It’s an excellent query.

Isabelle – You’re on the spot.

Matt – No, it’s nice. I imply, at first, what involves thoughts for me is known people. As a result of I believe it will be fascinating to love, be like, you already know, within the footwear of like loads of well-known people going by means of my thoughts, however really, if I take into consideration authentically, what I’ve been drawn to, I’ve all the time been drawn to love distinction and, and a distinct, dramatically totally different perspective on the world. Then what my day-to-day life is, and I received’t bore you with a bunch of tales that go vary from Peru to you title it. However it will most likely be to actually perceive the life in a distinct nation in a distinct language in a distinct tradition. What their lived experiences, as a result of once I’ve carried out that, there’s been extra similarities than variations. However there are additionally variations which are simply fascinating to actually like, perceive, so I received’t choose a selected nation and particular particular person, however that’s who I in the end need to be of their footwear for a day to grasp their life, their values, their household, from their eyes.

Isabelle – I want I may go into that extra that; that’s actually attention-grabbing. I’d like to know extra. However I can’t as a result of it’s the top of the podcast. How can folks come up with you?

Matt – You’ll be able to e-mail me. I get loads of buyer emails as nicely. At simply

Isabelle – Okay, cool. Thanks a lot. You’ve been an exquisite visitor

Matt – Wonderful, thanks for having me as nicely.

Isabelle – In order all the time, you may attain out and chat with me on my private LinkedIn or Twitter at @IZYCastrowrites. However for entry to nice every day content material, take a look at Fintech Nexus on LinkedIn, Twitter, Fb, or Instagram. You can even join our every day e-newsletter, bringing information straight to your inbox. 

For extra Fintech podcast enjoyable, take a look at the web site podcast, the place yow will discover extra fascinating conversations hosted by Peter Renton and Todd Anderson. 

That’s it from me. Till subsequent time, take pleasure in your downtime.

RELATED: The Fintech Espresso Break Ep. Eight – Bernhard Blaha, CEO of The Folks’s SCE

  • Isabelle Castro Margaroli

    With over 5 years within the artwork and design sector, Isabelle has labored on varied initiatives, writing for actual property growth magazines and design web sites, and mission managing artwork business initiatives. She has additionally directed impartial documentaries on artists and the esports sector.

    Isabelle’s curiosity in fintech comes from a craving to grasp the fast digitalization of society and the potential it holds, a subject she has addressed many instances throughout her educational pursuits and journalistic profession.


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