Friday June 16th 2017 is the International Day of Family Remittances.It celebrates how remittances make a positive difference to people’s lives. It is an occasion to acknowledge and celebrate the very significant financial role migrants play in improving the standards of living and spurring development back home.
To put things in perspective, there are currently around 244 million people living outside their country of birth. Collectively, the money they send home is a very significant source of funding.1
To mark the International Day of Family Remittances, We look back at the history of migrants, and how the remittance industry evolved to serve them.
Migration is not new
Migration is in the news these days, but it’s not a recent development at all.
Human beings have always been migratory. That’s how our race has spread to all corners of the world from its cradle in Africa.
At first, people moved to forage for food and to hunt – such as when they travelled north along the Nile and appeared on the Egyptian coast before heading to present-day Lebanon.2
Later in history, humans would move for economic opportunities. In the 18th and 19th century, seasonal migration – where workers go to another country every year and then return home – was common.3
The need to move money
With the movement of people came the need to move money back home. In the past, people would trade their money for goods and bring those essentials back home. Alternatively, they would change the money and bring it home themselves.
But soon, with more people migrating for work, there came the need to send money home relatively regularly. This led to a system of informal channels. People would use friends and family travelling back home to carry funds, or to buy goods. Later still, this evolved into a more complicated method of informal remittances, also called “hundi” where the funds would be submitted to somebody who would then arrange a money mule. Hundi was a remittance instrument that developed in Medieval India for use in business and credit transactions.
The birth of modern remittances
Modern remittance service providers were born out of human need – to transfer money to loved ones back home regularly, safely and with transparency. The first formal remittances were carried by telegram companies over 150 years ago.
Since, the sector has seen tremendous advancement, with global remittances now exceeding USD 600 billion4, and being carried professionally by a host of providers.
Modern remittance operators have totally redefined the way people moved money internationally. Xpress Money, for instance, has the capability to conduct real-time remittances in key markets – so that money can be picked up within minutes of being sent.
Innovation born out of human need
At Xpress Money, we believe we’re in the business of responding to human needs. Our remittance and money transfer solutions are designed to respond to these needs. We provide services to those that might otherwise be left out. We also understand that our migrant audiences make tremendous sacrifices to provide for their people back home. That is why we are constantly innovating new ways of pleasing, delighting, and giving back to our communities.
Today, instant Xpress Money transfers are available in 160 countries through 180,000 outlets and agents. We have created online and mobile platforms such as Xpress Money Online and XOPOTO that let customers send money on the go.
Meanwhile, our mobile wallet solutions in Kenya, Ghana and other countries, have harnessed the power of mobile to revolutionise how funds are received and spent. Xpress Money has also tied up with numerous banking partners to enable instant account credits in key markets to open up yet another convenient way of sending funds home.
And that’s before getting into the promotions, rewards schemes and loyalty programmes that we run throughout the year to say thank you to our migrant clients.
June 16th 2017 is when the world celebrates the International Day of Family Remittances. But for us at Xpress Money, every single day is a celebration of those ambitious men and women who leave their homes to seek better futures for themselves and their loved ones. We are here to serve and support in any way we can.