Global perspective Human stories

UN postal agency unveils plan for migrants to send money back home electronically

UN postal agency unveils plan for migrants to send money back home electronically

Migrant workers around the world will soon be able to send money back home by efficient and reliable electronic transfers, eliminating the paper and manual work now involved with traditional postal money orders, under a joint project announced today by the United Nations postal agency.

“There is a strong trend for overseas workers to send part of their earnings home to their families, but the market response to this issue has so far been inadequate,” Universal Postal Union (UPU) Director-General Edouard Dayan told a high-level forum in The Hague, Netherlands, of his agency’s new link with Eurogiro, whose membership girdles the globe.

The two organizations have developed a gateway connecting their networks for the transmission of the Tele Money Order. Selected postal administrations will soon start testing the new service, with a view to a full roll out by the end of May.

The service is open to all but migrants are expected to be the major beneficiaries. According to the World Bank, migrant workers, about 3 per cent of the world population, sent remittances worth $110 billion in 2004, 52 per cent more than in 2001.

Some 30 postal administrations, both in industrialized and developing countries, use UPU’s International Financial System software using electronic data interchange to send money order data, while nearly 50 Posts and banks use Eurogiro for cash and account transfers.

The new Tele Money Order will enable Posts and potentially banks using either system to perform electronic fund transfers with each other, widely extending the reach of this service across the world. This will be particularly valuable for countries with large migrant populations.

“With a well-established worldwide network of more than 660,000 offices, Posts can offer a service that is both accessible and affordable to everyone,” Mr. Dayan said, noting that fund transfers are the second most important financing source for developing countries after direct investment.

When he assumed the UPU leadership in January, the veteran French postal official proclaimed his vision of an efficient, innovative, united and open organization ready to use the tools of the new age. Today he said customers could eventually use the service to receive their pensions electronically once they return to their countries.

“Postal organizations have been exchanging money orders electronically for more than 12 years,” Eurogiro Network A/S Managing Director Henrik Parl said. “However, there has typically been paper and manual work involved. With the new Tele Money Order, the UPU and Eurogiro are taking a giant step towards facilitating fully automated processing of the transactions, with benefits for all parties involved.”