OFWs seen paying $3.1B in bank charges this year

A member of Congress has called for cuts in the “excessive” transfer fees imposed by foreign and local banks as well as global payment processing firms on the personal cash remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“We reckon that Filipino workers abroad will spend $3.1 billion in bank charges when they send home $29.3 billion this year,” ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto ‘John’ Bertiz III said on the occasion of Migrant Workers’ Day.

The nation marks June 7 of every year as Migrant Workers’ Day to celebrate the valuable economic contributions of OFWs, who have been hailed as modern-day heroes.

“A migrant Filipino worker pays an average of $10.57 in bank charges for every $100 wired home,” Bertiz said.

Citing a World Bank (WB) study titled “Remittance Prices Worldwide,” Bertiz said the global average cost of a personal cash transfer through bank channels was 10.57 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

“Slashing remittance fees by half would easily mean $1.5 billion in cost-savings and extra cash in the pockets of migrant Filipino workers and their families here,” Bertiz said.

“There’s really no reason why banks cannot reduce fees, considering that non-bank money transfer agents are already charging as low as three percent,” Bertiz pointed out.

Despite the growth of non-bank remittance channels, Bertiz said Filipinos still prefer to send their money home via banks.

In the first quarter of 2018, OFWs remitted $7 billion through the banking system, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

In the whole of 2017, they wired home $28.1 billion using bank channels, the BSP said.

All told,  the Philippines received a total of $33 billion in personal cash remittances in 2017, according to a separate WB report.

The report implies that $4.9 billion in remittances last year were coursed outside of the banking system.

The Philippines is the world’s third-largest recipient of personal cash remittances, after India and China, the WB said.(HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES)