Remittances sent by overseas migrant workers to relatives in developing countries has been rapidly growing and is estimated to reach $540 billion by 2016. The rapid uptake of mobile phone use in low-income countries has opened new possibilities for facilitating these remittance flows as an important finance source for developing countries.
The issue of remittances and mobile money will be addressed at an UNCTAD high-level event planned for June as part of UNCTAD's 50 Year Commemoration. This event will bring together high-level experts to discuss how to make international remittance flows as affordable and inclusive as possible, including by leveraging mobile money and online transfer mechanisms.
While the global average cost for sending remittances was 8.6 per cent at the end of 2013, it was as high as 12.6 per cent in places such as sub-Saharan Africa.
Reducing the costs of remittances could enhance financial inclusion in developing countries. This is especially relevant in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.
The wide use of mobile phone use in low-income countries has opened new possibilities to transfer money cheaply and make low-value payments, including for people without bank accounts.
The meeting will make a current assessment and discuss how the situation could evolve, as well as what actions are needed by different stakeholders to get there.