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Immigrant And Refugee Tech Platform Rebtel Secures $8M To Build Banking For The World’s Migrants

It takes a lot of courage to up and leave your country in search of a better life.

Regardless of whether the destination country is welcoming or hostile to immigrants, the immigration process can be a serious challenge. And even if everything runs smoothly—and, in the U.S., that’s an increasingly big if—the fact remains that immigrants still need to adjust to a new country while staying connected to friends and family back home.

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Rebtel is a Swedish company that provides a technology platform for migrants, and today it is announcing new funding to expand its suite of resources.

Magnus Larsson, CEO of Rebtel, explained to Crunchbase News that all immigrants face some version of the same three problems: “The first thing they want to do, when they arrive, is to call mom and other people back home. Next, especially in the U.S. [and other countries with weak social safety nets], they have to find a job. And for the money they earn, they need a way to bank and send money to family in their home country.”

And it’s for that latter service, accessible digital banking, that the company has secured capital to develop. Index Ventures and Balderton Capital opted to re-invest proceeds from the sale of Sinch—a company spun out of Rebtel which was sold for $8 million in 2014—back into Rebtel. Both Index and Balderton were prior investors in Rebtel’s $20 million Series A round, which was closed in 2006.

Rebtel is combining this $8 million from Index and Balderton with $8 million from its own cash reserves to create a $16 million capital pool through which the company intends to finance development of its digital banking product.

“When moving to a new country whether it be for work, love, or a new beginning, many migrants don’t have the credit or financial history to get up and running,” said Larsson. “With the addition of this service, we hope to ease the barriers to migrants success and help them prosper wherever they land.”

Rebtel already offers unlimited calling to 56 countries for $10 per month and an on-demand work platform to immigrants. The company currently serves over a million customers a month, is on track to do over $100 million in revenue in 2018, and employs over 85 full-time people representing more than 40 nationalities.

“Companies that are based on a diverse group of people are more successful. And Sweden is a small country. If you want to hire the best people in the world, you need to look all over the world for those people,” said Larsson.

Remarking on the state of affairs in America, he said, “As a Swede looking at the U.S., I find it fascinating that the debate over immigration even exists, because the country was built by immigrants.” He consistently described immigrants as being some of the most ambitious, entrepreneurial participants in the economy. “Sweden would gladly take Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs, or any of the other immigrants and asylum seekers that made the U.S. one of the best countries in the world.”

Update: Crunchbase News was informed of further details of the financing event, and the content of the fifth paragraph was changed accordingly. Additionally, the headline has been changed, replacing the word “raises” with “secures.”

Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias

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