Saturday, 2 January 2010

Remittances via non-banks still hefty

by Eileen A. Mencias
Manila Standard

Bangko Sentral said it expects remittances coursed through non-bank or informal channels to amount to $600 million in 2009.

Remittances in 2009 are expected to hit $17.7 billion, including those coursed through informal channels.

Informal channels include door-to-door delivery, or those sent to beneficiaries by couriers.

Remittances coursed through informal channels in the past few years accounted for about 5 percent of the total. They are expected to account for about 3 percent of the total as the remittance services of banks expand their reach.

Data from the central bank show that remittances coursed through informal channels amounted to $400 million in the first three quarters of 2009.

The central bank expects banks to account for almost 99 percent of remittances this year when the amount is forecast to hit $18.1 billion.

Remittances in the first 10 months of 2009 rose 4.5 percent to $14.32 billion from $13.71 billion year-on-year. Remittances in October grew 6.7 percent year- on-year, slightly lower than the 8.6-percent growth reported in September when money for school tuition started coming in.

Remittances from Filipinos working abroad reached $1.53 billion in October, the highest monthly level recorded by the central bank, as they sent additional money for rebuilding after the damage wreaked by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi.

The United States remains the biggest source of remittances, accounting for $6.02 billion in the 10-month period, down by 8.67 percent from $6.59 billion a year ago.

Filipinos in the US sent $663.14 million to their beneficiaries here in October, the most they sent in any given month in 2009.

Citibank waived its fees for wire transfers right after Ondoy while Bank of the Philippine Islands suspended charges on remittances sent through Wells Fargo.

Remittances from the Middle East, meanwhile, totalled $2.21 billion during the period, up 4.86 percent on year.

Remittances from Asia increased 13.08 percent to $1.72 billion, fueled by the 29-percent jump in money sent from Singapore to $551.89 million and the 44.6-percent expansion from Japan to $651 million from $450.14 million.

Remittances from Europe grew 14.06 percent to $2.57 billion from $2.26 billion a year ago.

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