Digicel dials in to $9bn international diaspora market
Digicel, the Caribbean-based mobile operator owned by businessman Denis O'Brien, has tapped into immigrant communities in the US and UK to generate $128m (€114m) in annual revenue by allowing them to top up relatives' mobile phone accounts back home.
Digicel said that its so-called Diaspora community targets a population of 10 million emigrants living in countries across the world who remit a total of about $9bn to their home countries every year.
"By marketing directly to this diaspora, Digicel can drive international calling and allow these communities to 'gift' top-up to people in their markets," according to the company in its stock market flotation prospectus.
Digicel said that in order to develop its Diaspora product, it established a team in Miami, and also marketing presences in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Canada.
"Digicel estimates that its Diaspora business currently has a presence in over 27,000 retail stores across the countries where it operates," it told potential investors.
"In addition, the Digicel Diaspora top-up app has been downloaded 445,000 times."
The company pointed out that the US has a large immigrant community of Jamaicans and Haitians, while there's also a large Jamaican community in the UK.
In 2012, there were 606,000 Haitians living in the United States and 715,000 Jamaicans.
The amount of revenue generated by Digicel's Diaspora programme has soared since it was launched in 2009.
In Digicel's 2010 financial year, it produced $26m in revenue and the latest full-year revenue figure represents a compound annual growth rate of 37.5pc.
For the three months ended in June, the value of recharge or top-up from the Diaspora business rose to $36m from $31m in the corresponding period in 2014.
Earlier this week, Digicel named the expected price range for shares it plans to sell on the New York Stock Exchange.
The initial public offering will raise between $1.8bn and $2bn and give Digicel an enterprise value, which includes debt, of nearly $10bn (€9bn).