Despite the global financial crisis and current global economic weakness, remittance flows are expected to continue growing, with global remittances expected to exceed $593 billion by 2014, of which $441 billion will flow to developing countries. Although costs have fallen steadily in recent years, reducing the cost of remittance transfers and payments produces significant benefits not only to the migrants and their families, but also to receiving countries.
Technology can play a pivotal role in offering payments to people who were previously unbanked. Branchless banking and banking partnerships with mobile operators can extend remittance services to millions of people in remote, rural areas. For example, in countries like the Philippines, G-Cash and SMART Money serve the Filipino diaspora by providing remittances over their mobile money platforms. Although the ability to receive or send money doesn’t guarantee financial inclusion, it is an important step in the right direction as it provides a cost-effective infrastructure for providing other financial services. In countries like Kenya, mobile money platforms are being used to design financial products which ride on the rails of this new payments infrastructure, and as a result are having a remarkable impact on financial inclusion.
A recent CGAP study found that a functioning domestic mobile money ecosystem needs to exist for users to see sufficient value in receiving their remittances over mobile. Additionally, further work is needed on the operational and regulatory challenges in offering cross-border remittances as flows continue to rise.
Topic Contact: Sarah Rotman
- Demand Study of Domestic Payments in the Philippines (Bankable Frontier Associates)
- Migration and Remittances during the Global Financial Crisis and Beyond (World Bank)
- Outlook for Remittance Flows 2012-14 (World Bank)
- Payment Systems Worldwide: a Snapshot. Outcomes of the Global Payment Systems Survey 2010 (World Bank)
- Remittance flows in 2011 – an update (World Bank)