U.S. payments startup backed by Amazon founder expands to UK

FILE PHOTO: Noe Sanchez shows off the Remitly app that he uses to send money to his family in Mexico in this photo taken in San Francisco, California March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. payments startup Remitly has launched services in Britain, expanding its international footprint to a third country from which users can send money abroad, the Seattle-based firm told Reuters on Tuesday.

The digital money transfer service, backed by founder Jeff Bezos, sends more than $2 billion in remittances annually to India, the Phillipines, Mexico and other Latin American countries for users based in the United States and Canada.

Customers in Britain will be able to use Remitly’s desktop and mobile app, and will initially be able to send money to India and the Philippines.

Remitly’s UK launch will see it join local competitors such as Transferwise and Azimo in the digital remittance industry, which is quickly eating into the businesses of costlier, traditional services typically offered by banks and “bricks-and-mortar” organizations such as Western Union and Moneygram.

“Europe as a continent is the second largest remittance-sending geography, so there’s a lot of opportunity around here,” Remitly CEO Matt Oppenheimer told Reuters.

“Over 19 billion pounds in remittances are sent from the UK and launching here is a natural next step for us as we expand across the globe,” he said.

Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; Editing by Mark Potter