Tag: #remittances

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.


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 Poland

Poland has a population of around 38.3 million people, positioning it as the 8th most populated country in Europe. Its climate is largely temperate and seasonal, with relatively warm summers and cold winters. Although Poland is widely known as a net migration country, its favorable economic conditions are pulling in an increasing number of migrant workers.

As part of our Brief Histories series, here we delve into Poland’s migration flows and their impact on remittances to and from the country.

Poland’s migration flows

Since 2004, many Polish migrants have moved to other countries within the European Union, particularly to France, Germany, and the UK, according to the World Bank. These are among the sixteen EU countries that signed bilateral agreements with Poland on seasonal employment. An estimated 4.3 million Poles have been recorded as living abroad.

Poland is increasingly becoming the chosen destination for many immigrants in search of job opportunities.

Owing to strong emotional ties between Polish migrants and their families back home, a significant proportion of them choose not to settle in their host country permanently. Many prefer instead to emigrate for up to six months for seasonal work, returning back to Poland for the remainder of the year.

Although Poland is typically known in the west as a predominantly migrant country, the tide is turning. Poland is increasingly becoming the chosen destination for many immigrants in search of job opportunities.

In 2017, Poland issued more visas to foreign workers than any other country in Europe. During that year alone, more than 680,000 foreigners were granted legal residency in Poland, a significant proportion of them from Ukraine. An estimated one to two million Ukrainian citizens currently work in Poland, many of which live there temporarily to meet seasonal employment needs.

The geographical proximity between the two countries, coupled with low travel costs, give Ukrainians more freedom to emigrate for short term periods. From the Polish city of Lublin, for example, a bus service runs 17 departures per day to Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, affording Ukrainians more flexibility to return home to their families for large portions of the year.

Poland also counts with a fair share of immigration from countries like Germany (81,779), Belarus (81,363), and Lithuania (54,057).

It is also becoming increasingly common in Poland to see immigrants from South Asian countries, particularly Indians and Nepalese.

Impact on remittances in Poland

Polish immigration to other European countries has brought with it an increased volume of remittances. The highest volumes are sent from Germany (US$2.1 billion) and the United Kingdom (US$1.1 billion). In 2019, an estimated of US$6 billion were sent in remittances to Poland.

In correlation with the more recent migration flows to Poland, Ukraine is now the biggest recipient of remittances compared to all other European countries, according to figures from the World Bank. This is reflected in money transfers totalling around US$ 14.4 billion made in 2018 from Ukrainians in Poland.

Poland is no longer associated solely with high migration flows. Rather, it has become a country of choice for many migrants looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. The lower travel costs and cultural proximity between Poland and its neighboring countries offers migrants greater ease to move back and forth for seasonal work. This trend has led to a growth in money transfers, providing a higher standard of living for recipient-families. Ultimately, the relationship between show positive economic benefits for both sending and receiving countries.

Do you live in Poland and need to send money home? Check out the myRia app! Pay with cash or card and send to over 160 countries worldwide.


The World We Share: Meet Dualeh

It wasn’t until he moved to London that Dualeh learned trees could lose their leaves. In his native Somalia, it’s always summer and children are rowdy and free to run around the fields.

In London, Dualeh was to be well behaved and adhere to a curfew, keeping him inside the small home he shared with his aunt and cousins more often than he would’ve liked.

Given he could barely speak English upon arrival, attending a local school proved to be a major challenge. Without enough vocabulary to express himself, Dualeh struggled with most classes and wasn’t able to ask for help from his teachers.

But math? That was another story. Math was easy in comparison to what we used to do in Somalia. Even when you are little, the math you are taught is very advanced. For us, algebra is nothing. I would finish the practice super quickly and would have to wait for the rest of the class to be done. Then, people would ask me how I had done the equations, but I didn’t know how to explain. I’d tell them, ‘Give me your pen, and I’ll show you how to do it,’” said Dualeh.

somalian migrant in business shirt

In due time, Dualeh made his way to college and became interested in IT. Despite his fascination for technology, his life plan remained unaltered: to graduate from college as quickly as possible and land a job in retail. And that might’ve been the story if it wasn’t for one of his teachers, Ebow, who made him question his decisions.

Ebow recognized Dualeh’s potential and encouraged him to apply to 10 universities around the United Kingdom. With Ebow’s recommendation letter, Dualeh decided to give it a shot.

“I had never thought of myself attending university or anything of the sort, but we did it. I applied, and eight out of the ten universities said yes. I hadn’t even finished college. Here, in the UK, you usually need to have finished your A-levels. I couldn’t believe it. Not even my English was good enough yet,” Dualeh shared.

somalian in front of business building

To this day, Ebow and Dualeh are best friends. They’ll meet up to have dinner once in a while and keep in touch by phone. For Dualeh, Ebow has been the most influential person in his life, and the same goes for many other students. Ebow had a habit of opening up his classroom after school so students could use the space to study and ask him questions. During his college years, Dualeh saw thousands of students come into his sessions, even some who were already in university and needed help with projects and dissertations.

Although Dualeh was excited to pursue a degree in IT, university wasn’t a walk in the park.

“I nearly dropped out within the first seven months because the classes were so tough. But I started staying at the library day and night, and when the tests came, I was first in my class,” remembers Dualeh.

Now, Dualeh works at Ria UK’s IT department and is married with two kids. Every couple of years, he’ll visit Somalia to see his parents, yet he can’t help but feel his children need to spend more time in their motherland.

“In my country, you don’t feel alone because everybody is like family. The children are playing outside, and if anything happens, anyone can come up to you and tell you to behave, even if you aren’t related. That’s how our community is. Everybody’s looking after you,” he shared.

somalian migrant wearing ria ribbon

Barriers to Identification: A Vital Question for the Remittance Industry

The most important factor when it comes to furthering financial inclusion isn’t money. It’s proper identification. Without a valid ID, individuals will have a hard time opting for jobs, opening bank accounts, or receiving government aid.

This is the case for close to one billion people, around one-seventh of the world’s population, according to the World Bank. About 47% of that billion are children without birth certificates who, from the get-go, are already at a disadvantage to acquire any form of ID as adults.

World Bank data also suggests that 91% of the population without official documentation is found in lower-middle and low-income countries, with India (161 million), Nigeria (140 million), and Pakistan (77 million) leading the chart. 

Large unregistered populations also pose a significant challenge in the age of digitization, where financial services are moving towards eKYC measures for customer identification. In turn, reducing access to these services will only slow down financial inclusion.

The Remittance Industry Observatory recently explored several barriers to accessing official documentation, ranging from lack of information to technological impediments.

Below, we offer a summary of key takeaways from the study, which shed some light on the reasoning behind these roadblocks and how we can go about removing them.


Current barriers to identification

Birth certificates: given it’s the minimum requirement, undocumented children cannot opt for official documentation anywhere in the world without proof of existence. Two common reasons for this issue include lack of education regarding civil registration among parents and non-hospital deliveries, according to the Carter Center.

Fees: for the many living in poverty, paying fees to process official documentation would mean going without food or medicine. Even in cases where documentation is processed for free, those living in rural areas will still need to pay for transportation to reach the nearest office.

Law and Society: in some countries, women need to provide more documents, such as a marriage certificate, to apply for an ID. Although within the specific society, laws are built in a way that its constituents can be accounted for, these documents don’t always travel well. Without a standard identification process, many will be landlocked. Refugees or internally displaced individuals may have fled their homes and left behind their documents. Without a system in place to replace these documents, how can these individuals be reinserted into the system?

Digitization: as we’ve discussed, innovation and change don’t happen at the same pace globally. Digitization is taking over in rich economies, but low-income countries will find it hard to fund what the World Bank and World Health Organization have estimated to be around $3.82 billion for a basic Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system. Thus, as money transfer operators, we can’t move on to a completely digital format, while so many countries won’t be able to implement the same identification measures in the near future.

Interoperability: even once digitization makes its way to low-income countries, many changes will need to be made to the existing infrastructure. Data from the civil registry, the social security databases, among others, will need to be cross-referenced in order to get accurate, representative data.

Looking ahead

Without proper identification, the individuals who need it most will not be able to break out of poverty, and financial inclusion efforts will remain stagnant. However, protocols must be in place to safeguard funds and data, which means we cannot forgo identification requirements altogether.

So, the question for the remittance industry remains: how do we continue serving customers who, often by no fault of their own, lack the proper identification needed to access purely digital remittance channels?

As a money transfer operator, we follow local government regulations rigorously, establishing an open dialogue on how to make the process of receiving money easier for these unbanked customers living in poverty.

While we can’t control or unify regulations worldwide, our promise is to continue offering traditional money transfer services to those who still rely on cash and physical locations, a number that is far higher than one might think

A World Without Immigrants

Forget massive stocks of fresh produce, your MacBook and every other Hollywood film. Immigrants, comprising less than 4% of the world population, have made many, if not most, of our favorite things possible.

From Arianna Huffington to Sundar Pichai, the C-suites of many beloved companies are made up of foreigners, including ours.

Because we live it first-hand, we are firm believers that diversity and inclusion are the driving forces behind innovation. But you don’t need to take our word for it.

Let’s explore the many ways in which migrants make the world a better place and what our societies would look like if everyone closed up their borders.

The impact on host economies

Out of all the billion-dollar startups headquartered in the country, 55% have been completely or partially founded by an immigrant.

As far as Canada is concerned, even counting with the inflow of immigrants (80% of the country’s population growth), the expected worker-to-retiree ratio for 2035 is of 2 to 1, a sharp decrease from the 1971 ratio of 7 to 1.

While the ratio continues to catch up, the immigrant community already in Canada have created 1,100 new Canadian companies, 60,000 new jobs and have filled 24,000 high-skilled vacancies.

In Europe, a study conducted by the French National Center for Investigation (CNRS), migrants have had a positive macroeconomic impact in 15 countries in western Europe between 1985 and 2015. 

For aging countries where death rates outnumber birth rates, growing the economy and revitalizing industries are not the only reasons youth injections are needed.

Retirees tend to be passive citizens, relying on pensions and government aid. It is up to the current workforce to replenishing government funds through taxes. But, what happens when there are more retired individuals than working ones?

For Spain, where the native-born population is in a constant decline and pension funding still represents a major challenge, immigration meant the population was able to increase by 276,186 in 2018.

Overall, immigrants represented a 70% increase in the European workforce and a 47% increase in the American one.

The impact on home countries

As impressive as the migrant economic output is within host countries, the most extraordinary phenomenon of all is the amount of money they are able to send home despite low salaries.

In 2018, migrant workers sent US$529 billion in remittances to low- and middle-income countries, a flow of funds that represented as much as 35% of a given country’s GDP.

This year, remittances are expected to surpass foreign direct investment after nearly a decade outperforming international aid by a threefold.

Depending on how remittances are used at the receiving end, they can help boost education, increase health coverage and promote investment.

A UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) study found that remittance-receiving households increased education spending by 35% in 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and by an average of 53% in Latin America.

Another study conducted at the North South University in Bangladesh found that surveyed remittance-receiving families allocated more than 25% of remittances for education and health.

In Mexico, international remittances are behind 25% of all capital invested in small and micro-enterprises, with regions with higher levels of migration to the United States investing as much as 40%.

If you’re interested, you can explore this topic more in-depth by reading our A Case for Affordable Remittances white paper here.

What is safe to say is that immigrants contribute to societies all over the world, and without them, international organizations would have to come up with at least three times as much aid funding for developing nations while citizens of rich countries would be forced to expand population beyond their economic capacity of personal preference.

The world belongs to everyone for we each have a vital role to play in its development. Let’s stand together and continue growing in the direction of a better quality of life for all.

A Brief History of Remittances and Immigration in Canada


We dont talk enough about Canadian immigration even though it is one of the largest melting pots by ratio. Last year alone, Canada admitted 321,065 immigrants. And, for the many migrant workers living in the Great White North, we also have big news! 

We just launched Rias Canadian transactional website, a platform through which customers can send money to their loved ones from the comfort of their homes. 

To celebrate, lets take a look at immigration in Canada and how it impacts remittances worldwide. 

Migrating to Canada 

Out of all members of the G8 (now G7), a council made up of the worlds most industrialized nations, the Great White North has the highest proportion of immigrants. Were talking about 7.5 million migrants, representing 20% of the overall population. 

As of today, the largest expat communities in Canada are Indian (668,565 residents) and Chinese (649,260), with most immigrants coming from Asia (Middle East inclusive). Hence, its not surprising that Chinese languages, Tagalog, Spanish and Punjabi are the most widely spoken after the official languages, English and French.  

Most immigrants in Canada live within the urban areas of Ontario, British Colombia, Quebec and Alberta, with the biggest concentrations found in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. 

Shapevia Canada.ca 

According to the last census, between British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, immigrants own 1,825,580 properties, which would account for around 23% of the migrant population. However, this number does include immigrants who own multiple houses. 

That being said, is it possible for immigrants to purchase homes? 

Well, their median income is of CA$55,700, while refugees who have been in the country for five years have a median income of CA$21,700.  Although less than half, this number had seen a 29% increase by 2016. 

Canada’s impact on remittances 

According to the World Bank, the top destinations for remittances sent from Canada in 2018 were China (US$4.144 billion), India (US$2.877 billion), Philippines (US$2.37 billion), France (US$1.297 billion), Vietnam (US$953 million), and Lebanon (US$853 million). 

However, a 2017 Canadian study focusing on residents born in Official Development Assistance-eligible countries (ODA), found that the Filipino community had made the most money transfers to friends and family that year. 

In general ODA terms, the majority of remitters were born in Southeast Asia and Oceania (57%) followed by Eastern Asia (11%). 

The study also found 59% o remitters sent money abroad to pay for living expenses like food and housing, while 43% sent money to pay for medical expenses. The most popular sending method among respondents was in-person at a money transfer store. 

In essence, its no surprise that many people like moving to Canada. The Great White North might be cold, but it sure is welcoming. 

Financial Inclusion: What We Need to Make it Work

Financial inclusion sounds like a great idea, but many of us are not aware of what exactly it entails. How do we truly bring this solution to communities in need, and how do these communities then thrive because of it?

Today, we’ll be answering the central questions surrounding financial inclusion, its adaptation, proliferation and eventual impact on marginalized societies worldwide.

Let’s take a look.

What is financial inclusion?

When we talk about fighting poverty, there are many approaches to be taken. It can mean ending world hunger by teaching communities to farm sustainably. It can also mean introducing universal health coverage to ensure medical treatment is available to every human on the planet.

But when we talk about financial inclusion, we are talking specifically about bringing those excluded from the financial system into it.

For the World Bank, financial inclusion is achieved when “individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.”

And to measure its proliferation, the FII (Financial Inclusion Institute) analyzes it “as the percentage of adults (15+ years old) who report having at least one account in their name with an institution that offers a full suite of financial services, and comes under some form of government regulation.”

For us as an international community, achieving financial inclusion means actively reaching several Sustainable Development Goals such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, ensuring health and well-being, promoting economic growth and jobs and reducing inequality.

via World Bank Blogs

How is it established?

According to the FII, unbanked adults need access to five basic financial services: savings, credit, money transfers, insurance and investment. These could be gained through banks, mobile money service provides or nonbank financial institutions.

However, individuals that possess accounts solely connected to microfinance institutions (MFIs) or that access financial services indirectly through a friend or a third-party account are not considered financially included. The same can be said for those who only use money guards, savings collectors or digital recharge cards.

Instead, financial inclusion is delivered and established through banks, credit unions and cooperatives, as well as businesses that offer innovative services, often tied to technology, that reach those living in rural areas with no access to traditional channels.

What is the impact?

Before truly grasping the impact of financial inclusion, we have to understand what it means to be financially excluded. When a person lacks a financial identity, it means they can’t receive government aid, apply for credit or take out loans. This encourages and sustains day-to-day living, what is known in the rich world as paycheck-to-paycheck, and chains these underserved adults to a cycle of poverty.

Through financial inclusion, the cycle can be broken. When unbanked individuals gain access to financial services, they can begin saving for unforeseen circumstances or investment, take out mortgages, launch small enterprises or plan ahead for recurring expenses such as school tuitions. Above all, it creates a safe and efficient channel through which to receive money, what we call remittances, from loved ones living abroad.

via World Bank

How do we ensure financial inclusion is achieved?

The World Bank Group launched the Universal Financial Access 2020 (UFA2020) initiative, which intends to enable one billion adults to access what they call “the basic building block to manage their financial lives,” a transaction account to store money. The project counts with over 30 partners who have pledged to further financial inclusion.

At the same time, money transfer operators, banks and post offices—the more well-known routes for sending funds to middle and low-income countries—are also working together to implement innovative solutions to extend their reach even further.

Hopefully, you now have a better grasp on financial inclusion and how it’s been put in place. If you have any other question, feel free to ask away in the comments below or start a conversation with us on Twitter!

A Brief History of Migration and Remittances in Ukraine

Throughout its history, Ukraine has been caught in the crossfire of clashing civilizations, a phenomenon that has deeply marked the country’s identity. Even its Proto-Slavic name, “Ukraine,” means “borderland.” 

At its historical height, Ukraine had become the center of the largest and most powerful European state, Kyvian Rus, which set the foundation for modern-day Ukrainian culture. And although the independent state only lasted from around the year 880 to the early 13th century, Ukraine remains a strategic convergence point in the East. 

After fending off those looking to profit from its location, Ukraine declared its independence in 1918, but was absorbed by the Soviet Union shortly thereafter. At last, with the fall of Soviet Russia, Ukraine gained its permanent independence on August 24, 1991. 

To honor Ukraine’s 28th birthday, let’s take a look at the country’s relationship with migration and remittances. 

Ukrainian migration 

Although the most recent statistics report 5.9 million Ukrainians living abroad, there is reason to believe the number is much higher. 

For instance, despite a heavy inflow of immigrants, Ukraine’s population has decreased from 51,838,500 to 42,153,200 in the past 30 years. 

In 2017, the World Bank observed a 22% jump in remittances from US$9.47 billion in 2016 to US$12 billion, suggesting a parallel increase in Ukrainian expatriates. 

infographic of immigration and remittances in ukraine 

At the same time, an estimate of 5 million immigrants are currently residing in Ukraine, the majority hailing from the Russian Federation (nearly 3.5 million), Belarus (258,000) and Kazakhstan (234,000). 

According to the Migration Data Portal, Ukraine has a fair migration governance system. While there is still room for growth regarding crisis-related displacement and university fees for internationals, there are many laws already put in place that preserve the integrity of immigrants from access to social security to affordable primary and secondary education. 

Ukraine received $14.4 billion in remittances last year, equating to 11.4% of the country’s GDP, according to the World Bank. Unsurprisingly, most of these remittances originated in the Russian Federation (over US$4 billion), followed by the United States (US$629 million) and Germany (US$369 million). 

However, Ukraine is also an important source of remittances for countries like Moldova (US$249 million), Georgia (US$145 million) and Belarus (US$184 million). On top of that,Ukraine residents also manage to send back US$2.5 billion to the Russian Federation and US$259 million to Germany. 

This shows a symbiotic relationship between sending and receiving destinations, which in turn could indicate a larger convergence between Eastern Europeans than the region’s history would have us believe. 


Could Bank Deposit Networks Contribute to Financial Inclusion?

Moving to a new country can be exciting, but it can also be a hassle. From signing leases to opening bank accounts, becoming a full-fledged resident of a new city or country can be hard, especially when you don’t speak the language.

At the same time, many migrants take out loans to move abroad, leave behind mortgages that need paying, or simply have family members who depend on their income to make ends meet.

To offer a solution, money transfer operators (MTOs) like Ria have teamed up with banks around the world to facilitate direct deposits to accounts back home.

As a leading money transfer company, Ria has developed the largest, most comprehensive bank deposit network in the industry, reaching 3.1 billion bank accounts across 116 countries. What’s more, we are directly connected to local banking switches, ensuring a seamless, efficient and secure user experience.

This level of capillarity is beneficial for our sending customers as it provides them with an unmatched breadth of banks and branches, helping them reach family members wherever they may be. And what’s best, offering this service helps foster true financial inclusion.

Below, we go over some of the reasons why.

Bank deposits are cost-effective

In rural areas of the world, sometimes the nearest financial service point is hours away. This means that, for a person to collect cash money, they need to pay for transportation, an expense that takes away from the amount the beneficiary is receiving.

However, that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar locations aren’t necessary. In fact, there are still 1.7 billion unbanked adults that rely on traditional channels to receive financial support from their loved ones abroad.

Access to banks promotes investment

When migrants have access to banking services back home, they feel more comfortable with mortgages or taking out loans for investing. Having access to a local bank empowers them to participate in their home economies, even if they are far away, and allows them to better organize their family’s finances as well as their own.

In general, obtaining a financial identity opens up those previously unbanked to a whole new world of possibilities. For instance, they can apply for loans or apply for aid.

world map against city background


Having a bank account helps develop saving habits

Not all money transfers are made for immediate use. Oftentimes, migrants will actually send money home for their families to put into savings accounts. In these cases, a direct bank deposit would reduce costs and save the family a journey to the point of sale and bank.

In fact, customers living in the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Canada and Australia who want to pay in card can even process their deposit seamlessly through our online channel, no required minimum.

Conversely, families who do want to make use of some of the money sent can also benefit from having a bank account. Knowing the leftover funds are safe in the bank can encourage them to spend only what’s truly necessary.

Our commitment to financial inclusion

In order to achieve true financial inclusion, simultaneous efforts must be put in motion. This way, customers will be able to benefit from tailored services that fit their needs.

That’s why, at Ria, we challenge ourselves every day to find new and better ways to transfer money.  

As Ousmane Ba, Ria’s Bank Deposit Product Owner, shared, “In our aim to continue satisfying our customers’ needs through diversifying our payout methods, Ria’s extensive bank deposit network serves as a channel for millions of migrants to send money hassle-free to their own or families’ bank accounts. This service is key to the promotion of financial inclusion in line with local governments’ objectives across the globe, as well the World Bank’s UFA2020 (Universal Financial Access by 2020) initiative.

Perhaps there is more than one way to reach financial inclusion, but it is our duty as an international community to continue striving simultaneously to better the lives of the underserved.