DIGITAL REMITTANCE companies have set their sights on expanding their presence in the Philippines, with the country being one of their key markets in the region.

In an interview, an official of digital remittance company Remitly said it is high time for the firm to bolster its presence in the country, as they consider the Philippines as their “most mature market.”

“It makes perfect sense for Remitly to bolster operations here,” Karim Meghji, Global chief product officer of Remitly, said.

In an effort to increase its presence in the country, the official said the company has started hiring people to be part of its technology team.

“We actually just started to have a technology team here in the Philippines. We’re starting to track technology talents here that can help us with our expansion goals over the next few years,” Mr. Meghji said.

Remitly recently launched products that cater specifically to needs of Filipino consumers, such as a service by which Filipino seafarers can send money without leaving their ships, saving as much as 8% in remittance costs.

Mr. Meghji added that the Philippine market is a good place to test new products as the country is receptive to innovations.

“This market has shaken a lot of what we have done in our markets. This market helped us to learn what customers wanted,” he said.

He cited Remitly’s service enabling customers to remit to a digital wallet, which eventually failed.

“We thought that digital wallet is the way we’re going to transform the remittance business — that’s why it is very important for us to have that early on in this market,” he noted.

Remitly started its operations here in 2011 as a company that remitted dollars from US to the Philippines using digital means. The company has already handled a total transaction volume worth “less than a billion [dollars].”

Remitly also allows clients to send money here as well as to India, Mexico and some Latin American countries from United States, United Kingdom and Canada. It is also eyeing to set foot in some markets in Southeast Asia and Europe.

Digital remittance system WorldRemit is also looking at expanding its Philippine network following a round of capital raising.

In a statement, WorldRemit said it raised $40 million in its third round of capital raising. The funds will be used in establishing a new regional center in the country, as well as expanding its mobile-first digital service into new markets.

“This new funding will not only allow us to expand our network and service in the Philippines, but also build our regional [center] which will allow us to create more jobs for the country’s economy as well as [to] improve our service to customers globally,” WorldRemit Regional Director for Asia-Pacific Michael Liu was quoted as saying in a statement.

WorldRemit said the Philippines is the company’s largest receiving country, as it sends funds from 50 countries from 148 receiving ends.

According to the World Bank, the Philippines is the third largest remittance receiving countries, trailing behind India and China. 2016 data from the same monetary authority also shows that 10.2% of the country’s gross domestic product came from personal remittances. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal