Online money transfer company Remitly is to open an office in Ireland taking up space in the new Penrose Dock development in Cork.
Headquartered in Seattle, the company helps migrants around the world transfer money to their home countries and handles more than €5.35bn each year in transactions.
The office in Cork will oversee money laundering and anti-fraud operations along with financial regulatory compliance. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Remitly’s General Manager for Ireland Dermot Kennedy said they expected to move into their new office next month and to grow their small team over the coming months taking on new staff.
“We have more than 1,000 employees globally and are expanding further,” he said, adding that the IDA assisted the company in coming to Ireland.
“Cork’s long history with multinational tech companies like Apple and Amazon and the alignment with UCC and CIT was a big factor in locating here.”
With Covid-19 bringing the global economy to a shuddering halt, the World Bank predicts that global remittances by migrant workers to their families are set to fall by a record 20% this year to less than €400bn. This is largely due to a fall in the wages and employment of migrant workers, who tend to be more vulnerable to loss of employment during an economic crisis.
Despite this, Mr Kennedy said there was no change to the company’s plans to set up a new office in Cork.
“Definitely there was an attitude of ‘let’s keep going’ and while currently, we have just a small team we plan to increase our headcount to 12 by the end of the year,” he said.
Remitly said they saw a 40% increase in money transfers between February and March. “We have seen a 350% increase year-on-year in transactions in Europe and we have seen even bigger demand due to Covid-19,” Mr Kennedy said.
“The big challenge for traditional brick and mortar operations was that customers couldn’t leave their homes or their offices were closed. As a result, there has been a very sharp uptake in people moving to digital.” Up until the pandemic up to 70% of remittances worldwide were carried out by individuals using cash at physical locations but the switch to apps and digital services has been rapid.
Remitly was co-founded by Matthew Oppenheimer who was working for Barclays in Kenya and saw how difficult it was to send and receive money overseas.
While 2020 will see a 20% fall, the World Bank estimates that remittances will recover and rise by 5.6 per cent to almost €420bn next year.
By taking space in Penrose Dock, Remitly joins a growing list of companies locating in the new Cork Docklands office development from JCD.
Financial services firm Grant Thornton is moving from South Mall to take up the penthouse floor in one of the three buildings that make up Penrose Dock. Law firm Matheson has also pre-let office space and will be joined by tech firms Qualcomm, Sophos and Varonis.