ChallengeReducing the number of fraudulent transactions that resulted in monetary losses
SolutionVonage SMS API with Two-Factor Authentication
ResultsFraudulent transactions dramatically reduced; high level of transparency and communication for Remitly clients; scalable and efficient communications via Vonage SMS
Matt Oppenheimer, the co-founder and CEO of Remitly, launched his company in 2011 after living in Kenya and seeing firsthand how difficult and expensive it was to send money across borders.
At that time, the going rate was 8 to 10% of the total transfer just to send the money. He realized that, with the help of technology, the cost of these kinds of transactions could be greatly reduced and that remittances could be made easier, faster, and more transparent by replacing the existing cash-based brick-and-mortar model with a purely digital one.
Today, Remitly is the largest independent digital remittance company headquartered in the U.S. The 400+ person, Seattle-based company transfers over $2 billion annually from their customers in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Canada, to recipients in India, Mexico, Latin America, and the Philippines.
The funds that Remitly users send to other countries are most often lifelines that enable their loved ones to pay rent, have enough food and clothing, or pay for a child’s education. As such, it is imperative that these remittances are sent through legitimate, highly-secure channels that use the most innovative technology to safeguard against fraud and suspicious activity.
Because authentication and security were so high on Remitly’s list of “must-haves,” the company consulted with an industry specialist to help them find a vendor that would provide the best communications options for the countries they wanted to reach. Vonage was at the top of the list of recommendations.
According to Nick Moiseff, director of products at Remitly, “The metrics that Vonage provides around each recipient had a lot to do with our choice. When we first started, we didn’t have a lot of experience with customer communications and text messaging. The Vonage team was very helpful in getting things set up. It was more ‘plug-and-play’ as opposed to ‘here’s a lot of infrastructure that we have to set up and own.'”
In addition to how easy it was to work with Vonage APIs, Moiseff is also extremely pleased with the ease of use in sending messages and the ongoing technical support that Vonage offers.
Keeping Risks and Costs Low
One way in which Remitly ensures that the costs involved with sending money remain as low as possible is by eliminating any of the forms, codes, agents, extra time and fees that are typical of the older, more traditional money transfer processes. Another significant way of reducing costs is for Remitly to make sure that fraudulent transactions are kept to an absolute minimum.
“If there are a lot of fraudulent transactions, then we need to reserve money to pay for those fraudulent transactions or to reimburse customers,” said Moiseff. “Then, the low fees that we offer our customers would need to be raised in order to cover the problem.” That, according to Moiseff, is where Vonage provides a tremendous benefit.
“Vonage helps with this situation by providing its two-factor authentication. Then, there’s also a number of alternatives that Vonage offers to keep things even more secure, such as a one-time password which is received via email, phone call, or both. With Vonage, we can verify a customer’s identity, or the ownership of an account, in various ways. We have actually seen a discernible decrease in fraud rates by using these different methods that allow us to authenticate customer accounts.”
Not only did Vonage’s SMS API make a significant impact in reducing Remitly’s fraudulent transactions, but it also made a big difference in terms of the money saved because of the losses that were prevented. Moiseff estimates that somewhere in the neighborhood of $250K – $300K have been saved since implementing Vonage.
Moiseff also has high praise for the level of transparency and communication his company can offer its clients because of Vonage technology. “Just like when you make an online purchase and you want to know where your goods are [at] any given point in time, Remitly is extremely committed to letting our customers know where their money is in the process of moving it between accounts. Vonage plays a crucial role in allowing us to send our customers these important updates through SMS as well as email and push notifications.”
The only personal information that is known to Remitly is the recipient’s phone number. “Whereas we can email and contact the sender via the app that they installed, the only way we can communicate with the recipients is through SMS. It costs a lot of money to make outbound calls to different countries, so SMS is the most scalable and efficient way to communicate with customers or their recipients.”
Vonage's Consistent High Quality of Customer Support
When Moiseff joined the team at Remitly two and a half years ago, he found that the Vonage account manager was incredibly helpful. He says that this high level of Vonage support has remained consistent in the years that have followed.
“Our original account manager was really great; super responsive. Anything he didn’t know he would reach out to his technical team and provide an answer within less than an hour in some cases.”
As both Remitly and Vonage grew, Moiseff remembers being concerned that he wouldn’t get the same level of support as the companies expanded, but his fears were quickly abated.
“Not only was there the same responsiveness and support, but also, our new account manager reviewed our current situation and found some opportunities to improve our transactions. We hadn’t had a lot of time to work at optimizing our SMS infrastructure and so, to have an account manager who could do that—someone who takes the time to proactively provide great suggestions, share insights and give us details of how we can troubleshoot on our end—that is awesome.”
"When we first started, we didn't have a lot of experience with customer communications and text messaging. The Vonage team was very helpful in getting things set up […] It was really easy to work with the APIs, easy to send messages, and easy to get technical support with any issues we experienced. That helped us initially when we first were getting started, but it's also been true throughout the subsequent years that we've used Vonage. Even today, I can send an email to Vonage support and get an answer within a couple of hours. That's a good experience."
NICK MOISEFF, Director of Products at Remitly