Lending a hand far from home

16.06.2019 - On the International Day of Family Remittances, UPU Director General says policy-makers and partners need look no further than the Post to offer accessible and affordable money transfer services for the 200 million migrants and their 800 million family members who need them.

“The question for governments, international organizations and consumer groups has been how to reduce costs by finding alternative providers capable of delivering services that are cost-effective and reliable.  They need not look further than their local post office,” said UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein in his statement on the awareness day.

“As a historically trusted public service provider with a vast global network, the Post is a natural partner for financial inclusion, including the delivery of affordable and easily accessible global remittance services,” he added. 

Affordability and accessibility are the two key drivers of a years-long partnership between the UPU and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to develop domestic and international remittance services for the Burundian diaspora through the postal network.

In 2017, the World Bank estimated the country’s inward remittances at USD 33.51 million, but with global private money transfer organizations (MTO) dominating the market, Burundian migrants lacked access to low-cost services to transfer money home to their families. The project’s goal was to reduce remittance costs from 10 to 3 percent and provide access to previously unreached rural and remote communities by making the service available in each of the country’s post offices across its 18 provinces.

Olivier Boussard, UPU project coordinator, says, “By joining forces and sharing our different expertise, we have not only been able to provide migrants and their families with a concrete and tangible solution to their money transfer needs, but, more broadly, we have been able to foster the financial inclusion of Burundians in remote and rural areas.”

Launched domestically in 2017, the service – known as “Rungika”, or “send” in the Kirundi language – is now the cheapest one available within Burundi. Rungika customers have already made more than 19,000 domestic transactions through the service, which is offered by the Burundian National Postal Service (RNP) via a mobile app developed by the UPU using its secure and reliable International Financial System for worldwide postal payments.

The service’s first international corridor was launched with Belgium in 2018 thanks to a partnership with RIA Money Transfer. Now Burundians living in Belgium can visit any RIA sales point to send money back home through the Rungika service.

The project was recently recognized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) as a good practice on its Sustainable Development Goals Partnership Platform, but the work is not over yet. New payment corridors are soon expected to open in the coming years.

The International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) is a UN global awareness day recognizing the contribution that the world’s more than 200 million migrants have on supporting their millions of family members, communities and their countries. To learn more, please visit: https://www.un.org/en/events/family-remittances-day/

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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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