Unlocking the Economic Empowerment of Digital Remittances
Remittances are crucial for the global economy and the prosperity of developing communities. This is especially true in the GCC, which is home to millions of expatriate workers responsible for supporting families in their home countries. The UAE and Saudi Arabia account for two of the top three countries around the world for originating remittance payments.
Meanwhile, globally, an estimated 800m people receive money from loved ones to pay for things like food, education, or even unforeseen medical costs1. According to the World Bank and KNOMAD, 29 countries received over 10% of their GDP in remittances in 2022, while seven received over 25% of their GDP this way2. In the UAE alone digital remittances account for a ~$35bn per year market3.
Remittances require a nonstop network that can quickly and securely move money, ensuring that the recipients have funds in hand to make everyday purchases and pay for their basic needs. Visa’s recent “Money Travels: 2023 Digital Remittances Adoption” study identifies the progress – and barriers that remain – in how money travels abroad.
Among the countries surveyed were Saudi Arabia and the UAE where digital is becoming the most popular way to move money internationally, benefitting from a safer, faster and more private experience. For instance, 70% of consumers surveyed in the UAE and Saudi Arabia use digital apps to send and receive funds internationally, compared to 53% globally. Meanwhile only 3% in the UAE and 4% in Saudi Arabia don’t expect to adopt digital remittances methods in the future.
On the occasion of the International Day of Family Remittances, it is important to recognize the emergence of digitalization as a proven innovative solution to remittance challenges, offering new business models and global network capabilities that can bring speed, transparency and cost savings for people who depend on them. In the GCC alone, the rise of digital remittances demonstrates the power of choice — digitally enabled migrant workers can more easily compare providers and costs to choose the best options for their families4. With collaboration from the private and public sectors and investment in innovative technologies Visa is confident that we can continue to advance digital enablement across borders.