MOBILE money or use of a mobile phone to remit funds offers the cheapest way for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to send cash home, a party-list lawmaker said yesterday.
Citing the World Bank’s latest Remittance Prices Worldwide (RPW) report, ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said cash transfers via “mobile operators” cost a global average of only 3.20 percent of the amount sent in the second quarter of 2018, down from 3.29 percent in the same period in 2017.
“In contrast, remittances coursed through banks cost a global average of 10.41 percent of the amount forwarded in the second quarter of this year, down from 10.99 percent in the same period last year,” said Bertiz in a statement.
Remittances by means of money transfer operators such as Western Union and MoneyGram as well as so-called “innovative financial technology players” cost a global average of 6.15 percent of the amount conveyed, down from 6.23 percent last year, according to Bertiz.
Bertiz said remittances passing through postal offices cost a global average of 6.81 percent of the amount dispatched, down from 6.85 percent last year.
“We have to push for the use of mobile technologies to make it cheaper and faster for OFWs to send money home,” said Bertiz, although he also acknowledged that the development of mobile money or “mobile wallets” has been slowed down by lack of harmonized regulations between countries.
At present, Bertiz said remittance markets are still dominated by banks that charge the highest transfer fees.
“In our case, OFWs still rely heavily on banks to send their money home, so we have to put more pressure on banks to reduce transfer charges,” said Bertiz.
“While we recognize that Philippine banks correspond with foreign partners that also collect high fees, our banks here can do their share in bringing down charges, primarily through innovation and new technologies,” said Bertiz.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) last week reported that the cash sent home by OFWs through banks in July alone reached $2.401 billion, up 5.2 percent from the $2.283 billion in the same month in 2017.
“Based on the 10.41 percent global average cost of remittances coursed through banks, we can easily estimate that in July alone, OFWs spent around $250 million to pay for (bank) transfer fees,” said Bertiz.
“Reducing bank charges to an average of 5.2 percent would easily translate into $125 million or P6.75 billion in monthly cost-savings – additional wealth that should directly benefit the households here our migrant workers and our overall economy,” said Bertiz.