“Migration is a fact of life,” Ahmed says.
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Refugee, economist, whistleblower, entrepreneur – Ismail Ahmed has played many roles in his odyssey from war-torn Somalia to London's fintech frontier. But one event stands out: In February 2010, he used a $200,000 settlement from the United Nations to start online money-transfer company WorldRemit Ltd. That will make it easier for its 2.4 million customers to send money with just a couple of taps and take Ahmed a step closer to becoming a force in modernizing the way $444 billion a year in remittances are sent to developing economies.Since 2011, the number of people using digital cash on smartphones to collect wages and pay bills has jumped fivefold to more than 500 million accounts in almost 100 nations, according to GSMA, a London-based trade group. Sending mobile money internationally costs less than 3 percent per transaction, about half what traditional transfer firms charge. WorldRemit says it handles three out of four intercontinental mobile-money transfers. Western Union, which dominates the business with 500,000 agents in 200 nations, is mounting a digital counteroffensive.The company is building its own online service, and with transfers to 37 countries the unit produced revenue of $340 million in 2016, far more than WorldRemit's $51 million.
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