Best Ways to Stay Connected with Family from Abroad

Although 2020 has been a challenge for all of us, it also made us rely more heavily on technology to reach one another. That means that more options have become more commonplace to stay connected with family from abroad.

In other words, we’re finding better, more creative ways to stay in touch!

Below, you’ll find a list of what we believe are the best ways to stay connected with family and friends from abroad. These are tried and true ideas that we’ve been putting in practice to reach our loved ones.

1. Make room for phone calls and video chats

Just because you’re not meeting up with someone in person doesn’t mean you can’t “make plans” for staying connected with your family. Set a time and date to call someone, be it recurrent or a one-time thing. Add it to your calendar and commit to it. Not only will this ensure the call actually happens, but it’ll also make the other person feel like you value them and treasure the time you get to spend together.

2. Keep track of important personal information

A big source of anxiety when moving abroad is the severing of the emergency contact. If you don’t live close to your family, they can’t be the person you list in case of emergencies and vice versa. However, by keeping track of important details like insurance information, doctors’ numbers, and appointment schedules, you’ll feel ready to help out at a moment’s notice.

3. Send a postcard

There’s nothing wrong with keeping it old fashioned! In fact, while technology is more convenient, nothing beats receiving something tangible from that person you’re missing. After all, if calls and vide chats were enough, we’d never miss those who are far. Postcards are short, sweet, and easy to put on display.

4. Start a blog or get vlogging

Not all of us are inclined to the influencer life, but what about starting a private blog or YouTube channel? These are great tools to stay connected with your loved ones and keep them informed about your new life overseas. Give them a tour of your new place, your favorite spot in town, or your birthday celebration. By providing your loved ones with a window into your everyday life, they’ll feel much closer to you and a part of your new journey.

5. Send money for monthly bills or special occasions

One of the backbones of family life is sharing financial responsibilities. And the value of this has little to do with money. It’s about knowing you can count on someone’s help when there’s an emergency or you’re struggling. It means opening ways for a better everyday life or returning the favor to those who supported you. By sending money, you can stay connected to your family while abroad and make sure they know you’re still there for them, distance aside.

6. Make plans for a future visit

Once you’ve lived in more than one place, you’re sure to miss aspects from your old home. At the same time, you will grow to love new things that you wish to share with those left behind. Next time you discover a new part of town or remember an ice cream shop you loved back home, write it down. This way, whenever you are able to reunite with your loved ones, you’ll remember exactly what you missed or what you wanted to show them. At the end of the day, an important aspect of staying connected to family while abroad is creating new memories whenever you visit each other. It’ll prove to you that distance is no match for love.

7. Remember important events

Each culture has different celebrations, and it might be hard to keep track of yours if you’ve moved abroad. However, a surefire way to stay connected to your family, your friends, and your roots is to keep upholding and celebrating the traditions that were once dear to you. The same goes for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc. Just because you can’t be there in person, doesn’t mean you can’t be present for these important events.

8. Stay true to the flow of each relationship

As humans, we relate to one another through shared experiences, likes, and dislikes. The easiest way to keep bonds alive amid the distance is to uphold how you relate to each important person in your life. For example, if you share a love for football with your brother, keep up with him about games and merchandise you might find on your walk home. Your brother will be happy that you’re thinking of him and, as a result, you’ll continue to strengthen your bond.

9. Prioritize the family group chat

Life gets busy, especially when we’re trying to make our way in a new environment. So, it’s normal that we will struggle to find time to stay in touch with each and every family member. That’s when family group chats come in handy. Everyone is in one place, and so are all the new pictures and updates. Think of it as your digital home.

Being far from those we care about is hard but living abroad can also be an enriching experience. We hope that these tips help you stay connected with your loved ones so you can enjoy guilt and stress-free what your new home has to offer.

How to Build Credit from Scratch

In the world of personal finance, it’s common to hear the terms “credit score” and “credit history.” But why is everyone so preoccupied with building credit? And, most important, what helps build credit score?

Today, we’ll walk you through the best ways of how to build credit and why it’s essential.

Why is it important to build good credit?

Building credit is about reputation. There are many situations in life in which we need to sell ourselves. For example, when you’re interviewing for a job or meeting your future in-laws for the first time. When the other party doesn’t know much about you, you want to put your best foot forward so that they will trust you.  The same happens when we take out a loan. A credit score works in the same way.

Maybe you want to buy a home and need a mortgage, or maybe you want a loan to start a business. Whatever the reason may be, the bank or investor will need to have some proof that they can rely on you to pay back the money they’re lending you. In other words, your credit score is like a financial CV.

Here are some instances in which having a good credit score comes in handy:

  • Mortgages
  • Auto loans
  • Business loans
  • Payment flexibility for utility services
  • Emergency credit

How to build good credit history from scratch

We get it. Having a good credit score is vital.  But how is a credit score determined? And how do we go about getting one? As with everything in personal finance: it’s about starting small.

If you already have a bank account or debit card, you’re in a great position to begin your credit journey. All you need is to apply for a credit card or a small loan at your bank. However, before you do, be mindful that whatever you borrow has to be paid back.

It’s not about using credit to spend more money than you earn. It’s about using credit to prove you can deliver con your promise of paying back.

You can also build credit by paying bills. Here’s the step-by-step:

  1. Get a credit line or card from your bank
  2. Assign automatic payments like utility bills or insurance to your credit account
  3. Once you’ve been charged, pay off your credit card with the same money you’d use to pay for those bills

If you just opened a bank account or have had issues with credit or loans in the past, there are still many options available.

  • Secured credit card: Banks want to have as many customers as possible, but they do need a guarantee that you’ll be a good one. A secured credit card allows you to build credit score while also protecting the bank. How? Through an upfront payment. In the same way property owners ask for a deposit for your rental in case you miss a payment or break something, the bank will ask for collateral.
  • Store cards: Many retail stores will offer credit cards you can use to make purchases within their stores and help to build credit in the process. They usually come with perks like discounts or the ability to pay in installments. Just make sure they report your credit score (some might not).
  • Co-signed loans:  if you need both a small loan and to better your credit score, you can ask a parent or spouse to co-sign a loan. The only requirement is that your co-signer has a good credit score of their own, but keep in mind that they’ll be responsible for the loan. This kind of agreement shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it’s a good option for parents or spouses wanting to help their loved one.

How to build credit score and keep it in check

Getting started is important, but so is keeping up the good work. Once you get the hang of it, improving your credit score is easy. All you have to do is follow the golden rule: don’t borrow more than what you can afford.

This rule is essential when it comes to bigger commitments like a mortgage. Don’t forget to investigate how your credit score affects your mortgage rate – when buying a house, make sure your mortgage fees don’t go over your existing housing budget.

And what about a credit score for a car? If you’re planning to take out a car loan, calculate what percentage of your monthly income will be destined to paying it off. Don’t lose track of your budget just because it’s a smaller loan (that’s how life gets you!).

Finally, continue paying your recurring bills on time, whether they’re linked to your credit or your debit card.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to building a perfect credit history.

The Ria Money Transfer App Arrives in Europe

Now more than ever, we know how important it is to reach our loved ones anytime, anywhere. That’s why, at Ria, we’ve strengthened our commitment to meeting you where you are: at home, on the subway, at work, or while staying socially distant. Customers in Europe are now able to send and receive money from the comfort and safety of their homes using the new Ria Money Transfer app.

Where is the app available?

Customers in Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway,and Sweden can now send money with the Ria Money Transfer app!

As shared by Erik Poch, Managing Director of Ria Digital, “We knew we had to deliver a solution for our customers to send money from the comfort and safety of their homes, and we’re glad to have our new product offering ready at such a crucial time for customers and their families.”

Outside of Europe, the app is also available in the United States and Canada.

How to send money with the Ria Money Transfer app

With the Ria Money Transfer app, you can send money across Ria’s network, including over 402,000 locations and 3 billion bank accounts.

Thanks to the use of biometrics and other eKYC technology, you can create an account and start sending money safely in a matter of minutes. This applies to both new and existing customers.

If you’re a returning customer, you only need to provide the app with your date of birth and your registered ID’s expiration date. With this information, the app will be able to pull up your records and grant you login credentials. All your past data will now be available on the app for your convenience.

If you’re a new customer, the app will walk you through a simple verification process.

  1. Take pictures of the front and back of your ID
  2. Take a selfie
  3. Complete a proof of liveliness (such as blinking or moving the head)

After months of hard work, we’re excited to share our new product offering with you. While already a cross-departmental and international initiative, we did face the unique challenge of finalizing details and coordinating the launch while on lockdown.

Martin Behrend, Team Lead of Mobile Development, explained, “When the crisis started, we had to sit down and reassess how we would coordinate with our teams around the world, especially when the situation was changing on a day-to-day basis. It was daunting at first, but it allowed us to really flex our teamwork muscle. Everyone came together to make this launch a success, and that’s something we can all be proud of.”

When it comes to our digital expansion, our priority has been striking the right balance between technology and inclusion. Remittances are the lifeblood of many families, but each customer has a unique set of needs and requirements.

“We wanted our digital solution to complement our physical network. To do so, it was important to create an interface that could bring those two worlds together seamlessly,” shared Agne Jaruseviciute, Product Owner.

While we look forward to seeing you at our stores and agents soon, we hope our new digital solutions will help bring some peace of mind during these trying times.

The Ria Money Transfer app is available for download today!

The World We Share: Meet Muhammed

Our guest from India orders a large pot of tea, perfect to stay warm indoors and away from the rolling thunder.

As the storm gains momentum outside, Muhammed tells us about how he emigrated to London over 18 years ago. Like so many before him, Muhammed left behind a family in search of the financial means to provide for them.

“I have four children. Two boys and two girls. They’re all living in India.”

Muhammed’s voice fills with pride as he tells us about his daughters, who are 21 and 24 years old. One is studying for an MBA in Aviation Technology. The other is studying for a BTEC in Information Technology.

“University is very expensive in India. My daughter has to travel 150 km to get to the nearest university. She has to stay in a hostel nearby, so I pay for the hostel and her food.”

Indian immigrant living in the UK

Now that his daughters are of age, there are matrimonial expenses to consider.

“I want my two daughters to get married, but you need £52,000 to get just one daughter married.”

Our mouths drop open, astounded by the whopping, non-negotiable figure.

“I’m a Muslim, so we need to pay a dowry, which pays for jewels, a home, a car…”

In India, it’s common practice to expect or even demand a dowry from the bride’s family. A dowry refers to an amount of money, or tangible assets, that a bride offers the bridegroom and his family. Without it, the groom’s family may not accept the marriage proposal.

After getting his daughters married, Muhammed tells us his next challenge is providing for his sons’ education. At the time of the interview, his sons are 11 and 13. It’s the same situation as with his daughters: tuition, transportation, and lodging fees. These are expenses he’ll need to save up for before moving back to India.

When asked if he’d stay in the UK, he answered, “The people in London are very polite. It’s very neat and clean. It’s a safe country. The only problem is money… If you don’t have any savings, you can’t do anything.”

Muhammed’s vision for his future seems as clear as day. He knows exactly what he wants to do, when, and how.

“After two or three years, I’ll go back to India… I want to start a traditional biryani restaurant.”

Biryani, a fragrant rice dish cooked with spiced meat and vegetables, is popular in India. Muhammed’s native town of Tamil Nadu is no exception, located on the south Indian coast where he plans to set up shop.

According to Muhammed, it’s cheaper to run a restaurant business in India. However, his biggest motivation for moving back is the work-life balance.

“Here [in London], I wake up, go to work, go home and go to sleep… that’s it! But in India, if you start a business, you have enjoyment. You can go out with your family. You can go to parties.”

Even though Muhammed wants to move back, he’s encouraged his children to give London a chance. Thanks to their education, Muhammed is confident that they’d have a bright future in England.

At Ria, we are proud to support migrant workers like Muhammed. Through his hard work, he’s provided his children with an education and the means to create a better life for themselves.

We believe being apart is already a steep price to pay, so we put great care into providing the most efficient service for our customers.

If you’re living abroad and looking to send money to India, you can check out our payout locations here

Supporting Migrant Workers: Affordable Remittances Through COVID-19

Close to five million people leave their native countries every year in search of a better life. Sometimes, people immigrate to earn a college degree or to learn a language. Other times, to gain international experience in their field. But, more often than not, people move to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Currently, there are around 272 million migrants across the globe. That’s one in every 30 people overcoming language barriers, uncertainty, and even discrimination. Yet, their motivation is unwavering. In the end, migrant workers must rise above it all to provide for their families and communities back home.

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But, how can migrant workers support their families from far away? They rely on money transfer services like Ria to send remittances back home. Remittances refers to the funds migrant workers send back to their countries of origin.

In 2020 alone, migrants sent US$554 billion to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While these may sound like impressive numbers, they represent a lifeline for millions.

A steady flow of funds from abroad goes a long way for recipient households. For one, their children are more likely to stay in school. Families have more options for health coverage. Whole communities can also thrive thanks to GDP contributions. In countries like Haiti, remittances are as much as 37%of the national GDP.

Unfortunately, migrant workers and their families must overcome an extra hurdle this year. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath threaten the livelihood of many.

Lockdowns and restrictions have halted economic activity worldwide, resulting in job losses. This is compounded by the fact that many visas are only granted depending on the applicant’s employment status. The possibility of forceful returns is also met with travel restrictions. With moving plans delayed, those displaced by climate change or political unrest must wait longer.

At the same time, migrant workers still employed are likely performing first-necessity tasks. This could mean they’re risking their health without proper insurance. If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s that the most vulnerable are often the most exposed.

Now more than ever, the road to financial inclusion is not straight-forward. Curveballs like COVID-19 can derail or slow down the process. However, the livelihood of thousands of families is at stake. Bringing down the global cost of remittances can help fight poverty and encourage access to financial services.

Ria is committed to providing a service that is affordable, convenient, and safe. But we can’t do it alone. Hundreds of non-compete clauses around the world keep average prices high. This refers to clauses signed by remittance service providers that restrict them from working with other partners. In other words, fewer competitors mean less price competition, resulting in higher or stagnant prices.

If you represent an organization that can help us facilitate affordable remittances for migrant workers, we encourage you to keep reading. The same goes for anyone interested in learning more about the benefits of remittances on receiving households.

In this report, we will explore the impact of money transfers and what we can do to propel and protect them.

Table of Contents:

  1. Remittances today for migrant workers
  2. Powering education through remittances
  3. Improving health coverage through remittances
  4. Remittances and micro-investments
  5. How to bring down the cost of remittances at a global scale
  6. COVID-19’s impact on remittances and how to bounce back

1. Remittances today

As of 2020, remittances provide LMICs with three times the funding received through foreign aid. The same is true for private capital flows and foreign direct investment (FDI). The money received by recipients of money transfers means greater domestic consumption.

In turn, this generates more tax revenue for the receiving country. The economic boost from remittances can be used by states to pay off their foreign debt and cover costs for building new schools and hospitals.

By increasing spending power in countries with limited cash flow, remittances help revitalize economies. The impact is so great that these funds represent over 10% of the GDP in 30 countries. For some, like Nepal and Tajikistan, the percentage is as high as 25%.

It’s no surprise that the United Nations made it a goal for 2030 to lower the global cost of remittances. This is part of its Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 (SDG) plan. In the next 10 years, the average cost should be down to 3%. Currently, the average sits at 6.8%.

There are three main channels for migrant workers to send money home: banks, post offices, and money transfer operators (MTOs). As of March 2020, banks remain the most expensive option, averaging 10.51% in fees. On the flipside, MTOs continue leading the race to lower transaction fees, at 5.99%. Mobile money operators charge remittance fees averaging 3.37%, but they remain a small share of transactions made.

Every quarter, the World Bank publishes a Remittance Prices Worldwide report. Here, they share the average cost of remitting money per region and remittance corridor. The latter refers to the bilateral channel of money transfers between one country and another. The report tracks 48 sending countries and 105 receiving countries. That’s a total of 367 corridors.

top three remittance-dependent countries migrant workers

Armed with the results of the World Bank’s reports, governments and businesses can reassess their strategies to stimulate remittances. For instance, there is a section dedicated to the average cost of sending money in G8 and G20 countries. G8 member countries average a 6.57% cost over the sum remitted, but the figure varies from country to country. While Japan averages 9.40%, the Russian Federation is already below 2%.

At the same time, global averages of remittance costs can be misleading as there is no “standard fee.” While sending fees for sending money to South Asia are the cheapest (4.95%), fees for remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa remain sky-high at 8.9%. It is clear that this African region needs the most attention to facilitate affordable remittances for working migrants.

The key takeaway is that dropping sending costs to 3% is vital. By empowering more migrant workers to send money home, we’re lifting entire communities out of financial hardship. And, for those who can already afford to send money home, we’d be unlocking a little extra for the education, healthcare, and micro-investments of their loved ones.

2. Powering education through remittances

As mentioned above, remittances allow families to cover vital expenses. Such is the case for education, be it primary or secondary.

In global terms, the number of children who drop out of primary school has drastically decreased since 1970. At the same time, the inflow of remittances has risen from US$35.8 billion to US$689 billion in the past thirty years. Thus, it’s likely that the rise in funding correlates with more children in school getting the education they need.

While these facts alone aren’t enough to establish a direct correlation, a recent study conducted by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) confirmed the positive impact of remittances on education.

children out of school

The study found that families in Peru, Guatemala, and the Philippines used remittances to triple their spending on education. At the same time, recipient households in rural India and Morocco designated an extra 17% of their savings to education on average.

There are cases in which migration can affect family dynamics. For example, a younger child might quit school to take over for their expatriated sibling. This may include household chores or helping out with the family business.

However, the situation changes when remittances start to come in. For instance, in the Philippines, higher inflows of money to Filipino households helped cut unpaid child labor by three hours a week.

In 18 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, remittances boost education spending by an average of 35%. In Latin America, the average is a whopping 53% of household income spent on education for the family.

With these education budgets in mind, what would happen if we were to lower the global cost of remittances to 3%? UNESCO estimates that, if we made this happen, an extra US$1 billion would go to education spending. Plus, it’s not only tuition money that counts towards keeping children in school. When there are more funds to go around, families don’t need to rely on their children’s labor.

2. Improving health coverage through remittances

Medical emergencies can happen at any time. They can range from a broken bone to life-or-death surgery.

In high-income countries, many people have access to public healthcare. Others can afford private insurance to cover their medical bills. However, sanitation is not as accessible in low- and middle-income countries. For one, medical infrastructure is limited. In many LMIC countries, public healthcare systems are often not robust enough to provide equal healthcare for all of its citizens. While private insurance is an option, it tends to be too expensive for many families.

This is where migrant workers come in. Having an expatriate parent or sibling can help in three ways. The first is by sending money back home via money transfers. The second is to pass on healthcare knowledge. Each country will have different healthcare practices that the expat can learn from to look after their wellbeing and that of their loved ones. The third is through community outreach programs.

Through hometown associations (HTAs), migrant workers can give and receive support in collaboration with their fellow expatriated countryfolk. These associations, formed by expatriates from the same community, help raise funds to pay for communal needs back home. Examples include building a new hospital or donating supplies to a local school.

But, when cash is sent to individual households, how is it spent? The North South University in Bangladesh surveyed recipient families in the local village of Hasanpur to determine how they spent the money they receive from abroad. The study found over 25% of remittances are spent on education and health, as can be observed in the graph below:

impact of remittances sent by migrant workers to bangladesh

Health spending, as with education, will depend on each country and its public systems. But, even if health investments vary, indirect spending on food and infrastructure also comes with health benefits. Things like keeping a balanced diet or sleeping on a better mattress can improve health.

To protect the most vulnerable, the World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing for universal health coverage. The goal is to ensure that every person in the world has access to medical assistance.

While the WHO presses on with its projects, remittances continue to play an important role in health spending. It’s up to us, the international community, to help accelerate the journey towards universal health coverage.

4. Remittances and micro investments

In the 1970s, the microcredit business boomed in Southeast Asia. These lines of credit started as small loans for poverty-stricken populations. If you couldn’t qualify for a bank account or loan, microcredits were still an option. Borrowers would then use the funds to start a small business to support their families. However, microcredit institutions have faced a lot of backlash since their dawn.

Although microcredits can do a lot of good when done correctly, they come at a price. The borrower still needs to return the money with interest. Thus, the borrower risks getting stuck in a constant cycle of repayment.

Now, what if families could receive a cash injection without needing to return it? When families receive more than necessary through remittances, they can use the extra income to buy land or start a business. The problem is, unlike health and education, micro-investments are not an urgent or vital need. This means families need to cover their basics before even thinking about investing.

But there is good news. Some data already suggests families will opt for investing if given the chance and proper education.

One study found remittances amount to more than 25% of all capital invested in small and micro-enterprises in Mexico. In regions with the highest rates of migration to the United States, remittances amount to 40% of investment.

Still, levels of financial literacy are low in rural areas, which hinders entrepreneurship. A study in Nepal found only 5% of respondents use their savings to start a business, while only 8% were planning to invest in the future.

use of remittances in nepal

Yet, while most adults live off of farming, families still focus on education spending. In the future, these children might showcase a bigger interest in starting a business.

Even though the effect of remittances on local investment depends on financial literacy, extra funds can only help the family. Lowering the cost of remittances can both help keep children in school and give families the financial freedom to invest.

5. How to bring down the cost of remittances at a global scale

Until recently, the remittances market was a monopoly. It was only around 35 years ago that different players began to surface, racking up their own percentages of the market share. However, many signed non-compete contracts, locking prices at the same rate.

By allowing the different players to bounce off of each other, the price of remittances can drop significantly, at least at an MTO level. The use of technology to facilitate transfers and agreements with banks and postal services can alleviate the costs across the board.

Regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, where sending fees are the highest, will need to be the main focus to help migrant workers remit money affordably. But all around the world, the pressure must come from governments to follow the international goal of bringing down the cost of remittances to 3% by 2030. As of 2020, no region has reached the proposed average sending cost.

average cost of sending remittances world bank

There is a lot to be done to help migrant workers send money home and only less than 10 years to do it in. However, we are progressing at a commendable speed. With only 3.79% to go in bringing down remittance costs, it seems likely we will be able to emulate the 2009 to 2019 drop of 4% in the next decade.

At Ria, our remittance sending fees are close to reaching the 2030 goal globally, but we continue to foster competition in the hopes of offering an even better fee for our customers who live in the world’s most vulnerable regions.

6. COVID-19’s impact on remittances and how to bounce back

The first half of 2020 was marked by a coronavirus pandemic, the aftermath of which is still felt across the globe. This pandemic hasn’t only resulted in a sanitary crisis, but also a socioeconomic one. With major lockdowns paralyzing whole cities, many have found themselves out of a job.

Complications have arisen both in sending and receiving countries. For migrant workers and their families, this created a two-fold problem. On the one hand, weaker job security. On the other, the inability to pick up money transfers in cash, often the only choice for many recipients of remittances. Even now, as lockdowns soften and the economy begins to move again, the situation hasn’t improved much.

The World Bank projects a 20% decline in global remittances following the crisis. In short, remittances to low and middle-income countries (LMICs) could fall by 19.7% to US$445 billion.

To make matters worse, businesses and corporations have also suffered financially. Thus, foreign direct investment is also expected to drop by at least 35%. This could lead to families in LMICs relying almost entirely on remittances. In other words, it’s never been more important to help migrant workers overcome this financial hurdle.

Recently, the IAMTN (International Association of Money Transfer Networks) carried out a survey among money transfer companies to determine main challenges and next steps following the COVID-19 outbreak. The results were shared in a report titled “Impact of COVID-19 on Migrants and Remittances” published in May.

The three main issues encountered by money transfer customers were:

1. Limited access to remittance services. A direct result of partial or complete closures of physical stores following lockdowns.

2. Decrease in income. Dampened economic activity in host countries that led to job losses or salary cuts.

3. Limited adoption of digital channels. For one, many migrant workers aren’t eligible for bank accounts or debit cards, which are necessary to transact online. At the same time, receiving countries could lack the infrastructure to power digital remittances.

Parallel to this report, the World Bank shared a set of proposals to aid migrant workers. The key takeaway is urging local governments and policymakers to adopt measures that can ease remittance flows. Below are their main proposals.

1. Declare remittances an “essential service” to exempt money transfer operators from store closures.

2. Support the infrastructure for going digital by simplifying regulations and procedures. These could include increasing access to identification, bank accounts, and eKYC measures.

3. Incentivize money transfer companies to reduce transaction costs. This could be achieved through tax exemptions or other fiscal support agreements.

Although remittance volumes are currently in decline, an upsurge is estimated by 2021. In the past, remittances have continued to grow steadily, even during the 2008 financial crisis. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to be a bump in the road, rather than a full stop.

Remittance volumes to LMICs could rise by US$5.6 million over 2019 numbers, totaling US$470 billion. But, how fast we get there will depend on collaborations with governments and money transfer providers.

7. Conclusions

These times may be challenging for empowering remittance senders and receivers. However, it has never been more crucial to stand by the millions of migrant workers and their families.

Economic crisis or not, migrants are often amongst the most vulnerable. They usually make up a big part of our front lines, supporting essential industries around the world. During this pandemic, migrant workers may have exposed themselves without the necessary access to healthcare.

But these are sacrifices migrant workers are willing to make. They’ll do whatever is necessary to break free of poverty, for themselves and for their families. So, it’s our responsibility, as an international community to look out for them.

They do the heavy lifting in opening ways for a better everyday life. And that applies not more than themselves and their communities back home.

Migrant workers also help host countries thrive through their invaluable contributions. By empowering migrant workers, we help lift economies, one family, and one community at a time. And, isn’t a global economic crisis the best time to get started? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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The World We Share: Meet Imerson

Imerson’s story starts at the young age of 26 when he left home in the West Africa’s Ivory Coast. He emigrated to London as a student to pursue his higher education. Back then, completing a course was a condition for migrants to be granted a British residency permit after graduation.  

“My biggest accomplishment has been finishing my studies because it’s a part of you. It can’t be taken away from you. With it, you can go anywhere.” 

Despite the struggles he faced living in a foreign country, Imerson passed all his exams, earned an MBA in Business Management, and landed a job as a hotel manager. 

When asked where he found his relentless motivation to succeed against the odds, Imerson was quick to reveal it was thanks to Richard Branson’s autobiography.  

“In life, you can succeed at anything when you put all of your trust and focus on achieving it.” 

Family plays a central part in Imerson’s life. Once settled in London, he got married and had three children. They’re now nine, eleven, and sixteen. 

Migrant from Ivory Coast living in London, pictured at Brixton

Our guest’s voice fills with melancholy when he tells us how much he misses his father back home in the Ivory Coast. 

“I’m lucky that my father is still alive. I send him money on my birthday.” 

Although Imerson can only go back home once every two years, he’s happy that he can care for his father’s financial wellbeing from London. But our guest values something more enriching than money. He places a high value on human interactions that come from the heart.  

“Everything here is about money”, asserts Imerson, with feelings of disappointment in today’s culture of endlessly chasing after wealth.“Today, the value of personal connection has been lost.” 

Imerson reminds us of something we sometimes neglect – the value of picking up the phone and calling a loved one to find out how they are. This should be a habitual action, and carries more weight than just sending a check.

In life, you need to focus on what you want to be. I see friends who came from overseas who forget where they come from and their purpose for being in Europe, or anywhere. I tell my sister that life is not easy, but, if you really want what you want, you’ll get it. Many people who come here [and don’t succeed] have changed their mind. “

Migrant from Ivory Coast living in London, pictured at Brixton

Despite having fled poverty and earned the right to stay as a permanent UK resident, Imerson has other plans. His big eyes light up and a smile beams from his face as he tells us about his bright future. Our guest plans to return to the Ivory Coast and invest in farming. He wants to grow cocoa and develop a rubber plantation. In fact, his business plans are already set in motion. 

“At the moment, I have bought 15 acres of land for a rubber plantation.” 

Imerson’s motivation to become an entrepreneur in his home country was spurred by the success of his friends who achieved the same. Like him, they emigrated from the Ivory Coast to for better professional training in their host country. They also built up the funds they needed to develop a flourishing business back in the Ivory Coast. Imerson is keen to follow in their footsteps and eventually retire there. 

Ria is proud to help entrepreneurs like Imerson achieve their dreams of retiring back home with the financial freedom they’ve always wanted. Millions of migrants like him use money transfers to build a business abroad, setting the path for their eventual return and furthering their communities’ development. At Ria, we’re honored to help them in their journey, giving customers the possibility of bridging the distance between where they work and where their heart is.

To read more stories like Imerson’s, check out our The World We Share series here.

A Brief History of Migration and Remittances in India

Did you know indoor plumbing was invented in the Indus Valley?

This invention, along with many infrastructural changes first implemented in Indian metropolises, allowed civilizations to flourish over millennia in the Indian subcontinent.

The result has been nothing short of outstanding, with present-day India possessing the second-largest population in the world despite ranking eight in extension.

Thanks to its long and widespread history, India’s cultural heritage is impressively varied. Currently, there 22 official languages, with English being considered a subsidiary official language.

In honor of India’s Republic Day being celebrated this Sunday, January 26, we bring you the newest installment in our Brief Histories series. Continue reading to learn all about migration and remittances in India below.

ria-money-transfer-immigration-remittances-history-india

Indian migration

India has the highest volume of emigration in the world, with 17.5 million natives living abroad. According to the Pew Research Center, one out of every twenty migrants worldwide was born in India. The majority of Indian expats live in the United Arab Emirates (3.4 million), the United States (2.7 million), and Saudi Arabia (2.4 million). However, the country doesn’t suffer from a dwindling population as only immigrants comprise only 1% of the total.

Based on stats from the Migration Data Portal, India’s international migrant stock equals 5.2 million, 0.4% of the population. Most immigrants come from Bangladesh (3.1 million), Pakistan (1.1 million), and Nepal (533.6 thousand), all of which share a border with India. Thanks to the gender parity found among immigrants, with 48.8% being women, newcomers are likely arriving as part of a family unit.

The impact of remittances in India

Last year, India received an estimated US$82.2 billion in remittances equating to 2.8% of the county’s GDP. If this number seems exorbitant, it’s because it is. India is the top-remittance receiving country in the world, a direct result of the high volume of emigration.

In correlation with current migration flocks, the highest volume of remittances to India come from the United Arab Emirates (US$13.8 billion), United States (US$11.7 billion), and Saudi Arabia (US$11.2 billion).

A Brief History of Migration and Remittances in Italy

Italy is a European country situated along the Mediterranean Sea. With a total population of around 60.4 million people and a central geographic location in Europe, Italy is home to a rich myriad of cultures.

Millions of people move to Italy every year in search of a better life. They make their journeys to earn money abroad and send back home to their loved ones.

Here, we explore Italy’s key migration trends and their relationship with remittance behaviors.

Immigration in Italy: newcomers to Italian soil

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), around 6.3 million international migrants live in Italy. That’s approximately 10.4% of the country’s total population.

From 1990 to 2019, Italy’s immigration rate increased, with a significant spike occurring between 2000 and 2010. During this period, the immigration rate increased from 3.7% to 9.8%, which later stabilized to the current 10.4% recorded in 2019.

The three most significant immigrant groups reported to be living in Italy by 2019* were:

  1. Romanians: 1.1 million
  2. Albanians: 475.2 thousand
  3. Moroccans: 450.6 thousand

A recent study from the IOM (International Organization for Migration) found Moroccans and Chinese to be two of Italy’s largest entrepreneurial immigrant communities. Other top countries of origin of migrant entrepreneurs recorded include Romania, Albania, Switzerland, and Bangladesh.

Good to know:

  • Lombardi hosts Italy’s largest share of immigrants and is the origin of the most remittance outflows, followed by Lazio.*
  • Around half of all companies in Italy set up by immigrants are registered in four main regions: Lombardi, Latium, Tuscany, and Emelia.
  • Lazio (Central Italy) and Campania (Southern Italy) are the most populated cities in Italy.
  • Rome, Milan, and Naples are the largest cities in Italy.
Source: *World Bank ‡IOM (International Organization for Migration) †UN DESA 2019

Emigration from Italy: Italian nationals moving abroad

Since the late 19th century, Argentina has been a top destination for the Italian diaspora. As recently as 2018, the MAECI (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) recorded that around 1 million Italians were living in the South American country. With an estimate of 5 million Italians live abroad, the number is equivalent to 1/5th of all Italians residing abroad.

Germany and Switzerland are the next most popular destinations for Italian migrants. They host around 807,000 and 640,000 Italian emigrants respectively.

Good to know:

  • More than half of the Italian diaspora (54%) has moved to a European country.
  • Half of Italy’s emigrant stock (50.1%) are from southern Italy, including Sicily.
  • Just over one-third of Italian emigrants (34.8%) are from northern Italy, including Lombardi and Piedmont.
  • Just 15.6% of Italian emigrants are from the central regions, including Latium and Rome.
Source: Register of Italians Residing Abroad (AIRE)

Balance of Italian emigrants and immigrants, 2017

migration and remittances in italy
Source: IOM

Remittances to and from Italy

The World Bank highlights money transfers as a tool for Italy’s financial development, economic growth, and poverty alleviation. Remittances help the economy of the host country, as well as the receiving households. For the latter, it serves as a lifeline to cover basic needs such as food, housing, clothing, and warmth.

In 2019, Italy received an estimate of US$10.4 billion in remittances.  Historically, around half of remitters in Italy (48%) originate mainly from Lombardy, Lazio, and Tuscany.

When it comes to remittance outflows, money transfer destinations correlate with the diaspora populations living in Italy. Below are the top 10 receiving countries of remittances from Italy as recorded by the Bank of Italy:

migration and remittances in italy
Accessed through IOM.

What have we learned?

Italy is home to a large number of migrants, mostly from neighboring countries in Europe. While immigration flows have increased steadily since 2007, Italian emigration flows remain as significant as the country’s immigration trend.

Both emigration and immigration in Italy are closely correlated with remittance volumes flowing in and out of the country, with Romania being the top remittance destination.

Money transfer companies like Ria operate in Italy to help migrant diasporas remit their money quickly, safely, and comfortably. To date, remittance service providers continue to support remitters across Italian borders both for the benefit of their loved ones in their home countries and for family and friends living within Italian borders.

Want to learn more about remittances and immigration? Check out our Brief Histories instalments here.