Remittances and payments

In traditional banks payment services include cheque cashing and cheque writing privileges for customers who maintain deposits. Payment services also include the transfer and remittance of funds from one area to another. There has been a great increase in people migrating to find work in recent years and it is becoming clear that a significant portion of the subsequent remittance flows go to poor and low income families in rural areas. Thus microfinance institutions, rural based banks and credit unions are all looking at money transfer services as a potential part of their business.

Library Resources

resource title type year resource
Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development 2018 Asia-Pacific - Outcomes Conference Proceedings 2018

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A set of specific priorities and actionable outcomes resulted from the GFRID 2018. These are directly linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. 

Publisher International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Number of Pages 12 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Asia
Keywords Remittances, Investments, Financial Inclusion
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Market barriers to remittances in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) - Volume 2 2018

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This note is the second in a series of seven notes that explore the supply-side barriers to remittances in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Currently, the average cost of remittances to SSA is 9.4% of the value of the transaction, compared to the global average of 7.1%. Informal flows are rife, especially in SSA, and the trend is increasing in many corridors. The relatively low formal penetration compared to informal flows coupled with the high cost of remittances are indicative of a formal market that is not functioning optimally to serve people’s needs. To reduce the cost to between 3% and 5% of the transaction value as agreed by the G20 and Sustainable Development Goals without compromising the access of consumers in hard-to-reach areas, there needs to be an understanding of the current market impediments that are preventing formal costs from decreasing. This includes an understanding of both informal and formal flows and the various barriers that constrain the formal market. This series seeks to provide an overview of the remittances market in SSA, the gaps and the barriers, to conclude on what is required to enable the formal market to fulfil its true potential.

RemitSCOPE - Remittance markets and opportunities Asia and the Pacific Paper 2018

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RemitSCOPE, a new website portalis designed to provide data, analyses and remittance- market1 profiles on individual countries or areas. In coordination with the Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development 2018, RemitSCOPE is being launched to provide market profiles for 50 countries or areas in the Asia and the Pacific region. The additional four regions will be included gradually: Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Near East and the Caucasus.

RemitSCOPE intends to address the fast-changing market realities in the remittance industry in order to help bring together the goals of remittance families, as clients, and the strategies of the private-sector service providers.

RemitSCOPE is designed as a free, one-stop shop that is available to any organization or entity interested in accessing all relevant public information on remittances.

This information can help users spot gaps in the marketplace, attain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that each country offers, help develop business cases, profile best practices and provide contrasting examples of regulatory environments.

RemitSCOPE aims to provide information to a range of remittance industry stakeholders, as follows:

  • For existing remittance service providers: Fintech entrepreneurs, potential new market entrants and other private-sector organizations, RemitSCOPE aspires to become a ready tool and reference point for decision-making purposes.
  • For regulators: RemitSCOPE seeks to highlight comparative best practices along with a better understanding of opportunities and challenges for each country in order to support financial inclusion.

    By providing information to private and public decision makers, RemitSCOPE ultimately targets the remittance senders and receivers (who perform almost 1 billion separate transactions in Asia and the Pacific annually) for RemitSCOPE can contribute to make remittance flows cheaper, faster, safer and more convenient, particularly for untapped and non-competitive low-volume corridors reaching into rural areas.

The African Postal Financial Services Initiative: A success story on remittances at the post office in Africa Report 2018

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The report presents an overview of the results achieved by APFSI (African Postal Financial Services Initiative) as related to its specific objectives in: reducing the cost of remittances to and within Africa; reducing transaction times for remittances to and within Africa; broadening the network of rural locations where remittances can be picked up; and deepening the range of financial services provided in rural areas.

Author Hans Boon; Mauro Martini
Publisher International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Number of Pages 40 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Africa
Keywords Remittances and Payments, Financial Services
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Migration and Remittances - Recent Developments and Outlook: Transit Migration Paper 2018

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This Migration and Development Brief reports global trends in migration and remittance flows, as well as developments related to the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators for volume of remittances as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) (SDG indicator 17.3.2), reducing remittance costs (SDG indicator 10.c.1) and recruitment costs (SDG indicator 10.7.1). This Brief has a special focus on transit migration.

Author D. Ratha, S. Plaza, S. De, K. Schuettler, G. Seshan, N.D. Yameogo & E.J. Kim
Publisher World Bank Group
Number of Pages 51 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Remittances, Access To Finance
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Migration and Remittances: Recent Developments and Outlook Paper 2017 English (en)

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This Migration and Development Brief provides an update on worldwide remittance flows and the global migration crisis. It focuses on two Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators: reducing remittance costs, and reducing recruitment costs for low-skilled migrants. In September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly Summit on “Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” committed to develop two global compacts: a Global Compact on Refugees, and a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. Negotiations on both compacts are expected to continue through 2017, with final adoption expected at a United Nations international conference in 2018. The Brief reports on progress in the preparation of the global compacts, with an expanded discussion of the Global Compact on Migration.

Migration and Remittances: Recent Developments and Outlook  -  English (en)

La población receptora de remesas en El Salvador - Un análisis de sus características socioeconómicas Case Study 2016 Spanish (es)

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Esta nota analítica presenta los resultados de un análisis cuantitativo de los perfiles socioeconómicos de los beneficiarios de remesas internacionales en El Salvador. El análisis se basa en datos de la Encuesta de Hogares de Propósitos Múltiples del año 2013, realizada por el Ministerio de Economía de El Salvador, a través de la Dirección General de Estadística y Censos (DIGESTYC). La encuesta consiste en una muestra de 21.086 hogares (81.865 individuos) y tiene representatividad a nivel total país, total país urbano, total país rural, Área Metropolitana de San Salvador, departamental y de los 50 municipios más grandes del país. Los altos estándares cumplidos en el diseño y la ejecución de la EHPM permiten analizar a los beneficiarios de remesas con un alto nivel de desagregación, así como realizar comparaciones fiables de las características de este grupo de personas con las de la población salvadoreña en general. Este análisis se realizó utilizando los datos de la EHPM incluidos en las Bases de Datos Armonizadas de Encuestas a Hogares de América Latina y el Caribe del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (también conocidas como Sociómetro-BID).

Link del informe  -  Spanish (es)

La población receptora de remesas en Guatemala - Un análisis de sus características socioeconómicas Case Study 2016 Spanish (es)

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Esta nota analítica presenta los resultados de un análisis cuantitativo de los perfiles socioeconómicos de los beneficiarios de remesas internacionales en Guatemala. El análisis se basa en datos de la Encuesta de Condiciones de Vida (ENCOVI) del año 2014, realizada por el Instituto Nacional de Estadística de la República de Guatemala. La encuesta consiste en una muestra de 11.536 hogares (54.822 individuos) y es representativa a nivel total país, total país urbano, y total país rural, y todos los departamentos de Guatemala. Los altos estándares cumplidos en el diseño y la ejecución de la ENCOVI permiten analizar a los beneficiarios de remesas con un alto nivel de desagregación, así como realizar comparaciones fiables de las características de este grupo de personas con las de la población guatemalteca en general. Este análisis se realizó utilizando los datos de la ENCOVI incluidos en las Bases de Datos Armonizadas de Encuestas a Hogares de América Latina y el Caribe del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (también conocidas como Sociómetro-BID).

Link del informe  -  Spanish (es)

La población receptora de remesas en Honduras - Un análisis de sus características socioeconómicas Case Study 2016 Spanish (es)

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Esta nota analítica presenta los resultados de un análisis cuantitativo de los perfiles socioeconómicos de los beneficiarios de remesas internacionales en Honduras. El análisis se basa en datos de la Encuesta Permanente de Hogares de Propósitos Múltiples (EPHPM) del año 2014, realizada por el Instituto Nacional de Estadística de la República de Honduras. La encuesta consiste en una muestra de 5.593 hogares (24.023 individuos) y es representativa a nivel total país, total país urbano, y total país rural, menos los departamentos de Gracias a Dios e Islas de la Bahía. Los altos estándares cumplidos en el diseño y la ejecución de la EPHPM permiten analizar a los beneficiarios de remesas con un alto nivel de desagregación, así como realizar comparaciones fiables de las características de este grupo de personas con las de la población hondureña en general. Este análisis se realizó utilizando los datos de la EPHPM incluidos en las Bases de Datos Armonizadas de Encuestas a Hogares de América Latina y el Caribe del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (también conocidas como Sociómetro-BID).

Link del informe  -  Spanish (es)

Remesas que se transforman en inversiones y ahorro - La trayectoria de Bancolombia y la inclusión nanciera de las familias receptoras de remesas en Colombia Report 2016 French (fr)

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Bancolombia empezó a trabajar en el negocio de remesas en 2004 con una visión de producto enfocada en lograr una participación importante en el pago de remesas en el país. Este enfoque se ha transformado, durante la trayectoria del banco en este negocio, hacia una visión más global e integral que promueve y facilita la inclusión financiera del receptor de remesas y de su familia inmigrante residente en el exterior.

El banco pone en marcha esta visión creando un entorno, o un ecosistema de productos y servicios, que promueve la inclusión financiera de estos clientes, y que busca canalizar las remesas hacia los sueños y metas de inversión y ahorro que acompañan el envío de estos flujos de dinero. El objetivo de esta estrategia es lograr que estos fondos contribuyan a mejorar la calidad de vida de las familias que reciben remesas en el país y de los colombianos residentes en el exterior.

Hoy en día, Bancolombia cuenta con una propuesta de valor para cada uno de estos dos segmentos con los que trabaja, receptores de remesas e inmigrantes colombianos. La institución también ha logrado establecer alianzas sólidas en este negocio y cuenta con una estrategia comercial efectiva.

Sus principales resultados incluyen la bancarización del 54% de sus clientes receptores de remesas. El banco estima que alrededor de 200.000 clientes, en promedio, usan mensualmente el abono automático de la remesa en su cuenta. Bancolombia también logró abrir cuentas de ahorro a más de 98.000 colombianos residentes en el exterior y ha otorgado más de 9.000 créditos de vivienda a estos clientes. Así, Bancolombia se posiciona hoy como el principal pagador de remesas en el país.

Este estudio de caso empieza con un relato de las circunstancias que llevan a Bancolombia a desarrollar estas estrategias de inclusión financiera. El estudio describe también cómo estas estrategias fueron implementadas y los principales resultados obtenidos.

El reporte termina con la perspectiva de Bancolombia para el futuro y describe los retos y oportunidades que el banco observa en el mercado de remesas.

El Programa Remesas y Ahorros del Fondo Multilateral de Inversiones (FOMIN), miembro del Grupo Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), financió este estudio de caso con el objetivo de captar y diseminar los principales aprendizajes de estrategias de negocio exitosas como las de Bancolombia en el negocio de remesas. El programa busca compartir esta información con actores en la industria de las remesas, como son los intermediarios financieros, operadores de transferencia de dinero y otros, para así generar un impacto catalizador a nivel de la industria.

Link de la revista  -  French (fr)

The Use of Remittances and Financial Inclusion Report 2015

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This report provides an overview of the nexus between remittances and financial inclusion with the objective to improve the understanding of the impact of remittance market policies and the interventions both nationally and globally on the levels of financial inclusion. This report is also an overview of the relevant general trends in leveraging remittances as a means to enhance financial inclusion, and underscores the importance of maximizing the economic impact of remittances towards sustainable development. The report defines an analytical framework for understanding the instrumental role of remittances as a means to foster financial inclusion. The main issues, policies, and interventions, as well as selected case studies, are presented from three perspectives: a client centric perspective; a supply side and market competition perspective and the regulatory framework and market environment.

Author he International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank Group to the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion
Publisher The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Rome, Italy
Number of Pages 64 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Remittances, Financial Inclusion
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Financing facility for remittances publications webpage Document 2015 English (en)

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This is the IFAD's web page dedicated to "Financing facility for remittances". Please click on the link below to read and download the publications.

Remittances publications  -  English (en)

Remittances, growth and poverty. New evidence from Asian countries Paper 2012

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The present study re-examines the effects of remittances on the growth of GDP per capita using annual panel data for 24 Asia/Pacific countries. The results generally confirm that remittance flows have been beneficial to economic growth. However, our analysis also shows that the volatility of capital inflows such as remittances and foreign direct investment is harmful to economic growth. In other words, while remittances contribute to better economic performance, they are also a source of output shocks. Finally, remittances contribute to poverty reduction – especially through their direct effects. Migration and remittances are thus potentially a valuable complement to broad-based development efforts.

Author Imai, K.S; Gaiha, R.; Ali, A.; Kaicker, N.
Publisher IFAD
Rome, Italy
Number of Pages 40 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global, Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Asia, South-eastern Asia, Southern Asia, Western Asia
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Financing Facility for Remittances Article 2009

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The FFR Update, is a quarterly newsletter aimed at providing the latest information on the activities of the Financing Facility for Remittances to its donors, partners and other interested remittance stakeholders.

The Global Forum on Remittances 2009 was held in Tunis on 22-23 October. The conference brought new attention to the importance of remittances to Africa, the continent that has the potential to benefit most from increased competition, enhanced regulation and the adoption of new technologies.

These topics, among others, were discussed and summarized in 6 recommendations that were formulated by the 240 Forum participants representing the private and public sectors, as well as civil society groups and international institutions.

Author IFAD
Number of Pages 4 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
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Serving Migrants Sustainably: A Case Study of Remittance Services Provided by a Microfinance Institution in India Article 2006

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This short note points out that the focus of the growing attention being given to money transfer services as a potential opportunity for microfinance institutions (MFIs) has been on cross-border remittances. Yet it also points out that in most countries, the number of domestic migrants far outnumber those who migrate abroad, and that the volume of domestic remittances equals if not exceeds that of international remittances.

The note also highlights that internal labour migration has a long history in India, and is probably increasing with differential rates of growth in different states and pocket within states. Domestic migrants also tend to come disproportionately from the poorest income groups and areas as well as disproportionately from areas that banks have not penetrated. The note argues, therefore, that much more action research is needed on how MFIs can viably broaden their portfolio of services by providing remittance services to domestic migrants.

This note discusses the early experience from a pilot project in Gujarat in India. In doing so, it includes a useful summary table which sets out the relative advantages of different modes of remitting money – Banks, Post Office, Private, Hand-Carry and Shramik Sahajog. These are assessed with respect to access, convenience, risk, speed, cost and share.

In the conclusion, the note suggests two requirements to enable MFIs to meet the needs of domestic migrants. Firstly, there should be a critical minimum number of migrants in the place of migration destination from a particular place of origin. The other requirement noted, is that the MFI should be willing to charge a cost recovering service charge, since there is no social justification for subsidising MFI remittances in the absence of the universal service obligations that the post-office assumes.

Author Ghate, P
Publisher Asian Development Bank
Number of Pages 5 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
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Remittances: ICICI Builds Technology-Based Financial Literacy Services and Remittances Products for Rural Markets Article 2005

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This brief article describes the experience of ICICI Bank in relations to its innovative approach in providing remittance services. ICICI has discovered that, in India, there is a large untapped rural market which lacks awareness of financial services as well as convenient access to remittance delivery services. To service this market, ICICI faced two challenges: first, designing a tailored product specific to these customers and, second, providing them with easy access to funds. To address the needs of the rural population, ICICI decided to pilot a rural remittance product.

This article begins by providing background to the pilot project and then discusses the different phases of the scheme. Phase 1 covered designing and simplifying access via technology through the use of ATMs and Cash Agent Model. Phase 2 then covered designing the products. Finally, phase 3 covered financial literacy, marketing and launching the pilot product.

The final sections provide a brief discussion on the challenges and opportunities, the implications for institutions offering microfinance services, the future plans of ICICI, and the impact of the innovation on businesses.

Author World Women's Banking (WWB)
Publisher WWB
Number of Pages 4 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
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Crafting a Money Transfers Strategy: Guidance for Pro-Poor Financial Service Providers Paper 2005

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This paper begins by noting that as more data becomes available on cross-border remittances these financial flows are attracting greater attention from the private sector, governments, and development agencies alike. Although not all money transfers are captured in official statistics, formal remittances nevertheless constitute the second largest source of external funding for developing countries, ahead of both capital market flows and official development assistance. Remittances are qualitatively different from other sources of development finance in that they are both relatively stable and counter-cyclical in nature, since migrants tend to remit more during periods of economic downturn in their home countries. Because remittances represent private money sent person-to-person, they benefit the poor directly and as poor people determine they need it - on demand.

Furthermore, the paper suggests that financial service providers that cater to the poor have been drawn to the money transfer market because it offers them the opportunity to fulfil their financial goals as well as their social objectives. As a fee-based product, money transfers can generate revenues and bolster an FSP’s bottom line. From a social perspective, money transfers allow FSPs to deliver an additional service demanded by poor customers, at a cost potentially lower than that of mainstream providers.

This paper explores the operational and strategic considerations involved in launching a money transfer product. The first section begins with an overview of global money transfers, including the overall size and structure of the industry and the differences between its different segments - cross-border and domestic, formal and informal, retail and wholesale. The second section describes the main types of transmission channels used to transfer funds, the types of providers traditionally associated with these channels, partnerships between these providers, and new customer interfaces being used to make money transfers cheaper and more convenient for clients. Finally, the third section explores how a pro-poor FSP might begin to build a money transfers strategy, considering factors such as client preferences, regulation, competition, institutional capacity, financial analysis, and marketing.

Author Isern, J, Deshpande R, and van Doorn, J
Publisher CGAP
Number of Pages 28 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
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A Technical Guide to Remittances: The Credit Union Experience Article 2004

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The scale, growth and importance of remittances to developing countries cannot be understated. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates that $32 billion in remittances was sent to the LAC region in 2002, and it represents "the single most valuable source of new capital for Latin America and the Caribbean.... more important for the region's economic and social development than foreign direct investment, portfolio investment, foreign aid or government and private borrowing" (Inter-American Dialogue, 2004).

This World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Technical Guide provides a useful introduction to the methods of how money crosses international borders, such as cash-based electronic transfers, card-based transfers, informal mechanisms and account-to-account wire transfers. It discusses the current operating environment for remittances, provides an overview of WOCCU's International Remittance Network (IRnet) and details how WOCCU has facilitated mass remittance distribution through credit unions by partnering with money transfer operators (MTOs). This system enjoys the advantages of both the credit unions' proximity to clients in the receiving countries and the MTO's transferring experience and dense network in the sending countries.

The entrance of credit unions and commercial banks into the remittance market has put pressure on MTOs to lower prices and become more competitive. Receiving institutions are seeing the potential of attracting unbanked clients as credit union members and future savers, borrowers and insurance policyholders. For example, some initiatives are underway in both Mexico and Nicaragua to develop remittance-related savings and credit products that will provide receivers with additional financial service options.

The Guide stresses a number of critical factors that affect the success of the remittance service operations and provides a number of illustrative case studies. The success factors include:

  • the number and location of points of service in both the sending and receiving countries
  • the quality and security of service and
  • the need to comply with government legislation on control of illicit money transfers and money laundering.

Finally, the Guide looks at the future of remittance transfers and the task ahead, in particular, the need to extend the outreach and improve the shared branching network of credit unions in order to continue the provision of low-cost remittance services.

Author Evans, A.C.; Klaehn, J.
Publisher World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU)
Number of Pages 18 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
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Worker’s Remittances and Microfinance: the neglected nexus Article 2003

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The purpose of this note is to highlight the nexus between workers’ remittances and microfinance and thereby encourage microfinance institutions (MFIs) and those who support microfinance development to explore business opportunities that would contribute to both the social mission and sustainability of MFIs.

While workers’ remittances have been widely discussed by development economists, policymakers and others interested in economic and social development, the significance of workers’ remittances for microfinance development and poverty reduction has received only scant attention. The author has compiled a list of recent developments that seem to be changing the way remittances are viewed in the face of microfinance. These include:

  • The increase in the flow of migration and recognition of the low-income level of the families who receive remittances;
  • The increase in use of formal rather than informal channels due to international efforts to curb money laundering;
  • The increasing involvement of formal financial institutions in microfinance;
  • and an increased number of studies by international development organisations that examine that linkages between microfinance and remittances.

The author provides examples of MFIs that have already begun to perform money transfers, to mobilise savings on the basis of remittances and to provide microcredit based on remittances. The International Remittance Network (IRnet), developed by WOCCU and the New York-based VIGO Remittance Corporation, is highlighted for its innovative service, efficiency and competitive pricing. Some of the credit unions involved in the network have found that those who receive remittances through these credit unions often open accounts with them for the first time.

The author sees a win-win situation for remittance business by MFIs. For example, encouraging remittance recipients to invest a portion of their inflow in financial assets provides them with safety, reasonable returns, liquidity and a greater capacity to leverage funds. MFIs themselves can use remittances to leverage more funds in the commercial markets to finance their growing lending operations. This will enable the MFIs to not only diversify their funding sources but also increase the breadth and depth of their outreach, thus contributing to both their social mission and sustainability.

Author Fernando, Nimal A.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Related Resources
Making the best of Globalisation: Migrant Worker Remittances and Micro-Finance Report 2000

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In the context of globalisation, evidence suggests that remittance flows are likely to grow with migration. It is estimated that official remittance flows amount to about 73 billion dollars per year, which in some countries exceed foreign aid. Put to a productive use, these remittance flows can have a positive impact on the economy of migrants’ country of origin. To stimulate international debate on the key issues, the ILO’s Social Finance Program held a project planning meeting entitled: Migrant Worker Remittances and Microfinance in the Context of Globalization. This workshop report summarises the main findings from a series of case studies presented, compiles lessons learned from some of the actors already involved in remittance transfers and proposes recommendations for future international follow-up.

There was a general agreement that Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) were well placed to handle transfer payment due to their proximity to remittance-receiving families, their potential to reach out to poor communities, and their likely capacity to produce positive returns on investment. MFIs appear to be well suited to capture and transform remittances as they deal with small-scale transactions where personal relations are important, they extensively involve groups and associations of intermediaries and they integrate the formal and the informal sector practices. Emerging best practices for MFIs include:

  • The importance of a clearly defined social mission and a business-like approach to remittance provision
  • Maintaining a high number of selling points (to facilitate the growth of transfers)
  • Increasing competition
  • Offering a wide range of products (to encourage cross-selling)
  • Establishing networks and partnerships among MFIs and other organisations in order to benefit from advantages of scale and information

The workshop concluded that the role of governments should be to observe, create an inventive-based regulatory framework and possibly provide matching funds to spur local community development. Most importantly the workshop participants suggested that governments, workers organisations and financial institutions should look to supplying more clear and concise information to migrants on the range of transfer options available.

Author ILO
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
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