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1 Send Money Africa sendmoneyafrica.worldbank.org The World Bank I ll January 2013 SMA is funded by AIR Project This report 1 identifies and analyzes trends in the cost of sending money to Africa. The Send Money Africa (SMA) remittance prices database provides data on the cost of sending remittances from selected countries worldwide to a number of countries in Sub-Saharan and North Africa, as well as within the African continent. SMA is funded by the African Institute for Remittances (AIR) Project. The purpose of the AIR Project is for the World Bank and selected development partners (European Commission, African Development Bank, International Organization for Migration) to collaborate in facilitating the African Union Commission, and its member states in establishing the African Institute for Remittances. The Project is funded by a grant from the European Commission to the World Bank, which is responsible for the overall implementation. Key findings The average total cost of sending money to Africa in Q was percent; 2 the second highest since the SMA database was launched in Q The cost of sending money to Africa in Q was nearly three percentage points more expensive than the global average cost for the same period, which measured at 8.96 percent, according to Remittance Prices Worldwide (see The 10 most expensive corridors were all intra-africa; with the top five all originating in South Africa. The most expensive sending markets of those surveyed are Tanzania, South Africa, and Ghana. The cheapest sending markets are those in the Gulf UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia, and Spain. The most expensive countries to send money to are those receiving mainly from other African countries namely Malawi, Botswana, and Mozambique. The cheapest market to send money to is Egypt surveyed only in the Gulf countries in the sample. Egypt is followed by Liberia and Somalia. Commercial banks continue to be the most expensive RSP type. Bank account services are the most expensive method of transfer remittances. 1 This report was prepared by the Financial Infrastructure and Remittances Service Line of the World Bank. 2 The average total cost refers to the cost of sending USD200, unless otherwise specified; non-transparent RSPs (i.e. RSPs that do not disclose the exchange rate applied to the transaction) are excluded from calculations since, in these cases, the total cost of the transaction is not known.

2 Sample Send Money Africa allows the users to compare the costs applied by several providers to send money from 16 major sending countries across Europe, the Middle East, North America, and within Africa itself, to 28 African receiving countries, for a total of 54 "country corridors". The number of services covered by SMA has steadily increased over the life of the database. At inception in Q3 2011, there were 474 different services included in the sample. One and a half years later, in Q4 2012, the sample consisted of 660 different services. The breakdown of the Q sample according to the type of remittance service provider (RSP) is displayed in Graph 1. Money transfer operators (MTOs), which comprise 61 percent of the total sample, are the majority of the service providers in the sample. Banks also constitute a large proportion of the sample at 32 percent. Post Offices and MTO/Post Offices (Post Offices offering a specific MTO service) are also active, although they only account for 5 percent of the sample. Graph 1 Transparency Transparency of prices and service features allows consumers to make informed choices between different services and helps to foster a competitive and safe market for remittances. RSPs should therefore be encouraged to provide such information in easily accessible and understandable forms. Such information should include the total price (i.e. fees at both ends, foreign exchange rate offered, and taxes, and other costs to the user), the factors that influence the price (e.g. how the recipient is paid, or ability of the sender to provide complete information such as an account number and bank identifier) the time it will take for the funds to reach the receiver, and the specific locations of the RSP access points in both sending and receiving countries. Some providers fail to provide information on one or more of these items. In particular, quite often providers do not disclose the exchange rate applied to the transaction and, as such, do not disclose their full costs. These providers are deemed non-transparent. Although they are surveyed and included in the database online, including non-transparent operators in the sample when calculating the average would bias the results, as for these RSPs the real total cost is not 2

3 known. For this reason, non-transparent providers have been removed from the calculated values. Graph 2 In Q4 2012, a total of 660 different remittance services into or within Africa were surveyed. Of these, 77 services (11.66 percent) were deemed non-transparent. As a group, banks are nontransparent significantly more often than the other types of providers. Even though they represent only a third of the total sample, they account for 82 percent of non-transparent services. The majority of non-transparent banks are in European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, where they were consistently unable to provide the mystery shopper with an exchange rate for the currency of the African destination country. Since the inception of the survey in July 2011, very few non-transparent banks have become transparent. Average Total Cost The average total cost of sending money to Africa in Q was percent; the second highest recorded level since the launch of the SMA database in Q Graph 3 3

4 With the exception of Q1 2012, the total average cost of sending USD200 to Africa has increased every quarter in which data was collected, and has risen by almost 1 percentage point from an average cost of percent in Q The cost of sending USD500 shows a slightly more erratic pattern; however, this figure has also increased overall from 7.10 percent in Q to 7.31 in Q According to Remittance Prices Worldwide data released in September 2012, the global average total cost of sending USD200 worldwide was 8.96 percent. With an average total cost of percent, sending USD200 to (or within) Africa is 2.93 percentage points higher than the global average. Sending money to Africa is over 5 percentage points more expensive than sending the same amount to South Asia, which costs 6.54 percent, the lowest in the world. Graph 4 shows the average cost as a percentage of the amount sent (USD200 or USD500) by sending country. These findings consistently reveal a significant economy of scale in sending a larger amount of funds as a number of RSPs offer a flat fee for both amounts (this is especially the case with a number of the banks in the sample) and a significant number offer a better value fee for the higher amount sent than the lower one. Graph 4 Graph 5 4

5 Graph 5 shows the spread in the cost of sending USD200 and USD500 to Africa. The spread across corridors in the cost of sending USD200 in Q is significantly wider than for sending USD500. For sending USD200, the spread ranges from just under 4 percent to 25 percent of the send amount, whereas, for sending USD500, it ranges from 2 percent to 16 percent. This finding is due to the fact that there is a wider spread between MTOs and banks for lower amounts; this spread is reduced for higher amounts, as many banks offer a flat fee, which is considerably lower in percentage terms when applied to the USD500 amount, while the margin for MTOs to reduce their fee in percentage terms is not as wide. Average total cost of sending money to Africa varies by sending markets The cost of sending money to Africa varies considerably among sending markets. Graph 6 As graph 6 indicates, the most expensive sending markets in the sample are African countries specifically South Africa, Tanzania, and Ghana, which measure 20.7 percent, 19.7 percent, and 19.0 percent, respectively, where there tend to be a limited number of service options and where, as a consequence, a number of relatively expensive bank account services are surveyed. The two cheapest sending markets in the survey are the Gulf countries of UAE and Saudi Arabia which, in Q4 2012, measured at 3.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. Whilst the costs in these markets can vary from month to month, their competitiveness in comparison to other sending markets in the sample reflects the fact that the Gulf region is amongst the cheapest for remittances globally thanks to the high level of competition achieved in these markets. With an average total cost of 5.9 percent, Spain is the third least expensive market to send money from. 3 Germany has consistently been recorded as the most expensive of the European markets and, with an average total cost of 14.3 percent, was recorded as such in the Q sample. As can be seen in graph 5, the costs in other European markets in the sample such as Belgium, Italy, Spain, and the UK are significantly lower. In these markets there is often a healthier level of 3 The average cost in Senegal was recorded at 5.4 percent. However, this country has been omitted from the analysis due to the fact that a few banks present in the market that did not share any information on the pricing of their services with the mystery shopper. As a result, the very low average cost is unlikely reflective of the actual status of the market. 5

6 competition in African corridors, with a greater number of options creating downward pressure on the total costs. Six G8 sending countries are covered in the SMA database: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, UK, and USA. In Q4 2012, the average cost of sending money from these countries was 9.9 percent. Germany is the most expensive of the G8 countries and USA is the least expensive, with average costs of 14.3 percent y and 7.4 percent, respectively. Country Corridors Graph 7 reveals the 10 most expensive corridors in Q As previous analysis in this report has indicated, it is not unexpected that all of the top 10 are intra-african corridors; primarily originating in South Africa (an expensive, bank-dominated market) and Tanzania. Corridors originating in South Africa are the most expensive, taking up the top five places in the rankings. Graph 7 Graph 8 shows the 10 cheapest corridors in the sample. Consistent with previous iterations of the survey, the cheapest corridors are those in the Gulf measured at around 3.5 percent. It is interesting to note that three corridors originating in the USA appear in the list of the ten cheapest corridors USA to Ethiopia and USA to Liberia were just under 6 percent, and USA to Nigeria measured at just over 6 percent. These findings indicate that the USA is a relatively competitive sending market for African countries and that, whilst there is not a great deal of choice compared to, for instance, the many service options in its Latin American markets, the costs are relatively low. It was also observed that in Q4 2012, one leading RSP reduced its costs in the African corridors surveyed, which has reduced the average costs. 6

7 Graph 8 Cost of sending money to Africa by RSP type Graph 9 As illustrated in graph 9, with an average total cost of 19.8 percent, commercial banks continue to be the most expensive RSP type in Q The very high cost for banks is due to the fact that they rarely offer dedicated services to remittance senders. As a result, often the only services included in the sample are expensive wire transfer services, designed for transferring amounts that are higher than the typical remittance. In particular, only a few banks in the entire African continent offer a competitive money transfer service targeting remittance senders who need to send small amounts from one African country to another. Products offered by Post Offices cost, on average 6.0 percent of the amount sent, and are the least expensive way to send money to Africa. MTOs also offer a competitive price, at 8.5 percent, also thanks to the presence of several specialized providers serving specific countries in the market. 7

8 Cost of sending money to Africa by product type As graph 10 illustrates, bank account products are the most expensive method to transfer money to or within Africa, with an average total cost of 15.8 percent, followed by on-line products, which cost an average of 13.4 percent. Cash products remain the most common and competitive sending method, with an average total cost of 8.3 percent. Card products are also quite competitive, with an average cost of 8.7 percent, but are not as widely available as cash based products. A small number of mobile services were recorded but, while competitively priced, they are not a significant player in cross-border transfers to Africa. Graph

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