The money transfer and global remittance market is constantly eyeing out new developments that will enable consumers and corporates to transfer money faster, more effectively and more securely across countries and continents. With the explosion of mobile phone technology, particularly in the developing world, companies are now seeing this as a potential avenue through which to transfer money to friends and relatives overseas, particularly those in rural locations.
International money transfer comparison website www.sendmoneyhome.org has collaborated with money transfer software systems provider RemitONE (www.remitone.co.uk) to investigate the scope and the potential of the mobile money market and to find out how increasing numbers of money transfer businesses are opting to develop these channels. RemitONE is the worldâs leading provider of software systems for the money transfer markets, providing companies access to the latest cutting edge remittance platforms. SendMoneyHome has been hailed as the âbenchmarkâ money transfer comparison site by Martin Lewis (www.moneysavingexpert.com) and allows its 50,000 monthly visitors to compare costs, and find the best deal, when sending money overseas.
Ever since Safaricom introduced the M-Pesa mobile platform three years ago, ‘mobile money’ has been breaking new grounds in the Kenyan market. Originally it substituted the more formal remittance channels by stretching banking operations to remote territories and now, figures coming out of Kenya suggest, those using their phones for financial transactions far exceeds those who own a credit card.
The targets for this mobile market have mainly been focused on Africa so far, with a great deal of success. Many companies now exist servicing corridors to the African market but there is a far wider scope up for grabs in the global marketplace. The remittance market as a whole is estimated to be worth over $350 billion annually, according to the World Bank, with the USA being the largest remitting country. Only a small percentage, focused on Africa, is serviced by mobile remittance meaning that a large portion of the market is available to tap into, especially in the Middle East and South Asia.
According to Bangladesh’s Expatriate Welfare Minister Mr. Khondker Mosharraf Hossain, the World Bank would support Bangladesh’s effort to introduce remittance transfer through mobile phones in order to make the delivery faster and cheaper. In order to help reduce the high remittance transfer costs that leading Money Transfer Organisations (MTOs) and banks charge the struggling migrant workers sending money back home to families, the World Bank has agreed to provide financial assistance to Bangladesh in setting up a mobile remittance system whereby the recipient can be sent an SMS on his/her mobile phone which he/she can then cash at specially designed Automated Teller Machines.
RemitONE has recently launched its Mobile Remittance Module (MRM) which allows banks, MTOs, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) to offer their customers mobile based money transfer services. An established player in the global remittance industry, RemitONE has clients ranging from small to medium MTOs to large private and government banks. RemitONE’s flagship product, the RemitONE Money Transfer Management Solution (MTMS) provides a sophisticated feature-rich and highly reliable remittance management solution that enables banks and MTOs to carry out their daily business operations in an extremely effective and efficient manner.
With the success of the Kenyan model and lucrative opportunities across both the developed and developing world, RemitONE is now focusing its efforts on rolling out the Mobile Remittance Module this year across a number of markets.
Aamer Abedi, Director of Marketing, RemitONE states:
âOur Mobile Remittance Module enables organisations to offer their customers the facility to send money via SMS on their mobile phones. We are receiving a rapidly increasing number of inquiries from North America and Africa regarding MRM. Although we are expecting mobile remittance to really gather momentum this year, the success of the rate of adoption of this service will vary from region to region.â
The global remittance market represents a key source of income for many people across the world. The strategy for RemitONE’s expansion is to target the North American and Middle Eastern markets. The USA is the world’s largest global remitter due to a high migrant population and in Saudi Arabia alone the remittance flowing out of the country is worth over $20 billion. For example www.sendmoneyhome.org has recently seen the addition of two companies, Provident Capital Transfers and Mukuru, who specialise in providing mobile and SMS remittance to various countries across Africa and South East Asia.
The ability to send remittances from one mobile to another is very much a growth industry and is bound to surge over the next year. Small figures will be capable of being sent quickly and securely to either bank accounts or via home delivery and cash pick up points allowing easier access to remittances on both sides of the market. Furthermore big retail companies such as Tesco are now looking to enter the money transfer industry and will be keeping a keen eye on future developments, especially technological innovations.
For example, a migrant Filipino worker is likely to already be in contact with his relatives overseas via a mobile phone. Now he has the ability to send remittances home easily and conveniently regardless of his or his family’s location. It is these technological developments that are likely to attract the likes of Tesco to RemitONE’s software capabilities. And, it is through these developments that the remittance market will continue to grow and become more efficient.
A key challenge and concern for MTOs wishing to offer mobile remittance services to customers is ensuring Anti-money Laundering (AML) compliance. The RemitONE MRM addresses this by checking remitter and beneficiary profiles against blacklists released by the likes of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and others. Both RemitONE and SendMoneyHome are determined to ensure that the market is vetted thoroughly and that all money transfer companies and customers adhere to the necessary regulations when sending money overseas to ensure the safety and security of the customers’ monies.
Customers are becoming increasingly busy in their everyday lives. People prefer to shop and manage their finances and make payments online or by mobile phone. Hence, the amazing growth of Internet and mobile commerce, particularly in Europe and North America. Behaviour and attitudes are changing even amongst the immigrant communities from underprivileged backgrounds. Furthermore another key concern is meeting KYC regulations of the region the MTO is operating in. For example the mobile phone user can be asked by the MTO to register with them face to face for the first time the user wants to make use of the service. Thereafter, the user does not need to see the MTO and he can do his transactions over the phone. This will enable users the freedom to use the service with no restrictions allowing a more efficient flow of remittances.
Mr Anwar Saleem, MD, RemitONE says that,
âBig markets such as China, India, Kenya and Nigeria have more people with mobile phones than bank accounts. Irrespective of where you are, there is an increasing reliance on the Web and Mobile technologies across various public and private sectors around the globe.â
The use and popularity of using a mobile phone to provide remittance has also caught the eye of figures at the highest levels of government. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), an independent microfinance centre based at the World Bank, has partnered with the UK Governmentâs Department for International Development (DFID) to enhance efforts to use mobile phones and other technologies to increase access to basic financial services for the poor. DFID, with help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will provide Â£8 million to the CGAP Technology Program.
These new developments further give weight to the prospect of mobile remittances rapidly becoming a reality in most parts of the world, with North Africa and SE Asia leading the way.
The growth in the mobile remittance sector is likely to continue into the future, a growth that RemitONE is very much in position to capitalise on. Convenience rules, and there is nothing more convenient than a customerâs mobile phone that is carried around and enables access to emails, the internet, music, television, satellite navigation and, now it seems, sending money abroad.