The recent Pakistan floods have been devastating for the country, impacting 33 million people since June and causing a state of emergency to be declared in late August. With an estimated $30bn lost so far to the disaster, there has been a need for donations to charitable causes and personal remittances, and some money transfer players have adjusted their services in response.
Pakistan is, even in normal times, a significant receiver of remittances. FXC Intelligence data shows that the country received flows totalling $31.3bn in 2021, accounting for 4.9% of flows globally.
It is notable that, out of the companies we identified, the majority are running support in countries in the Middle East, where there are large numbers of Pakistani migrants living and working, whereas we saw less initiatives among companies operating in the West.
While a temporary removal of remittance costs was a common offering, many specifically highlighted donations, providing ways to donate to the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund or other similar causes without paying additional cross-border transfer fees. The Commercial Bank of Dubai took this further, with the direct donation of profits from all sending destinations during a fixed period.
Others, meanwhile, opted to provide trustworthy information rather than direct financial assistance. Digital remittances player Taptap Send, for example, provided its customers with a list of trusted organisations to donate to in a bid to counter online scams abusing the goodwill of would-be donors.
The moves are reminiscent of steps taken during the invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, when several money transfer players waived fees to the country. In both cases however, there is a focus on digital remittances, as many cash pick-up locations are out of action as a result of the events.
This may be a particular challenge in rural Pakistan, where efforts following the 2009 Pakistan Remittance Initiative saw the establishment of large numbers of pay-out locations across the country. However, there are signs that the country is moving towards digital for pay-outs; leading player ACE Money Transfer, for example, paid 55% of remittances as cash deposits in 2021.
How are global remittances players competing on pricing?