Online Money Transfer Startup WorldRemit Appoints Former Gambling Boss as New CEO

Ambitious online money transfer company hires Paddy Power Betfair’s Breon Corcoran as new boss

UK fintech company WorldRemit today confirmed the appointment of former Paddy Power Betfair CEO Breon Corcoran as its new Chief Executive after weekend reports that he would become the new boss of the rapidly growing digital money transfer business.

WorldRemit was founded in 2010 by Somaliland entrepreneur Ismail Ahmed. Mr. Ahmed was studying in London at the time and was forced to travel across the city in search for an agent to transfer money to his family who lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. The transactions were extremely costly and usually required months to be completed, but Mr. Ahmed’s family needed the money.

Frustrated by the complex remittance process, he set up WorldRemit to storm the international remittance market. He spotted an opportunity in the quick growth of mobile money accounts to grow his business. Today, WorldRemit serves more than 800,000 customers from more than 50 countries who send money to millions of people in around 150 countries. Supporting migrants send money from developed countries to family and friends based in emerging economies has been the main focus of Mr. Ahmed’s company.

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WorldRemit’s founder is currently its Chief Executive, but once Mr. Corcoran steps in, Mr. Ahmed will assume the post of Executive Chairman. Mr. Corcoran left major gambling operator Paddy Power Betfair this past January after sixteen years at the company and its predecessors.

He first joined Paddy Power in 2001 as Managing Director of its Non-Retail (Digital) operations. He was appointed as the company’s Chief Operating Officer in 2010, but left in 2011. In 2012, he joined rival gambling operator Betfair as its CEO. In 2016, he was appointed as the Chief Executive of the combined Paddy Power Betfair. He had an instrumental role in what was praised as a successful merger of the two major gambling companies.

Mr. Corcoran surprisingly announced his departure from Paddy Power Betfair last August and left his post in January 2018 to be replaced by Peter Jackson. Prior to stepping down, the former gambling CEO drew quite some ire from the UK retail betting industry as he supported openly the proposed cut of the maximum stake on FOBTs to £10 or less from £100.

Mr. Corcoran said in a letter to Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Minister Tracey Crouch dated September 2017 that the FOBT issue has become so toxic that

“only a substantial reduction in FOBT stake limits to £10 or less will address societal concerns. I am confident we could operate our retail business successfully and profitability under such circumstances. Other well-run operators should be able to do the same.”

Fintech Unicorn

With Mr. Corcoran now at the helm, WorldRemit is expected to soon become the UK’s newest technology unicorn, that is a start-up worth at least $1 billion. The company has received more than $200 million in funding since it was founded and some of its investors have included TriplePoint Venture Growth, Accel Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank. It most recently raised funds in a $40-million round that was led by LeapFrog Investments.

Earlier in October, the company extended its footprint across Africa by launching online bank transfers in Botswana, Chad, Zambia, Mozambique, and five more countries. WorldRemit has revealed that the transactions that it has handled to Africa this year have increased 75% year-on-year. Its fees range between 2% or 3%, which is significantly less than major banks for the same type of transactions.

The UK-based company says that its growth has accelerated in 2018 and it expects its annual revenue to top £95 million, up from £60.5 million in 2017. With the expansion of its reach and its rapid overall growth, the company believes it is in a strong position to “leverage the increasing demand for cashless payments.”

Commenting on the appointment of Mr. Corcoran as the new WorldRemit CEO, Mr. Ahmed said in a statement that with their “goal of delivering a better and safer experience for people sending money home” and the former gambling boss’ “reputation for developing a consumer-first culture makes” they will be able to build on their vision.”

Mr. Corcoran said that “with tailwinds like the global adoption of new technologies combined with growing remittance flows, there is enormous potential for WorldRemit’s global expansion.”


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