On September 19th, Remitly’s first customer, Earl Golla, and his father Bert (also a customer), came by the Seattle headquarters to meet with the team and participate in a Q&A moderated by Matt Oppenheimer.
Many in the audience wanted to hear about Earl’s and Bert’s experiences using Remitly and how it has helped them over the years. We were also able to learn a lot about what we can do to make our services even better for our customers.
Earl shared that even though he is a generation removed from living in the Philippines, his support for Remitly came from seeing the labor his father would go through every time he needed to send money back to the Philippines.
What Matt was doing with Remitly made Earl see that there would be a big change to the industry, and it would likely make an impact on many people, like his father, in terms of making easier for people to provide financial support and assistance from overseas.
Changes in sending money abroad over the years
Earl’s father, Bert Golla, is a CPA in Washington state who moved from the Philippines with his wife, Josie, several decades ago and settled in Seattle to start their lives here. He began sending money back to the Philippines when he established the Bert & Josie Golla Foundation in 1985.
Through their foundation, they send money to the Philippines to help pay for students to go to school. He also sends money home to loved ones and community causes, such as helping with improvements in the local church.
“My heart is still in the Philippines,” Bert shared. “You can’t ignore that many need help.”
While Bert is actively involved in his community back home in the Philippines, he is also passionate about helping the overseas Filipino community in the United States. He was president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest for twelve years and actively involved with the Filipino Community of Seattle.
When asked what advice he could give to someone who is moving away from their home country for the first time, Bert said, “Find local resources and get connected with people from your home country. For example, I went to the Filipino Community of Seattle, which helped me with finding a job and navigating the systems here, like how to send money home.”
During the Meet & Greet, Bert talked about how sending money overseas has changed immensely since 1985 due to services like Remitly. It used to be an antiquated system that would take two to three days for the money to reach loved ones or students part of his foundation. But now, the communication between the transferee and the recipient can happen in minutes, with money being delivered in a fast, secure, and convenient fashion.
Learning from our customers
During the Q&A portion of our Meet & Greet, we gained valuable insight on how our longtime customers view Remitly’s services. Matt asked them the following questions on behalf of the team:
- Tell us about your first impressions of Remitly?
- What’s the worst experience you’ve had with Remitly?
- Have you ever used a competitor of ours? How were they different from us? What could we learn from your experience with them?
- Can you share another service that you trust and why?
- What product feature do you wish Remitly would build or provide?
- How could we convince offline senders to send for the first time?
When asked about their first impressions of Remitly, Bert was quite frank. “Of course, you have your doubts at first because it’s a new product. But it works fast and is secure, so I definitely trust it.” Earl also mentioned that most people are used to using Western Union or Xoom, hence why it can be scary at first to try a new product, but Remitly is now ranked highly on review sites and has proven to be trustworthy.
“There are a lot of questions that are asked by the security team, but I know it’s there for my protection.”
Bert then shared his worst experience with Remitly. While in the Philippines, he was trying to transfer money, but the security questions on Remitly requested him to use the CSV code on the back of his credit card, which he left in Seattle. While it was frustrating to not be able to send money at that moment, he got in contact with a customer service agent, who then quickly helped him out.
The biggest insight on helping our customers was provided when the team asked Bert and Earl about the features they’d love Remitly to see, and what we can do to build trust with communities.
“I wish there was a way to send money to a charitable cause through Remitly,” Earl shared. He thought this would be a great idea to engage non-customers to try out Remitly’s services, while also helping a worthy cause or giving to disaster relief funds.
Bert thinks it’d be nice to see Remitly engage more with the communities in the Philippines by partnering with vendors based in the Philippines, or by providing a type of reward or point system for making transfers. This way, locals in the Philippines would be inspired to talk to their family members living abroad about Remitly, especially if they see others getting rewards for using the services.
Another thought they had for engaging with new customers? “Go to more national or local events and show people how easy it is to use Remitly,” they recommended, as it’s the initial pain of learning a new system that often keeps people from trying something new.
We’re grateful that we had the opportunity to chat with Bert and Earl, as they provided invaluable suggestions for what we can do to serve our customers even more. Becoming an integral part of the local community is a great way for those communities to gain trust in us, and Bert and Earl’s pieces of advice will definitely help us think of more ways to develop that trust with our customers all over the world.