The Swedish communications company Rebtel has secured $8 million in financing from its owner company to further expand its ecosystem of resources for “modern migrants,” adding digital banking services to its existing communication / telephony services and on-demand work offerings. Rebtel clarified via email that “the proceeds come from the sale of Sinch, which was spun out of Rebtel in 2014.” In addition Rebtel said that it is also investing another $8 million of its own funds to expand its ecosystem of resources for modern migrants, adding digital banking services to their existing communication and on‐demand work offerings.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Existing @Rebtel backers – including Index Ventures and Balderton Capital – have reinvested the proceeds from the sale of Sinch back in 2014 amounting $8M.” quote=”Existing @Rebtel backers – including Index Ventures and Balderton Capital – have reinvested the proceeds from the sale of Sinch back in 2014 amounting $8M.”]
Rebtel’s primary service today comes in the form of an iOS or Android App that provides inexpensive international calling. Rebtel’s mission is to break down the barriers for migrants and ease the process of transitioning and building a life in a new country. Venture Capital funds Balderton Capital and Index Ventures are – together with other existing owners – responsible for the new injection of funding.
“When moving to a new country whether it be for work, love, or a new beginning, many migrants don’t have the credit or financial history to get up and running. With the addition of this service, we hope to ease the barriers to migrants success and help them prosper wherever they land,” noted Rebtel CEO Magnus Larsson. “Rebtel is a company of 40 different nationalities. We offer today’s migrant community the best and most complete offerings to help them navigate their lives and travels and be successful and connected wherever they land.”
Rebtel will be taking the new funding and combine it with $8 million from its existing treasury totaling $16 million for its new digital banking endeavor. The digital banking service is expected to launch in Q4 of 2018.
While specifics of the rollout are being finalized, the goal is to provide the nearly 50% of unbanked migrants around the world with a trustworthy and easily accessible option that will breakdown the many barriers to beginning a new life in a new country.
[clickToTweet tweet=”[email protected] goal: to provide the nearly 50% of global #unbanked migrants with a trustworthy and easily accessible option that will breakdown barriers to beginning a new life in a new country. #fintech” quote=”[email protected] goal: to provide the nearly 50% of global #unbanked migrants with a trustworthy and easily accessible option that will breakdown barriers to beginning a new life in a new country. #fintech”]
Reportedly on track to do $100+ million in revenue in 2018, Rebtel has taken its existing services and relationships with this growing population and listened to their needs. Rebtel assesses that 500,000 of its active paying user base today that would be likely to also use new digital banking products when launched.
Rebtel has initiated:
- Activists embedded in local communities
- A target customer segment
- An established ecosystem of services which makes digital banking a natural extension for its customers
Rebtel currently offers global unlimited calling to 56 countries for $10 a month. In addition to the communications services, the tech platform offers an on-demand job program in migrant rich communities including Miami and Houston which pays migrants for signups to the Rebtel app, earning roughly $20 an hour. Over 15,000 have joined the program since it launched in January 2016. Rebtel is also looking to build physical hubs in these communities.
Crowdfund Insider reached out to Rebtel’s Larsson about the platform’s evolution:
Magnus Larsson: “We started out with what we knew best – fixing communications for this group that is so diverse and interesting. As we came to understand the group better, we saw that while communications is the first thing you need whenever you cross a border, we saw that employment and making a living is the second thing you look for – so we launched our Activist program in which anyone can sign up to sell our products in their communities through a dedicated app. So as we went along, learning more and understanding more about the needs of migrants, expats, and essentially anyone crossing a border whether for love, career or fleeing from war – we saw that there is great need for modern, flexible, digital banking products.
“This target group is largely ignored by the big neo banks and banks. We understand the users, we are passionate about helping them and those who use us are loyal to us. So it is a logical next step for us as a company wanting to fix problems for anyone crossing a border.”
Crowdfund Insider: What inspired the growth? what did you see within your users or in the market to make you feel it was something you needed to offer?
Larsson: “According to World Economic Forum nearly 50% of the world’s migrants around the world are unbanked – so there is clearly huge need for modern, easily to access products and services of financial and banking nature. In our context, Rebtel’s goal is to build products our customers love. We are present in our customers’ communities, working to understand their needs and pain points. We’ve heard directly that there is an unmet need in banking. It’s really the importance of understanding the different communities, speaking the language and so on where big banks are underperforming. Given the trust we have here, and our customer base, there is a significant opportunity to make a difference. There’s also precedent for the combination of telecom and financial services. Notably, Orange and o2 already have bank products in the market.”
[clickToTweet tweet=”[email protected]: ‘We are surpassing a 100 million USD in revenue for 2019, and growing strongly around 20 % year on year – our biggest challenge is finding the right talent and retaining that talent so we have the best people in our team.'” quote=”[email protected]: ‘We are surpassing a 100 million USD in revenue for 2019, and growing strongly around 20 % year on year – our biggest challenge is finding the right talent and retaining that talent so we have the best people in our team.'”]
Crowdfund Insider: What stands to hinder the innovation?
Larsson: “I would have said funding to enable the growth and innovation we want as a company, but with new financing secured recently our biggest challenge is talent acquisition and retention.
“We are surpassing a 100 million USD in revenue for 2019, and growing strongly around 20 % year on year – our biggest challenge is finding the right talent and retaining that talent so we have the best people in our team.
Luckily, we strive to have a team that mirrors our users worldwide – so we recruit from the whole world to our headquarter in Stockholm, Sweden, and to our operational hubs in Houston Texas and Miami, Florida. As of today, we internally have more than 40 nationalities represented in our total staff of 95.”
Crowdfund Insider: Will Rebtel partner with any other Fintech platforms in this venture or go it alone?
Larsson: “We believe that we are a force to be reckoned with standing on our own, but our priority is to be successful in building the best products and services needed by anyone crossing a border, anywhere in the world. If we need to partner with others – whether Fintech platforms, neo banks, old banks or others – we will do it if needed and if it supports that ambition.
“We have already stated that we have allocated funds to specifically build banking products, or to acquire a neo bank to speed up our strategy. I guess acquiring a neo bank could be seen as a partnership of sorts.”