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Asia Pacific bucks global trends as a bright spot for remittance activity: Visa study

SINGAPORE, June 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Remittance flows in Asia Pacific have softened in the past year amid persistent inflationary pressures and tightening labour markets in the high-income host economies of overseas foreign and migrant workers. Yet, high growth emerging markets in Asia Pacific, such as mainland China, India and the Philippines remain a bright spot for continued remittance activity, driven by the pursuit to drive positive change and progress at home.

(PRNewsfoto/Visa)
(PRNewsfoto/Visa)

According to Visa's annual "Money Travel: 2024 Digital Remittances Adoption" research report, these markets continue to beat the odds despite macroeconomic headwinds that have resulted in remittances decreasing across the globe.

  • India, the world's top remittance receiving market in 2023, continues to account for the highest remittance outbound and inbound flows in the region, as the majority send (86%) and receive (85%) money at least once per year.

  • The Philippines, too, saw limited change from the year prior, as 79% and 84% of Filipinos expect to send and receive money respectively, at least once per year.

  • Driving consistent growth rates are the increasing prevalence of digital platforms to facilitate remittance transactions. Consistently favoured globally, markets such as India, mainland China and Singapore go as far as exceeding the global averages in the proportion of remittances sent and received in these markets.

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The importance of swift, convenient, and secure payments for supporting overseas education is especially highlighted in markets like mainland China and India, largely driven by a desire to enhance future opportunities for the next generation.

"The power of remittances in uplifting ecosystems and economies across the globe is well-understood. However, what can't be overstated is the outsized impact of digital solutions in accelerating and strengthening the impact of every single dollar sent and received. Notably, remittances via mobile money increased by 48% in 2021, highlighting a shift towards digital wallets especially in Asia Pacific and Latin America[1]," said Chavi Jafa, Head of Commercial and Money Movement Solutions, Asia Pacific, Visa. "At Visa, we recognise the enduring importance of remittances, especially in emerging markets, and are committed to building digital solutions that lay the groundwork for more efficient, reliable and transparent ways to move money."

Amid declining remittance rates, digital is a core driver of growth

Visa's "Money Travels: 2024 Digital Remittances Adoption" research report examines consumer habits and preferences of nearly 45,000[2] remittance senders and receivers across 20 markets. Highlights of the study include:

  • While remittance usage declined in most markets due to inflation, there are bright spots on the horizon. More than half (58%) expect to send more or the same amount of money overseas this year with mainland China (91%), India (74%), and the United Arab Emirates (73%) leading the way.

  • Digital app-based remittances are the top method amongst consumers across all surveyed markets globally, except in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Globally, 67% of remittance users sent or plan to send using digital apps. Across Asia Pacific, digital apps were universally lauded for superior user experiences underscored by accessibility. Markets such as India, the Philippines, and Singapore exceeded global averages, with over 70% of remittance users having used an app-based digital payment method to send and receive money internationally.

  • However, accessibility can sometimes come at a cost. Globally, over one-third (36%) of respondents have been offered a free transfer when sending cash, checks, or money orders, only to find out there were hidden fees. The lack of transparency in service terms is also an issue in selected Asia Pacific markets, dampening consumer experiences. Up to 50% of respondents in the region were offered a free transfer via digital means only to find out that there were hidden fees. This pain point is especially acute in all Asia Pacific markets, especially in India (55%), Philippines (53%) and mainland China (51%).

Jafa continues, "Across Asia Pacific, governments are focused on widespread digitalisation of their economies — and in no area has this been more pronounced than in the modernisation and digitisation of financial services across the region. As consumer demands and habits evolve in turn, we're now seeing these efforts pay off first-hand as Asia Pacific leads in the adoption of app-based remittances compared to other markets across the globe. With the digital agenda taking centre stage for policymakers in the region, the adoption of digital payments is set to intensify in the years to come."

Enabling remittance to and from Asia Pacific

Visa works in collaboration with global remitters such as Brightwell, Thunes, Remitly, Western Union and Asia United Bank (AUB) to help enable efficient money movement through digitized remittances.

In Asia Pacific, Visa saw a twofold increase in digital remittances over the last two years[3], highlighting the accelerated pace and clients' demand at which remittance flows are increasing in the region. In particular, the Philippines market has demonstrated remarkable robustness, accounting for more than 60%[4] of all inbound remittance transaction volumes in Asia Pacific, with mainland China and India also experiencing similar acceleration in inbound remittances in recent years. The partnership with AUB has been instrumental in establishing the Philippines as a key receiver market for Visa, further cementing its position as a central hub for remittances in the region. This robust performance is indicative of the increasing confidence in the Philippines' digitalisation journey and its capacity to handle growing volumes of money movement efficiently.

"At Asia United Bank, we deeply understand the critical role that remittances play in the lives of countless Filipinos and we are committed to making a profound difference to families, communities and economies, not just here in the Philippines, but around the world," said Abraham T. Co, Vice Chairman, Asia United Bank Corp. "Our long-standing partnership with Visa is a testament to this commitment, enabling us to provide fast, easy, and secure digital remittance. Our bank app allows users to make fast, secure, and convenient digital transfers at their fingertips. These remittances, sent and received in a day, are critical to supporting Filipinos' daily needs and major milestones. We're not just moving money, we're moving lives forward."

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted by Morning Consult during December 2023March 2024 among a sample of 40,000+ remittance senders and receivers across North & Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. The interviews were conducted online. Within each country, survey respondents are weighted based on census estimates for age, race/ethnicity, gender, education, and region.

About Visa

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at Visa.com.

[1] The economic empowerment of digital remittances: How to unlock the benefits of innovation and competition Oct 2022

[2] The "Money Travels: 2024 Annual Remittances Adoption" report surveyed 43,789 remittance users across North & Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.

[3] Comparison of FY21 versus FY24 Visa cross-border send to account and wallet, receive transaction volumes.

[4] Data derived from the FY23 Asia Pacific cross-border send to account and wallet, receive transaction volume, by markets.

 

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SOURCE Visa