WhatsApp of money founder on the future of mobile payments

Web Summit early bird tickets ends tomorrow

Ismail Ahmed is founder and CEO of WorldRemit, the WhatsApp of money now worth £320 million.

I spoke with Ismail before his appearance at Web Summit. His story is extraordinary. So far he has set up the first money transfer service from the UK to the Horn of Africa and helped companies comply with tough anti-money laundering rules introduced after the 9/11 attacks. Looking forward to hearing more come November

Can you give us a preview of what you’ll be discussing on stage?

Most of the attention in tech is on solutions that will only benefit the developed world. I’ll be discussing how one technology – Mobile Money – is genuinely transforming lives in emerging economies. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, Mobile Money enables people to securely store, send and receive money for the very first time. In the near future, the mobile phone will be the first and only means of accessing financial services for billions of people in the world.

Ismail, who are 3 people you want to meet at Web Summit?

1. Jamila Abass from M-Farm is another entrepreneur whose technology is transforming lives in the developing world.
2. Peter Smith, co-founder and CEO of Blockchain.
3. Mike Schroepfer from Facebook.

If you weren’t CEO of WorldRemit what would you be doing?

I’d most likely still be an academic. It’s a bit less hectic than my job at WorldRemit.

What does the future of money transfer look like in your eyes?

It’s incredible that in 2015 around 90-95% of remittances are still sent offline.

We’re going to see a rapid digitisation of money transfer on both the send and receive side, and especial growth in mobile-to-mobile remittances. Migrants will no longer make trips to internet cafés or newsagents to send money home – they’ll simply use money transfer apps. People in developing countries who rely on money sent abroad will no longer have to make expensive, time-consuming trips to agent locations, they’ll receive money instantly and securely on their phones.


What was your first job?

Back when I was living in Somaliland, I started working for a World Bank agricultural development project. It was through this job that I managed to win a World Bank scholarship to study in the UK.

Hear from Ismail yourself at Web Summit in November. Early bird ticket sale ends tomorrow.

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