South Korean Fintech Startup WireBarley Bags US$10M Series B

WireBarley claims to offer international remittance services at 80% lower prices than banks

South Korean fintech startup WireBarley has secures US$10 million in a Series B round of financing from Magna Investment, Shinsegae I&C and Dt & Investment, the startup announced in a press release yesterday.

WireBarley specializes in global remittance services. The company will utilize the fresh funds to strengthen its cross-border remittance capabilities for customers to enable its expansion into the business-to-business segment, the statement noted.

It added that the latest investment will also be used to develop and launch new products over the next few months ,including multi-currency wallet services and additional banking services for North America.

Additionally, the startup plans to expand to Hong Kong in October, as well as to Europe and the Middle East, the statement said.

WireBarley offers contactless domestic and international remittance through its mobile and online platform. It currently operates in five countries–the U.S., Canada, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand–for cross-border remittance, and is available in 21 countries for inbound remittance.

According to the statement, the startup has established a strong global network with 80 remittance corridors, affordable fees, fast transfer speeds, and friendly customer service. WireBarley offers money transfer services at 80% lower cost than banks, the company’s website says.

WireBarley had previously raised $4 million in its Series A funding round in June, 2018, according to data from Tracxn. The company has raked in over $400 million in revenue to date, and its mobile application has been downloaded over 400,000 times, the statement noted.

To bolster its growth, WireBarley recently launched its ‘zero-fee policy’ which waives the transfer fees for all international remittances originating in South Korea as well as for money transfers from the U.S. to South Korea, the statement noted.

In recent months, WireBarley has stitched together several partnerships to expand its network. In July, the startup joined hands with China’s largest mobile payment platform Alipay, allowing Alipay users in China to receive remittances from South Korea, Australia, U.S., and Canada, via Alipay, according to media reports.

The startup also signed a cooperation agreement in February with Ripple, whose blockchain-based payment network RippleNet aims to make cross-border remittances more efficient and cost effective, according to a report by Asia Crypto Today.

World Bank data indicates that the total volume of international remittances reached $689 billion in 2018—surpassing the GDP of Hong Kong and Singapore combined.

However, despite the advancement in fintech, cross-border remittance processes remain expensive and have a long processing time. A recent World Bank study points out that the global average cost of cross-border remittance transactions stood at 6.67% in Q2 of 2020, with banks remaining the most expensive service providers with an average international remittance cost of 10.57%.

International remittance services are used primarily by migrant workers who transfer money to their home countries, and with 164 migrant laborers in the world (2017), there is a huge opportunity for low-cost international remittance service providers like WireBarley.

However, in the short term, the impact of the global pandemic is projected to lower international remittances by almost 20% in 2020, an unprecedented decline in recent history, a World Bank report noted.

Further, remittances to low and middle income countries like Indonesia, India, South Korea, Cambodia, China, and the Philippines, is projected to decline by 19.7% to $445 billion, the report added.

Header image courtesy of WireBarley

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