Remittance is big business. According to the World Bank, expats sent $429 billion to developing countries in 20161, money many of the receivers rely on to maintain a reasonable standard of living. In the past, the banks and a couple of major players dominated the remittance industry, but the emergence of the next generation of financial technology- known as Fintech- levelled the playing field. This worked in the customers’ favour, as transferring money abroad has become:
Fintech has reduced the cost of remittance. According to the World Bank’s Remittance Prices Worldwide report, at the end of 2016 the global average cost of transferring money was 7.4% of the total transaction value, down from just under 10% in 2009. Analysis of the different channels explains why. Banks were the most expensive, charging nearly 11%, while money transfer businesses charged an average of 6.26%. However, with an average global cost of just 2%, Xpress Money is one of the most competitive remittance services in the industry.
Traditional forms of remittance are quite slow. Referring to the World Bank again, sending money from the United States to Kenya can take up to five days2. But transactions can happen instantly thanks to the evolution of money transfer businesses. When you send cash through an agent or from a mobile wallet, the receiver can access it immediately at the other end. Faster transactions can make all the difference, especially in times of emergency.
Fintech has increased the options when it comes to transferring money overseas. If you want to send cash, money transfer businesses tend to have extensive networks- Xpress Money has over 200,000 agents in 165 countries– meaning receivers rarely have to travel far to collect the money. Some agents even deliver it to the receiver’s home. Then there are digital channels like mobile wallets that allow you to transfer money from your mobile device. This means you can send it to someone without a bank account, as the receiver can make payments directly from the mobile wallet, for example to pay a utility bill.
Fintech firms are also collaborating with financial institutions to help them improve their offering. In the case of Xpress Money, we have partnered with WorldRemit. By plugging into our payment platform, WorldRemit offers our international transfer and direct account credit services to their customers.
By lowering the barriers to sending money abroad, you could say Fintech is helping to democratise the finance industry.
Written by Sudhesh Giriyan, COO, Xpress Money