The Cost of Global Remittances

Date: 3 Sep 2014 Comments: 0

According to a recent report by The World Bank (“Migration and Remittance Flows: Recent Trends and Outlook, 2013-2016”, October 2 2013), officially recorded remittance flows solely to developing countries are expected to increase by 6.3 percent to reach $414 billion in 2013.

The report states that “Remittances are now nearly three times the size of official development assistance and larger than private debt and portfolio equity flows to developing countries. They exceed the foreign exchange reserves in at least 14 developing countries, and are equivalent to least half of the level of reserves in more than over 26 developing countries. As many emerging markets are facing a weakening balance of payments, the importance of remittances as a source of foreign currency earnings is increasing.”

The importance of overseas remittances has been recognized by the G20, who made a commitment at the Cannes Summit in November 2011 as follows: “We will work to reduce the average cost of transferring remittances from 10 per cent to 5 per cent by 2014, contributing to release an additional 15 billion USD per year for recipient families.”

And yet, at the same time increasing barriers are being encountered for sending and receiving remittances, with a consequent increase in costs. According to a report from the Global Remittances Working Group of the World Bank (“Barriers to Access to Payment Systems in Sending Countries and Proposed Solutions, Special-Purpose Note”. Global Remittances Working Group, The World Bank Group 2013), the current average cost for sending $200 by bank is 13.54%, compared to 6.92% for MTOs; but the withdrawal of banking services from MTOs in many countries, nominally due to concerns over risk of insufficient safeguards in the areas of Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT) has effectively reduced the options available for those seeking to provide person-to-person remittances, especially for the unbanked.

These conflicting factors are causing confusion and hardship in many developing countries, particularly in south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

At RTpay, we believe that it is both possible and desirable to ensure that a secure, reliable and safe global remittance system can be offered at zero cost to both the sender and the recipient. This would form part of the wider ZCP program in which governments, businesses and individuals in whatever country can use our electronic payments system to make and receive payments, purchase goods and transfer funds to an ‘electronic wallet’ with no transaction fees.

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