Seattle startup Beamit Mobile has raised $2.4 million in fresh financing from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, Founder’s Co-op and Bezos Expeditions, the venture capital firm of Jeff Bezos. The money will be used to continue development of the company’s technology, which allows immigrants to transfer money to mobile phones in developing countries.
“These investors share our vision of enabling a faster, less expensive and far more convenient way for sending money across borders,” said founder Matt Oppenheimer who came up with the idea while overseeing mobile and Internet banking for Barclays Bank Kenya.
“Many Kenyans received money in an old and antiquated way using a cash-based system on both ends but it was an expensive and a painful customer experience,” says Oppenheimer. “I knew that there was the opportunity to leverage digital channels, including mobile phones, to improve the lives of our customers.”
Oppenheimer returned to the U.S. in May 2011, later landing a coveted spot in the TechStars Seattle program. Last October, Beamit recruited Josh Hug — a Seattle entrepreneur who previously sold online book social network Shelfari to Amazon.com and his mentor at TechStars — as chief product officer.
The new round of funding includes a $750,000 convertible note, which we previously reported on here. Beamit is currently testing its technology with a small number of customers who can transfer money from the U.S. to the Philippines.
The market for money transfers is a big one, with Oppenheimer noting that the World Bank estimates that $350 billion of remittances are transferred each year with an average cost of more than $27. It’s primary competitor is Xoom.