SINGAPORE / TOKYO, JAPAN – 23 May 2022 – Global IT and fintech company Digital Wallet Group (DWG) today announced the launch of its Smiles Remittance application (Smiles) in Singapore. DWG’s subsidiary, Digital Wallet Singapore Pte Ltd, will manage the rollout and operations with local partner bank CIMB Bank Singapore. The initial outbound remittance corridors from Singapore are the Philippines and Indonesia, with Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India, among others, expected to be added by 2023.
Created by DWG’s subsidiary, Digital Wallet Corporation (DWC), Smiles is Japan’s first and most popular mobile remittance service providing a convenient and user-friendly mobile experience, low remittance fees, and 24/7 accessibility. The mobile app offers a simple, fast and transparent, six-step in-app remittance process. It also provides a range of payout options, including bank credits and cash pickup in thousands of locations globally, tailoring to local preferences and allowing greater flexibility without incurring extra cost. Besides English, Smiles offers language options in Tagalog and Bahasa Indonesia, with Vietnamese and Spanish in the pipeline.
Mr. Eiji Miyakawa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Digital Wallet Group, said, “The challenging circumstances from the global pandemic and geo-political tensions have impacted foreign workers worldwide struggling to take care of families back home. Our purpose is to support foreign workers and ensure the lifeline to their families is timely and convenient by providing a secure, round-the-clock mobile remittance channel. With the prevalent use of digital technology, Smiles offers another way for our customers to stay connected and have peace of mind. We are confident that the extension of our Smiles network to Singapore will benefit the foreign worker community and further support our continued expansion across the Asia Pacific.”
Smiles is a pioneer in redesigning international money transfer services with the latest technology, product design, and business model. The app was the first in Japan to introduce online identity verification (eKYC) using artificial intelligence to simplify and secure procedures. The same technology which processes transactions of 70 million users worldwide is also accessible as a digital customer management technology solution. White-labeled for clients in retail, mall operations, and consumer healthcare sectors, it uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to manage customer authentication, data analytics, and marketing automation.
Smiles has been on a global expansion journey since its launch in Japan in 2016, where it has built a loyal customer base among Filipinos working in the country and became the top mobile remittance service. Before arriving in Singapore, the Smiles app was released in Canada in February 2022. Smiles has also set up representative offices in Vietnam and the Philippines. In 2021, Smiles was awarded the Good Design Award in Japan and is the first and only remittance app to date to receive this esteemed accolade.
The introduction of the Smiles app in Singapore follows and complements DWG’s acquisition of RediMoney Express Pte Ltd (REPL) in August 2021, commencing the conversion process of its retail and app assets to Smiles. On 16 April 2022, the Philippine Ambassador to Singapore, H.E. Joseph del Mar Yap, graced the opening of the Smiles Studio @Orchard at Lucky Plaza. He also met with selected foreign workers in Singapore who were recognized for their long-term support of families back home by remitting consistently over an average of 20 years. The personal stories behind these long-time overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) exemplify the spirit of Smiles’ “Pride of OFW” campaign, a platform for personal stories of challenges and triumphs shared by OFWs.
The global pandemic has impacted the cross-border movement of foreign workers with lockdowns, border closures, travel restrictions, and curbs, which have severely affected in-bound labor mobility and movement restrictions on the foreign workers’ off days when they usually visit over-the-counter remittance services. However, mobile remittance applications like Smiles enable foreign workers to overcome such challenges and have full access to financial services to support families at home.
Data by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that cash remittances, which only include money transmitted through banks, grew 5.1 percent from the previous years to US$31.418 billion – a new high in 2021 due to an improving global economy amid the global pandemic. After the USA, Singapore was recognized as the second-largest source of remittance in 2021. It is also one of the lowest-cost corridors to the Philippines, averaging 3 percent. Conversely, corridors for remittances to areas in East Asia and the Pacific can go up to 13 percent.
Mr. Roland Pagdanganan, Managing Director, Digital Wallet Singapore, said, “I was drawn to Digital Wallet with its values of serving, caring, and giving back, which align with the values I instill in my own family. With the launch of Smiles in Singapore, I would like foreign workers to experience our innovative mobile remittance service, where the customer experience, service delivery, and community support are in our DNA. Additionally, a portion of our Singapore revenue will go towards Smiles donation campaigns to help organizations for disaster and humanitarian relief.”