Global financial institution and state lender, the World Bank recently published its latest brief on migration and development data and the highlight of the report is the latest figures on global remittances. According to the World Bank, in 2017 total annual remittances to low and middle-income countries rose to a record US$466 billion.
This number is an 8.5% increase from a US$429 billion total recorded in 2016. All global regions experienced improved remittances with leader countries for specific regions recording strong and solid inflows. India registered the highest remittances inflows of US$69 billion followed by China with US$64 billion, the Philippines (US$33 billion), Mexico (US$31 billion), Nigeria (US$22 billion) and Egypt (US$20 billion).
The global market for remittances – which also takes into account remittances for high-income countries – also recorded an increase from $573 billion in 2016 to $613 billion in 2017, a 7% increase.
According to the World Bank, the increase in global remittances was powered by growth in Europe, the Russian Federation, and the United States and aided by increased oil prices and firmer performances from currencies like the Euro and Russia’s ruble.
The figures recorded for low and middle-income countries in 2017 are anticipated to increase this year, with the World Bank making an estimate of a 4.1 percent rise to take the total to $485 billion. Global remittances are expected to grow to $642 billion a 4.6 percent increase.
Together with a brief on the issues affecting remittances growth like the risks of transit migration, the report also zeroed in on the high costs of remittances especially for regions like Sub Saharan Africa with the highest charges in the world. The average cost of remittances to countries in this region is 9.4%, which exceeds the global average of 7.1%.
Technology is referenced as one of the solutions to reducing the barriers to remittances, especially regarding high charges. Cryptocurrencies are emerging as one such solution to this challenge.
In Africa. startups like Golix have embraced these digital currencies as a tool for remittances, providing an avenue for sending and receiving money across all borders with the lowest possible charges and added advantages such as micro-transactions and the elimination of middlemen that have requirements which migrants are often unable to meet.