Wednesday, 15 June 2016 05:47

Mobile international remittances: $25 billion-plus by 2018

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With this figure rising to "4% of total international remittance by value", international remittances, including airtime top-ups via mobile phones, "will exceed $25 billion by 2018, up 67% from an estimated $15 billion in 2015".

The news comes from the gurus at Juniper Research, who found "a significant upsurge in international remittance activity in the past two years, with a number of cross-border mobile remittance services being deployed".

For example, we’re told, "PayPal-owned Xoom announced in April 2016 that it will expand its services to 13 new recipient countries".

Juniper’s research found that "international mobile money transfers are forecast to grow in frequency in all regions as users become more accustomed to using the service. Higher value transactions are also forecast, going forward".



Digital disruption driving mobile remittances

The new research, entitled ‘Digital Money Transfer & Remittances: Domestic & International Markets 2016-2021’ (which as per usual is on sale to relevant parties at relevant prices,) noted that "the international remittance market is increasingly being disrupted by a proliferation of smaller, agile ‘pure-play’ digital providers such as PayPal Xoom and WorldRemit".

Research author Nitin Bhas said: “Previously dominated by Western Union and MoneyGram, the international mobile money transfer market is becoming increasingly competitive with these new mobile remittance providers offering markedly lower prices than the established players.”

Bhas pointed out that "London-based start-up TransferWise offers more of a direct threat to the traditional players, as it offers extremely low (0.5%) transaction fees for higher value ($295+) transactions".

More below, please read on. 

Additionally, Juniper’s research found that "mobile international remittances will also have an impact on remittances via informal channels — i.e. the ‘grey remittance’ market composed primarily of cash  by offering a lower-cost alternative to traditional remittance services".

Airtime top-up surges

The research also found that "while international cash remittance growth had slowed, transaction volumes have surged in the airtime top-up market, where service providers are not required to obtain money licences".

The simplicity of airtime and the need to facilitate basic P2P money flow means "that these still represent the initial deployments in many markets. It also enables the sender of the remittance to control precisely what that remittance will be used for".

However, Juniper states that "the international airtime transfer segment represented very high commission rates when compared to international remittance. Nevertheless, Juniper forecasts that the total number of mobile international airtime top-up transactions will approach half a billion for the first time in 2018".

Naturally, there’s also a new white paper, entitled ‘Disrupting International Remittance’ which is available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the full research.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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