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WorldRemit assesses remittance flows amidst COVID-19

BY KELLARAY MILES
Business reporter
milesk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

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As world economies buckle under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, WorldRemit International has said that despite the talk of declines in the remittance sector, it has seen 100 per cent increase in its digital money transfer services.

“While senders are sending less money per transaction, the number of transactions through our platform have increased since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic,” saidanielanning, managing director of WorldRemit in speaking with the Jamaica Observer last week.

He said that despite the massive spike in unemployment in countries that have been traditional sources of remittances to the Caribbean such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK), remittance flows thus far have proven to be resilient.

“As lockdowns and social distancing rules have been implemented over the past month, WorldRemit has seen a significant increase in new customers registering for our service and beginning to send money through our platform,” he further told the Business Observer.

Canning said that many of these new customers, who previously utilised remittance services through brick and mortar outlets, have now chosen to transact business through digital channels as this provides them with more convenience, competitive prices, and the security of not having to be out in public.

“Today our customers need us more than ever and our 100 per cent digital platform is a great solution for people who don't want to put themselves or family at risk by leaving their homes to send money from a retail store,” he said.

He noted that as a result of recent government restrictions, market studies undertaken by his company have revealed marked increase in money being flowed into digital channels such as bank accounts and mobile wallets.

He asserted that “there has been a significant shift from cash pick up to digital. In some countries, the shift from cash to mobile money, airtime top-up, or bank transfers has been 100 per cent.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a spike in digital send and payout methods in countries under lockdown. As governments across the globe impose movement restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus, our data show this is changing the way people send and receive money abroad.

“Our customer acquisition was up compared to the same period last year. In countries like the US, Canada, Spain, Italy, and the UK where strict lockdowns have been put in place, people who still need to send money abroad but don't want to put themselves at risk by leaving their homes are beginning to move to digital methods,” he said.

He suggested, however, that the remittance flow – while experiencing some downturn as a result of the economic pressures in the short term, impacting the amount of currency and the frequency at which people can remit funds to loved ones — will return to its former rate.

“As a society, we all hope that those who have been furloughed or are working reduced hours will be able to get back to work as soon as possible. Remittance senders are very resilient, and we firmly believe that as soon as they are able to regain full employment, the remittances flows will pick up,” he continued.

In speaking to the commitment of his company to fulfilling its mandate of providing a secure and convenient option for sending money to loved ones across borders, Canning said that the availability of service is 24/7 from the convenience of a smartphone or computer.

“Through WorldRemit, Jamaicans can send money quickly and conveniently to all bank accounts and credit unions. Funds are typically available within one business day,” he offered.

He mentioned that while some people may return to cash as their preferred money transfer method post-COVID-19, it remains highly likely that there will also be accelerated levels of migration from cash and retail money transfer towards mobile money and other forms of digital payment.

“We do think that digital platforms are here to stay and to revolutionise the way people send money. We believe that WorldRemit is well positioned to serve our existing and new customers well during this pandemic and beyond. We were born digital and have seamlessly moved our operation from an office basis to work from home to be able to continue to serve our customers seamlessly in this time when they need us more than ever,” he told the Business Observer.

WorldRemit currently offers its cash payout service through JMMB and Victoria Mutual locations and bank account service to all banks and credit unions in Jamaica and airtime top-up.


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