Gulf money transfers rise to $72b

DUBAI — UAE’s buoyant money transfer business, estimated at $27 billion per annum, is projected to sustain growth at 20 per cent as the country has not been impacted by the US subprime crisis, leading global remittance industry experts said.

By Issac John (Deputy Business Editor)

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Published: Mon 28 Apr 2008, 10:14 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:45 AM

Lady Olga Maitland, Chief Executive Officer of the London-based International Association of Money Transfer Networks, said the UAE will remain as the hub of the payment industry in the Gulf region, currently estimated by the World Bank to be $72 billion.

Speaking ahead of the first Money Transfers Dubai Conference opening today, Lady Olga said only half of the global money transfer business is being officially recorded. Quoting World Bank findings, Lady Olga said the latest statistics shows that the recorded remittances across the world are estimated to be $500 billion, but in reality the total size of the payments industry would be twice as much at $1 trillion.

However, according to the Migration and Remittances Factbook 2008, a snapshot of statistics on remittance flows for 194 countries, worldwide remittance flows are estimated to have exceeded $318 billion in 2007 — up seven per cent — of which developing countries received $240 billion. “The true size, including unrecorded flows through the formal and informal channels, is believed to be significantly larger.” India topped the global list of the remittance recipients with $27 billion, followed by China with $25.7 billion.

Lady Olga said one of the segments which is poised to revolutionise the remittance industry is the cellphone payments sector. “There has been a significant down trend in unofficial or hawala transactions from the Gulf as a result of the advancements and innovations in the regulated transaction sector,” she said.

Today’s conference will open with a keynote speech by Abdulrahim Mohammed Al Awadi, Assistant Executive Director and Head of Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit, UAE Central Bank, UAE. He will be addressing the regulatory framework in which a successful economy can thrive.

According to the World Bank, the US was main remittance source. While South-South migration nearly equals South-North migration, rich countries are still the main remittances source, led by the United States.

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