Sending money home: a survey of remittance products and services in the United Kingdom

Sending money home: a survey of remittance products and services in the United Kingdom

Improving UK remittance services for migrants

This report provides comparable and accessible information on the products and services available to people wanting to send money home from the UK to developing countries. The report aims to increase transparency on costs, speed of money transfer, and the coverage and customer service that banks, building societies and money transfer operators offer in the UK. It also looks at service provision (provider coverage, services offered, costs etc.) in the following countries: Bangladesh; China; Ghana; India; Kenya; and Nigeria.

Key findings include:

  • there is a perceived lack of information available for those wanting to send money home, they therefore rely on word-of-mouth
  • services required from remittance providers tend to vary based on the type of remittance a user sends. The final purpose of the remittance determines the urgency. Security is the overriding factor in choosing a money transfer provider. Speed and cost are traded off against this. A further decision factor is the distribution network in the receiving country
  • provider choice is limited by the coverage of branch outlets in the receiving country, as well as the location of outlets in the UK
  • MTOs (Money Transfer Operator) are used most often because, in addition to providing security through wellknown brand names, they have a strong presence in the UK and in receiving countries
  • MTOs offer relatively favourable rates – particularly for African countries and for people sending smaller amounts. They are also seen to offer speed and convenience, in conjunction with trusted brand names
  • small, urgent transfers are a common remittance type, yet banks and building societies are perceived as costly and slow. Where both sender and recipient hold an account with the bank, the process is faster than if there is only one account holder
  • often security is with poor country-specific banks. This should be addressed to improve the perception of country-specific channels
  • banks in particular are not seen to address culturally specific requirements, and should train their staff to consider the needs of customers in areas with a large number of residents from a particular ethnic group or speaking a particular language
  • an appropriate service improvement would be to offer free confirmation on all transactions, whether this is by email, text SMS or telephone call
  • identification requirements stipulated by UK banks and building societies are seen as an inconvenience and are confusing. The level of confusion around ID indicates a strong need for work by banks and MTOs to increase financial literacy and to make their ID needs understood.