Remitly Reports Third Quarter 2023 Results

Thanks for the thoughtful reply Jeff.

First, Wise has a B2B segment as well that makes the transfer/customer seem higher.

Apple-to-apples, Wise has about 6.9 million non-business customers that did about $100 billion in volume over the TTM so call it about ~$14,500 per customer in volume per year.

Remitly has 5.4 million customers that did $36 billion in volume over the TTM so call it ~$6,700 per customer in volume per year.

So yes, Wise certainly does higher volumes but not quite an order of magnitude.

Second, I get the sense you’re saying that Remitly’s cash network is the secret sauce here. That is an interesting insight but what does the future hold here? Cash is going away and more people will have cheap smartphones in the future. I don’t see how these cash networks (which Remitly partners with banks and other retail sites) will be as relevant in the future.

Wise actually seems better positioned in this sense.

Third, Remitly’s take-rate (revenue / volume) is about 2.35% over the TTM whereas Wise’s is about 0.85%.

I imagine the difference is because cash withdrawals are much more complicated and the banks/retail sites want a piece of the action.

If Remitly is focused on immigrant populations that don’t have a bank account and don’t have a smartphone that seems like it will become more of a niche over time. At the same time, Remitly is certainly adding customers at a torrid clip right now so that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

However, I would caution saying that Wise is an indirect competitor. If we fast forward several years, and more immigrants have a phone, would the secret sauce of cash networks be more or less relevant?

Best,
Ryan

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@PaulWBryant After watching interviews with CEO Matt Oppenheimer (more than 2 hours worth), my guess is that he would describe Remitly’s primary moat as trust. I think it’s not accidental that their ticker is RELY.

Oppenheimer describes the competition as diving into the space broadly with an eye to a land grab, while Remitly chose to go deep in one location, build trust and a deep network and then broaden to other markets in similar fashion. Lessons learned early allow them to scale later locations more quickly, and there is a lot of business gained through word of mouth.

As others have noted, Wise appears to be the most direct competitor apart from the legacy providers (like Western Union) that both are trying to disrupt. As was also noted, they serve similar but not identical portions of a very large market.

But for those who especially need to trust their provider, the Wikipedia page for Wise appears to have issues that could ding the “trust” front:

On 27 June 2022, the Financial Conduct Authority reported that the Wise CEO, Kristo Käärmann, was included on their list of individuals and businesses receiving penalties for a deliberate default regarding their tax affairs.[38] He would remain on the list for 12 months, starting in September 2021. He reportedly failed to pay £720,000 for the 2017–2018 tax year.[39]

That looks to be a personal rather than a corporate issue, but the article also lists these:

In May 2016, Wise’s claim “you save up to 90% against banks” was called misleading by the UK Advertising Standards Authority.[52]

In June 2020, after experts raised ethical and privacy concerns around the digital COVID-19 immunity passports Wise was helping develop, the company conceded immunity passports were not a “perfect solution” and co-founder Hinrikus said they would not be launched publicly until there was scientific consensus on COVID-19 immunity.[53]

Wise used to be a preferred service for Ukrainian nationals to transfer cash, especially after the Russian invasion of the country, e.g., for supporting relatives that had to flee Ukraine. While other financial institutions kept their operations for Ukraine residents open, Wise suspended the opening of new accounts.[54][55]

In January 2023 Wise was accused of harming competition in an official letter to the UK Competition and Markets Authority by its competitor Atlantic Money. Wise is said to have removed the cheaper challenger from its international transfers price comparison table for economic reasons. Wise is also alleged to have denied Atlantic Money access to additional comparison sites the firm owns and controls.[56][57]

It’s a bit unfair to compare Remitly’s Wikipedia page, since it has not been updated recently; but my sense is that those upset with ethics at Remitly would not hesitate to add their complaints to Remitly’s page if they existed.

And what has not yet made it to the Wikipedia page for Wise is this WSJ article from the end of August detailing a UK complaint against the company for dealing with a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

It wasn’t a ton of money, but combined with the Wikipedia note about cutting off Ukrainians from using Wise’s services, when they were widely using Wise immediately following the start of the war, and the “trust” factor for Wise takes an even bigger hit.

Pull that stuff with desperate populations and word travels pretty fast. You will never get that business back.

I found the above on Wise as I was hunting for some apples to apples charts to post for both WISE and RELY. While it’s harder to find those when comparing a US and a UK company, these are some charts I pulled for each company from Yahoo.




Do with those numbers what you will. But I think trust is RELY’s biggest moat. Trust builds loyalty and is a hugely important metric for a migrant population trying to keep loved ones afloat at home.

JabbokRiver
Long RELY (11.95% as of today’s close)
No position in WISE.

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You’re just highlighting risks that are inherent in investing in any financial instituation. If you looked at all the penalties that banks regularly are face they’d think they are all completely untrustworthy. Just for kicks I picked JPMorgan Chase, arguably the most reputable bank in the US https://violationtracker.goodjobsfirst.org/parent/jpmorgan-chase.

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Ryan,

To quote an article:

“Many market observers find it surprising that the number of “cash pick-ups” is so substantial, considering that 95% of the global population has access to mobile broadband. The primary reason for this phenomenon is that a considerable portion of the global population remains unbanked — according to the World Bank, 1.4 billion adults do not have a bank account. Therefore, having a vast global distribution network for cash pick-ups is crucial for being a global cross-border remittance provider.”

From what i know, Cell phones are already cheap globally - the issue is the unbanked folks. They need a cash network. Also, due to global warming and continued political instability in the developing world, migrant populations are likely to grow. According to the World Bank, the global remittances market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 6% by 2027. This momentum has been fueled by the rising number of migrants globally, coupled with the adoption of digital channels like mobile devices adding to convenience and affordability.

I don’t think cash networks are the secret sauce but they are clearly necessary and important to serve the immigrant population. Trust, frictionless transactions, and competitive fees are also very important. Clearly, remitly is providing a better experience. As for their moat, I’m still trying to figure out how wide it is as I am new to the company with a 4% trial position.

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I am a long time personal and business user of Wise.

It is a pretty solid service, although not without its irritations e.g. if you are a business user OR a personal user, account management is straightforward, but if you are both then there are some issues.

However Wise’s key operational differentiator is that it strives to balance flows between currencies, so that it needs to make few actual conversions - e.g. it matches people sending USD to Australia with people sending AUD to the US etc. this enables it to be a price leader when it comes to actual exchange rates.

I’m not sure there is balanced demand between the US and Honduras, for example, so I would be surprised if Wise and Remitly really saw themselves as direct competitors.

Cham

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So, if there was a way to transfer value peer-to-peer (which does not require “trust” in a 3rd party), and do it instantly with low fees, it could possibly take market share from all the incumbents?

In the not to distant past, if I wanted to send a message to someone in Africa I had to write it on paper, take it to the post office, pay a lot of money, have it routed through several different organizations, and wait a couple of weeks for it to be delivered. Now I have at least a dozen different ways I could get a message to someone in Africa for free and instantly. That same magnitude of change is in the process of happening for the ability to transfer value around the world.

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Banks have been in the business of matching inflows and outflows for a very long time. There is absolutely nothing new about that business model. Regardless, you still need to have a local account at a local bank to diburse the money.

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There seems to be some misunderstanding on wise vs rely and about recipients in emerging markets, maybe because we don’t have many posters from emerging markets. First, the data point about the “unbanked” which has seemingly seen such incredibly reductions in many countries needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. In India, for example, the vast majority of the new bank accounts were due to a push by the government, and more than half of these remain dormant. Cash remains king in India and the unbanked remain unbanked despite “having” a bank account. Source. Also, in many surveys the “banked” include people with a mobile money wallet like MPesa (you can’t transfer money from your bank account in the US or Europe to Mpesa for example).

On to Wise vs Remitly.

Wise is essentially a bank imo: (“Wise: the international account - money without borders”) - you can store value in your account, make deposits and payments to and from your account and it caters well to multiple recipients like a bank account. I’ve used it for 5 years (I checked; I opened the first account when it was still called Transferwise in 2018) and I have 1 account with quite a bit of money in there - it is for all intents and purposes a transactional bank account - the business side of it integrates with Xero, you can deposit money into your account via a third party sponsor bank, set up multiple users with different auth levels, set up scheduled and batch payments, manage various recipients etc. It’s a bank account, its got a card. The risk profile is that of a bank too imo and the target market is that of a bank. They also do remittances, yes, but their focus is that of a bank (you can do remittances with your bank too, it’s just expensive and a poor experience).

Remitly does not store your cash; it is not a bank. It takes your cash (you pay them via local payment rails) and they then give it to someone else in another country and they take care of the many different regulations in each and take a small cut for their trouble. It’s an app and workflow that only remits. It does not store. The target market, the workflow, everything is different to Wise. It’s also cheaper initially, as you get the fees discounted for the first couple remits which you don’t get with Wise (the rates are roughly the same, but there are fixed fees for each transaction).

Wise does not do what Remitly does well (and vice versa). I tried to use Wise to remit money to some destinations that I thought were interesting. From Euro to Kenya (not available), South Africa (not supported), India (only to bank account or UPI), Argentina (not supported), Thailand (Bank account only), Brazil (bank account only).

And then I checked the same via Remitly from Euro to Kenya (Mobile money - 3 different ones supported, Bank deposit, cash pickup), South Africa (Bank deposit, cash pickup), India (Bank, UPI, Cash pickup, mobile money), Argentina (Bank deposit, mobile money - 6 different ones incl Mercado Pago which we know, cash pickup), Brazil (Bank, Pix, cash pickup).

In short - Wise and Remitly are substitutes in the same way that a pickup truck and sedan are imo. But they don’t compete directly except for the remittance part of Wise’s offering, which is not on par with Remitly.

Remitly is disrupting the dinosaur Western Union and the banks! Don’t forget the banks - the original dinosaur. And they are in a class of their own ito the breadth of offering and the focus on remittances that they have. They are cheap, easy to use and offer ease of use for recipients - they give the sender wide choice to send the money to the recipient in the way/channel that works for them - be that cash, mobile money or bank account.

I’m keeping my small position.

-wsm

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My concern is whether they have sustainable growth prospects:

  1. The majority of their Customers probably only need a single, very-narrow payment pathway, so there’s no Network Effect via any Customer-to-Customer interactions
  2. Many/most of the recipients have no need for a full-service bank, is there any opportunity for adjacent growth into new services for the end-users? I can’t see any.
  3. Since they are basically a huge collection of point-to-point solutions, they are vulnerable to multitudes of smaller players offering specific point-to-point solutions for less money.

I have a tiny position that I’m holding, for now, while I learn more.
But I think there’s a risk there is no long-term sustainable advantage.

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Hi, I live in Chile and here immigrants use RIA which belongs to Euronet Worldwide (EEFT).

It also operates in the remittance industry, they provide global electronic payment and transaction processing solutions and have a broader range of financial services while Remitly is known as a digital platform focused on international money transfer. Notably, they’re similar in size.

Best,

Pablo Ahlers

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@intjudo I’m pretty sure that I read that a lot of their customers are gained via word of mouth. Immigrant communities tend to be close knit. My parents were immigrants from Austria. Initially they lived in NYC and after a few years they moved to Chicago. That was before I was born, but it became clear to me that they had a pretty large circle of friends who were also Austrian immigrants. If someone is please with the service they received from Remitly, they are likely to recommend that service to others. Similarly, if they are unhappy with the service, that too is sure to be passed along.

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From their Q3 2024 call transcript:

We continue to benefit from scale, a multiyear focus on brand building, increasing creative velocity, and word of mouth. Customer behavior remains consistently strong, even with the volatile macroeconomic environment, and we are pleased with the customer engagement and retention we are seeing across our corridors and customer cohorts. We also believe word of mouth has been a key driver of efficient new customer acquisition as our recent survey results indicate high levels of trust in the Remitly brand and likelihood to recommend Remitly to family and friends. Our recent surveys indicate that more than eight in 10 of our customers have told someone else to use Remitly, and nine in 10 customers say Remitly is a company they can trust.

Some also questioned their growth opportunity. This is also from the CEO introduction to the Q3 call.

While we have doubled our market share over the past two years, we are still only slightly more than 2% of the more than $1.6 trillion global remittance market. Our prior investments have resulted in increasing market share in the U.S. and Canada.

And yet, we are by no means near our market share potential, and we expect to continue to drive significant growth for many years to come in the U.S. and Canada. We grew revenue over 30% in the U.S. and over 40% in Canada during the third quarter and acquired a record number of new customers in each of these markets, which bodes well for future growth.

Outside the U.S. and Canada, we have an even larger opportunity to drive market share, as well as revenue growth of over 90% in the third quarter and an increasing share of new customers coming from outside the U.S. and Canada.

We have significant growth opportunities, both in markets that we are currently in and those we expect to enter over the coming years.

JabbokRiver
11% position

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JabbokRiver
11% position

Dang, ur brave. :slight_smile: I just started a position, and it is a tiny watch position at the moment. Been reading all the discussions here, but it was the reported results that got me to like the growth numbers.

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In terms of my cost basis, I have roughly equal positions across my companies now. Several of them are larger anchors (CRWD, PANW, and TTD) and then there are the smaller companies that have a lot more risk, but in my mind a higher potential reward.

My smallest cost basis at the moment is actually CRWD, since I trimmed it pretty heavily last month, but it’s up over 9% today after earnings, so now it’s a 12% position for me and up over 42% from my cost.

I’m pulling for Pure Storage (PSTG), which reports in a few minutes. Their storage solutions are perfect for AI, so I’m hoping for good news.

JR

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I think there’s a parallel that’s useful for framing my thoughts about $RELY:
USPS, $UPS and $FDX

UPS started out as a bootstrap operation founded with a $100 loan running a messenger service. It soon expanded into running parcel deliveries from stores to ppl’s homes. In both cases they were exploiting weak links in USPS’ capabilities to deliver, point-to-point, a thing from one person to another person, quickly and on short notice.

I think the parallel between this early version of UPS (local package delivery only; they wouldn’t become a general mail carrier until much later) and $RELY is pretty straightforward: in both cases

  1. The upstart is exploiting a weakness in the incumbent’s network to fill a niche.
  2. There is no Network Effect in terms of recurring Customer-to-Customer business interaction aside from word-of-mouth referrals.
  3. The business involves very narrowly defined business requirements: point-to-point delivery of a thing from one person to another

UPS’ parcel delivery business soon faced competition from a new source: car ownership increased and ppl started picking up their own packages via car. UPS had to adapt to survive, and they did: they became a general mail carrier.

Later on, FedEx repeated the pattern: they exploited a weakness shared by USPS and UPS, and started out filling a niche: express package delivery, initially available to/from only a small number of locations.

Obviously it’s early innings, and $RELY has a lot of potential expansion via their current business model ahead of them before they have to worry about getting displaced themselves. But if/when the time comes, it’s too bad their narrowly defined range of offerings is encapsulated in their very name.

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