As I mentioned in my previous blog, a renewed focus on Anti Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT) regulations in Australia, the UK, and in the USA are impacting banks and MTOs.
Three effects on the remittance markets are observed. First, Banks stopped offering low cost remittance services. Second, banks closed accounts of MTOs. Two major banks, the Commonwealth Bank and the National Australia Bank, have closed already the accounts of MTOs in Australia. Recently, Westpac announced that it will close the bank accounts of MTOs serving Somalia by the end of this month. And third, small MTOs also closed since they could not any longer operate without bank accounts.
The DEC-PREM Migration and Remittances Unit of the World Bank
Invites you to a
"Management of International Migration in India"
Presenter: Professor Irudaya Rajan
Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, India
Chair: Dilip Ratha
Lead Economist and Manager, DEC-PREM Migration and Remittances Unit
April 20, 2011 12:30 – 2:00pm
Room MC 7- 100
While the beneficial impacts of migration and remittances on social welfare have been well documented, we know very little about the effects of migration--mostly by men-- on the local labor market behavior of women. To help address this gap, Mariapia Mendola (of the University of Milan) and I explored the gender aspects of migration and economic development in Albania over the past fifteen years. We decided to examine Albania during this period in greater detail because economic hardship during transition fostered massive migrant outflows, mostly to neighboring Greece and Italy. Also, male migration is an ordinary and widespread phenomenon in Albania.
Using unusually detailed international migration histories from the 2005 Albania Living Standards Measurement Survey, we found that Albanian households with family members (mostly sons and daughters) living abroad are less likely to have women in paid employment. However, male spouses with past migration experience exert a positive influence on female self-employment. The same effect is not seen for men when women migrate. Our findings suggest that over time, male-dominated, shorter-term migration may increase the income-earning opportunities for women at home.
Our working paper based on this research was published last month in the World Bank's Policy Research Working Paper series.
A constant struggle facing researchers and policymakers tackling migration issues is a lack of good data. The Center for Global Development recently released “Five Steps Toward Better Migration Data,” an excellent report on concrete steps governments and non-governmental organizations can take in the short run to fill this gap.
This report is particularly important in the context of a new round of census taking in 2010. The five recommendations are to:
- Ask basic census questions and make the data publicly available;
- Compile and release existing administrative data;
- Centralize labor force surveys;
- Provide access to microdata, not just tabulations; and
- Include migration modules on more existing household surveys.
Given the abundance of recommendations in the development industry, a laudable effort is the accompanying report card (PDF) which tracks countries’ progress with respect to the recommendations.
The Migration and Remittances Team of the Development Economics Prospects Group (DECPG) of the World Bank is organizing a brown bag lunch seminar on "The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Migration and Remittances" on Monday, June 1, 2009 from 12:00pm-1:30pm, at the Main Complex of the World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Room MC5-100. Two eminent scholars, Bimal Ghosh (Colombian School of Public Administration) and Manuel Orozco (Inter-American Dialogue) will present their views on how the economic crisis is effecting migration and remittances world-wide. The event will be chaired by Dilip Ratha, Lead Economist, DECPG.
This event is open to the public. If you would like to attend the brown bag lunch seminar, please RSVP by emailing Claudia Carter at: email@example.com.
Bangladesh seems on track to launch a mobile money transfer (MMT) service which could potentially reduce costs to 1 percent of the transfer amount. The project will be implemented by Grameen Phone (a subsidiary of Grameen Bank which has pioneered mobile access to rural areas in Bangladesh) and is being supported by the World Bank, according to India's Economic Times.
There are two new innovations compared to other developing countries with successful MMT implementation: (1) This service is targeted primarily for cross-border transfers (estimated at $9 billion annually), unlike other countries such as Kenya and Philippines where MMT has been focused on domestic transfers, and (2) It will use a network of ATM machines, where recipients can withdraw the money instead of having to go to a designated agent.
Entering the cross-border market will require developing settlement systems between Grameen Phone and banks and money transfer operators in the major remittance-sources (including in the Gulf) and extensive cooperation between the respective central banks and banking supervisors. The success of this venture will serve as a useful pilot for other countries that are considering such cross-border transfers.
I recently revisited the Social Science Research Council's (SSRC) Web Anthology on Remittances and Development, and was pleasantly surprised to find an excellent collection of research articles on this rather fast-growing topic. The articles are presented in a convenient format, organized under some broad themes such as concepts, methods, measures, determinants, uses, and impacts of remittances.
One area where more articles exist and can be added are those on remittance systems (by this I mean retail payment systems) and how they can be leveraged for accessing finance/capital at the household or institutional level. There could also be more articles on regulations - especially on anti-money-laundering/countering financing of terrorism - that affect remittance transactions.
Earlier this year, the Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI) in the Philippines launched a free (with registration) online country-level databank on overseas migration and development called the Philippine Migration
and Development Statistical Almanac.
The Miami Herald reported today that the Obama administration has lifted restrictions on family visits and sending of remittances by Cuban immigrants living in the United States (more details from a White House fact sheet). Although there are no official figures on the amount of remittances sent by the 1 million Cuban immigrants in the U.S., according to a State Department background note on Cuba, these flows are estimated to be between $600 million and $1 billion annually. The earlier U.S. policy, in effect since 2004, allowed very small amounts of remittances to immediate family members and trips back home every three years.
Interestingly, the Cuban government still levies a tax of some 20 percent on inward remittances, and a White House spokesman and some senators have called on Cuba to reduce these onerous charges. These charges represent a significant loss of value for the recipients and a barrier to sending remittances through official channels.