Who is Rewire and Why Did Remitly Buy Them?

Remitly is a leading remittances provider with a strong tech orientation. It’s a public company trading in Nasdaq under ticket RELY, which has raised $420m prior to its IPO and is now (August 2022) trading at a valuation of $2bn (down from its IPO price of approximately $8bn). Remitly has announced they bought an Israeli remittances startup named Rewire. In this article we will look into questions like who is Rewire, how good are Rewire reviews, and why did an industry giant like Remitly bought it.

Who is Rewire

Co-founded in 2015 by Guy Kashtan (CEO), Saar Yaholam (CTO) and Adi Ben Dayan (Vice President, R&D), Rewire was one of the very first online money transfer companies to offer an alternative to mainstream banks for sending money abroad from Israel.

To date, the company has raised $62 million in A and B rounds, including a $ 15 million line of credit. The latest $25 million fundraiser completed by Riviera several months ago was led by Migdal Insurance Company and was also attended by the French bank BNP Paribas, Viola Fintech, Monte Capital and Opera funds. Early investors in the company include Yahoo founder Jerry Young and Yehuda Zisapel, co-founders of the Red Bynet Group.

Today, Rewire continues to shape the way international workers manage their finances. Helping migrants to safely send money home for cheap, whilst supporting them with a number of other financial services too. Using innovative technology, Rewire is building the first self-proclaimed neobank (it is not actually a bank but is not licensed as such) tailored for the unique cross-border needs of migrants worldwide. Rewire recently accelerated its growth and saw a 3.5-fold increase in deposits and 2-fold increase in users, taking its total customers to over 600,000.

Rewire holds all of the required licensing to process international payments on behalf of private clients in the countries in which it operates. Its digital banking platform was launched throughout Europe in 2019 and this was followed-up by a launch in the UK in 2020. Rewire holds an EU Electronic Money Institution Licence through the Netherlands and is approved in the UK by the FCA as an Electronic Money Agent.

Led by values of equality and social good, Rewire is able to include migrants in the financial system and enable a fair banking proposition for everyone.

By targeting migrants, the firm is similar to companies like Azimo, Wise (formerly Transferwise), CurrencyFair and WorldRemit (its branding even shares a similar look and feel to WorldRemit). As a remittance company, Rewire specialises in low-value but frequent international transfers, such as regularly sending home a portion of your salary. It’s an online platform with a strong focus on remittances, but remittances are not the only financial services offered by the firm – more on this below.

To better protect accounts, Rewire implements two-factor authentication as another layer of security. When you’re signing in from an unrecognised device, Rewire sends you an SMS code to make sure it’s really you. As an optional layer of security, users can even set up facial recognition as an option to log in. Demonstrating the advanced tech capabilities of this fintech.

Rewire is Regulated By: 

Financial Conduct Authority (UK), Central Bank of Netherlands (EU), Ministry of Finance (Israel)

Rewire’s Awards: 

  • Best Fintech – Extreme Tech Challenge (2020)
  • Fastest Growing Digital Bank in Europe – Global Brands Magazine (2021)

Rewire Reviews

We have located over 6,000 Rewire reviews online. The highly respected mega-review platform Trustpilot has over 1,200 Rewire Reviews, Facebook has just over 300 (not verified) and there are thousands of Rewire reviews specific to the app; the majority of which are on the Google Play Store, with just a handful on the App Store. As of June 2022, the ratings were as follows:

  • TrustPilot – 4.2 / 5 (1,273 reviews – 70% Excellent, 10% Great, 3% Average, 1% Poor, 16% Bad)
  • Facebook – 3.8 / 5 (307 reviews – unverified as anyone can leave a review)
  • Google Play Store – 3.8 / 5 (4,190 reviews)
  • App Store – 4.8 / 5 (402 reviews)

There are a number of positive reviews of Rewire to be found online – 70% of TrustPilot reviews rated the service as Excellent – but we can’t look past the fact that there were also 17% of TrustPilot customers who left a bad review. Much higher than the 10% of customers who left a bad review for WorldRemit (which is quite high in itself) or the 6% of customers who left a bad review for Wise.

Rewire’s google play store rating is much worse than its app store rating and a number of android users are complaining of glitches.

Positive:

If we take out the rewire app reviews for now, roughly 80%, or 4 out of 5 customers, reported a positive experience with Rewire. The strong points of Rewire that were mentioned include:

  • Helpful customer service
  • Transfers are fast
  • Convenient and no hassle
  • Unique option in Israel
  • Revolutionary for migrants

Negative:

With almost 20% of Rewire reviews being complaints, the main themes highlighted were:

  • Restricted by the monthly limits
  • Accounts blocked with no notice
  • Payment delays and many cases of payments being returned
  • Money gets withheld and takes a long time to get back

Conclusion:

Most people had an excellent experience sending money with Rewire. Many users report of a seamless process that was both convenient and cheap. On the flip side, we can’t ignore the high proportion of complaints either. The number of complaints is above the industry average for “new-age” remittance companies that are meant to iron out a lot of the issues that come through sending money with old legacy players like Western Union.

The complaints are quite repetitive across the board, and the vast majority of unhappy users are reporting of their account being frozen and Rewire refusing to process payments on their behalf. Like all regulated money transfer companies, Rewire is required to conduct due diligence in order to understand its customers and who they are sending money to. However, it does look like Rewire is getting something wrong in this area as many users are reporting that their accounts are fully operational with other providers like  Wise. The bottom line is that it’s a very good service in Israel where there is less competition in the realm of digital banks and money transfers but within Europe and the UK, there are a number of better-reviewed money transfer companies to consider.

Rewire Fees & Exchange Rates:

Rewire Fees: Depending on the country you’re sending money to, Rewire may charge a small fee for the transfer. The fee is always clearly displayed and there are no hidden charges to send money home.

If you choose to add money via credit card or a bank transfer (via Token/Klarna), a fee might apply. You will always see this fee in your app before adding money. See how Rewire’s fees stack up against WorldRemit below:

Sending With
Sending ToWorldRemit (GBP)Rewire (GBP)
China (To AliPay Account)1.995.49
Thailand0.002.99
India1.490.99
South Africa3.990.00
Philippines1.991.49

The table above compares the differing payment fees between Rewire and WorldRemit when sending money from GBP. Depending on where you are sending money to, you can save on payment fees with either provider. Payments to China and Thailand are much more expensive with Rewire but payments to India, the Philippines and South Africa are all cheaper. The fee difference is quite negligible on transfers to India and the Philippines (particularly when the majority of costs are incurred in the exchange rate) but payments to South Africa are substantially cheaper. Whilst being £3.99 with WorldRemit, they are free with Rewire.

WorldRemit Exchange Rates: Like most providers in this space, the exchange rates offered by Rewire are not disclosed on their site. However, seeing as they publish their exchange rates, we can make a rough calculation as to what they charge.

A £1,000 transfer with Rewire to Philippine Peso suggests a rate of 66.2 can be achieved on 21/06/22.  At the same time as Rewire publishes this rate, the interbank rate is 66.78. This suggests an exchange rate spread of roughly 0.86% – a very reasonable exchange rate spread. WorldRemit’s spread is around 1% and Wise comes in slightly cheaper at roughly 0.51% but there are many companies that would charge 2%+ on this corridor.

One thing we are slightly weary of is the fact Rewire advertises a rate of 66.9 for new customers. Given that the current interbank rate is 66.78, this would mean Rewire is actually making a loss on the exchange. Clearly, this is not sustainable and suggests Rewire will be looking to recoup its costs later down the line.

Limits: There is a limit to each transaction of £2,500. Rewire also mentions a monthly limit of 40,000 ILS (roughly £10,000) providing you supply the right identification and verification. Otherwise the monthly limit is 24,000 ILS (roughly £5,000).

For many readers, these transfer limits are simply too restrictive for their requirements. Currency brokers generally tend to have no limits at all, whilst even online companies like Wise have higher limits of around £1million.

Rewire’s Global Footprint

Rewire has a reasonable global footprint that allows individuals to send money from any EU country, the UK and Israel. The capability to onboard Israeli residents is definitely unique and helps to set Rewire apart from the pack. Of the 80+ companies we review on Money Transfer Comparison, Wise is the only other company that can onboard clients in Israel (in addition to Western Union and Moneygram which are generally available worldwide but we never suggest using these firms).

Rewire’s Global Footprint Leading to Acquisition

When Remitly bought Rewire it was quoted that Rewire says it is “geographically complementary” (source) to Remitly and we also believe this is one of the main reasons for acquisitions. Other than the fact that both Remitly and Rewire operate in the same space and that Rewire customers can be onboarded into Remitly’s system and added into their client book (which would be helpful for Remitly after losing about 80% of its valuation after the IPO), Rewire also provides Remitly with an Israeli license to onboard customers from there which is another area for Remitly to expand into.

Israel’s Immigration & Remittances Market

There are 300,000 foreign workers in Israel, of which 30,000-50,000 are from the Philippines according to Wikipedia, making Israel a viable market for a remittances company. Companies like Western Union and Moneygram are active in Israel as well as startups like Neema and Covercy.

While 300,000 is a relatively small amount compared to the U.S where there are 29m immigrant workers and 5.9m in the UK, the number of immigrant workers in Israel still constitute an untapped market. In UAE, for example, which is considered a “large” immigrant market for remittance companies, there are only 450,000-500,000 immigrant workers.