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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Cross-border money transfer service WorldRemit is enabling its immigrant customer base to send money home using Android Pay, making it the first international remittance firm to run on the Google payments system, the company said on Tuesday.
Connecting with Android Pay will enable WorldRemit customers in developed markets like Europe or North America to make instant international money transfers to reach the 112 million accounts available via WorldRemit's network of payment channels.
London-based WorldRemit says it handles about three-quarters of mobile phone-based international money transfers, a small but fast-growing segment of the global $575 billion worldwide remittance market. Recipients using WorldRemit can up pick cash or deposit money in banks or mobile money accounts or top up mobile accounts.
Android Pay is a secure way for smartphone users to store credit, debit or loyalty cards to make payments online or in stores which Google has set up in about 15 of the world's most advanced markets since launching it two years ago.
In effect, smartphone users where Android Pay is available will have a simple and secure way to make money transfers to the 125 countries where WorldRemit operates.
"Our customers often complete money transfer transactions while talking to family or friends on WhatsApp," WorldRemit Chief Executive Ismail Ahmed said in an interview last week at the MoneyConf financial technology conference in Madrid. "Anything we can do to simplify that process is a big thing for us."
Ahmed, a former United Nations development advisor from Somaliland, set up WorldRemit in 2010 and has raised nearly $150 million in equity funding from venture firms including Accel and TCV and another $45 million in debt financing.
Once Android Pay is set up, transfers can be done in five clicks via the WorldRemit service, the company said. Using this route, customers no longer have to re-enter credit card details or pass additional security tests that can derail transactions.
The cost of transfers via Android Pay are in line with other credit or debit card processing fees it charges - normally well under 5 percent - WorldRemit said.
WorldRemit makes money by charging basic handling fees and a small mark-up on foreign exchange rates, which typically undercut rates charged by traditional, agent-based transfer firms like Western Union and MoneyGram.
Online payments firm PayPal began offering Android Pay to U.S. customers for domestic shopping or other transactions in April, but has not expanded internationally.
Editing by Christian Schmollinger