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Friday, June 1, 2007

Big Pie of the Remittance Cake

Thousands of Filipino workers in Malaysia can now remit money to their families back home under a new mobile phone money transfer service unveiled by Malaysia's top mobile phone operator Maxis.In a statement late Wednesday, Maxis said it has tied up with the Philippines' Globe Telecom to introduce what it said was the world's first mobile international money transfer service called M-money. Under the system, Maxis customers can wire up to 500 ringgit ($143) per transaction to Globe subscribers in the Philippines, who can retrieve the money at Globe's 6,000 outlets, the statement said. M-money will "revolutionize money transfer" and make it a convenient and cheaper alternative for foreign workers in Malaysia to send money back home, it said. Maxis customers must cash in the money with Maxis before making any overseas remittance and are charged only a five ringgit ($1.47) service fee per transaction, less than half the fee that bank charges, it added. Maxis subscribers can remit up to 500 ringgit a day and 10,000 ringgit ($2,940) a month. Maxis said it plans to extend the service to Indonesia next month, to allow Maxis customers to send money to Indonesian bank accounts.

Citibank has also launched an internet-based remittance solutions (Remit2home) in partnership with Times of Money Limited, through which a non-resident Bangladeshi (NRB) in the US can remit money to Bangladesh through internet access from anywhere in the US. This will bring enormous benefits to the NRBs living in the US providing 7 days a week round-the-clock remittance service, economical charges and competitive exchange rates. In Malaysia, the Philippines and the UK, we have introduced banking solutions based on mobile phone technology. A customer can transfer money to other beneficiaries through using his mobile phone. Introduction of the solution in Bangladesh is in an exploratory phase. The bank identified transparency and optimisation as the core requirements of clients in doing their banking transactions.

Thanks to The Dailystar for bringing up such interesting news, both focusing on one core issue--remittance. Citibank is showing the way to other banks to a very lucrative market. It is to be seen how the bank handles issues such as transparency, cost and reach. I wonder if they could come to any arrangements with mobile operators like GrameenPhone, BanglaLink, Warid etc. I am sure our telecom companies have the necessary infrastructure in place to facilitate this remittance transfer with banks like Citibank in between the process. I wonder if the telcos could also tie up with numerous branch offices of NGOs like ASA, BRAC etc. spread all over the country and use them as remittance collection outlets. Just a thought, I hope it realizes in near future.

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