International Day of Family Remittances: a recognition of the fundamental contribution of migrant workers

Photo source: Medium

If you take a look at your calendar, you’ll come to realize that there are many International Days – and more being added every year – celebrated all over the world!

International Day of Family Remittances is one of them and is annually celebrated on June 16th. Although it was fairly recently established (in 2015 at the opening of the Fifth Global Forum on Remittances and Development in Milan), that doesn’t make it less important. Quite the opposite!

What is it all about?

International Day of Family Remittances celebrates the sacrifices and the contribution made by migrant workers to support the families they left back home. Thousands of migrants – i.e. individuals living in a different country than the one they were born in – leave their country every year hoping to find better work opportunities and improve the lives of those they leave behind.

In the past few years, the number of international migrants has grown on an unprecedented scale. According to estimates, 250 million international migrants live outside their home country. Remittances – understand the money migrant workers send to their family members who remained back home – are crucial in supporting the lives of millions of individuals in developing countries. Believe it or not, 750 million people worldwide rely on remittances to either live a better life or simply survive.

Remittances do make a difference in the lives of many. Unfortunately, some beneficiaries, especially in rural communities, have a hard time accessing financial services as a whole and benefiting from remittances. The idea behind International Day of Family Remittances is to encourage public and private players to push for developments in the sector and ensure that these funds have a long-lasting positive impact on the populations they are meant for.

Did you know that:

  1. A migrant worker usually sends between US$200 or US$300 several times a year;
  2. According to official figures, remittances topped US$450 billion in 2015 (that is more than 3 times the overall development aid budget) and US$600 billion in 2016.
  3. In many cases, the remittances received represent more than half the income of the recipients.
  4. The top 3 most valuable corridors in the world are USA-Mexico (with more than US$22bn), UAE-India (with more than US$15bn) and USA-China (with more than US$13bn)

How to get the most out of your money transfers?

The number of transfer operators has never been as high and the options to remit money back home are multiple. There has been a clear tendency in the past few years towards a decrease in overall transaction costs – still, some operators charge very high transaction fees, especially to send money back to Africa– making it possible for migrant workers to remit on a regular basis.

To make the most out of your money transfers:

  • Remember that you don’t have to stick to your bank to remit. Cheaper options do exist – in some instances going through one of the many transfer operators is preferable;
  • Know that there are many transfer operators out there so make sure to shop around for the best and lowest rates before making your pick;
  • Pay attention to hidden charges especially by identifying the exact exchange rate.

For more about International Day of Family Remittances visit the UN’s website.