A welcome surprise, zero fees on remittance


PETALING JAYA: I may not know much about banking and monetary transactions across borders, but I stumbled upon a great deal when using my eRemit app today to send some funds to a friend who runs a shelter for cats in India.

After the transaction, I realised that it was completed with zero charges. I know enough that there is something not right but it turned out to be all okay as far as Merchantrade Asia, the company behind eRemit, was concerned.

Today, June 16, the international financial industry celebrated its annual International Day of Family Remittances.

In conjunction with the special occasion, Merchantrade Asia had a one-day only offer of zero fees on all remittances to anywhere in the world, no matter how much was being transferred. And this was available via the eRemit app, as well as over the counter.

Looking into the background behind this special day, I found out that it stems from a need to create awareness on the amount of money that traverses the globe thanks to the millions of migrant workers who send money to their home countries.

The International Day of Family Remittances is spearheaded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad), which is an international financial institution and a specialised United Nations agency based in Rome.

Its objective is to create awareness that the estimated money sent back by migrant workers to their relatives – via remittances – supports another 750 million people worldwide.

The amount that these migrants remit may be relatively small – typically USD200 or USD300 – and made a few times a year, but it often represents 50 percent or more of their families’ income back home.

Merchantrade Asia is one such company that has grown on the back of these migrant customers in Malaysia as well as that of thousands of locals sending money overseas to their children.

In 2015 alone, Merchantrade Asia was Malaysia’s largest money services provider with over RM4.5 billion of remittance moved globally and a market share of 22 percent. That’s quite an achievemet for a company that first started operations in 2007, just nine years ago.