By Joshua Gordon-Blake
The personal relevance of a remittance is key to understanding its power as a loyalty opportunity.
For customers, sending or receiving money cross-border is a very personal act. More than 50 percent of senders report that their primary reason for immigration is to send money home, and receivers depend on the transferred funds to cover essential costs such as food and utilities.
What mortgages or student loans are to any young urban professional, remittances are to each of the millions of immigrants who leave their home countries each year in search of a way to support their family — it is their most important financial decision.
If customers can trust your institution with their most personal financial choice, then — presuming you continue to earn their trust — you can maintain them as customers across other financial products.
Impact of Technology
Tech innovation is rapidly changing the remittance market and one of the most substantial changes continues to be the move to mobile.
The premium (and personal) user experience offered through mobile is key to leveraging remittances to create a lasting customer relationship. A study from Juniper Research, which surveyed roughly 3,000 money transfer users from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, revealed that more than 83 percent of respondents expressed an interest in sending money internationally via mobile. With smartphone penetration surpassing 80 percent in many immigrant groups, the stage is set to convert a transactional experience (e.g. traditional remittances) into a customer relationship.
An estimated $582 billion was sent by migrants to family and friends in their home countries in 2015 — and remittance market growth is on the rise. As globalization continues to influence payments and consumers increasingly become mobile-centric, the opportunity to deliver value through the money transfer experience grows. With that opportunity, banks may also gain access to new revenue streams and the potential to deepen customer engagement and loyalty.
Competition in the remittance market is fierce as well-funded startups have already caused a meaningful shift by offering a premium digital user experience. While the market for remittances is huge — the World Bank projected that remittances to developing countries will increase by 3.3 percent, reaching $444 billion this year — how does a bank enter the market?
The rapidly changing technology landscape leaves banks with two choices to use remittances to differentiate and increase retention — build an industry-leading technology offering or partner with a technology provider.
International money transfer startups from around the world have partnered with banks to offer their premium user experience to the bank’s customers. This provides banks with both a fresh pipeline of a new customer base, and increases retention by allowing customers to access the best remittance experience without leaving the bank’s ecosystem.
A good technology partner will enable banks to offer a premium user experience, to navigate the regulatory compliance obstacles specific to international money transfers, and to market to a new customer base.
Premium User Experience
While money movement across borders is complex, providing customers with a premium experience requires simplifying the process.
This can be done by enabling users to pay and accept funds in their preferred methods, rapid onboarding and know your customer, and clear and transparent pricing. It’s also important for banks to remember the various challenges faced by customers who send funds to other countries, such as language barriers, financial illiteracy and minimal credit history.
Optimizing the global money transfer experience — and standing out against a growing number of fintech alternatives — means banks must go the extra mile to ensure the remittance services offered are focused on the needs of those who rely on them the most.
By keeping customer needs front and center, while also taking advantage of new digital opportunities, banks can use remittances to differentiate their financial services, open revenue streams and establish a loyal customer base.
Joshua Gordon-Blake is vice president of global partnerships at Pangea. For more information, visit www.pangeamoneytransfer.com.