For immigrant workers in New York, wiring money home to family can be a very costly transaction. Unable to open bank accounts, money-transfer agencies such as Western Union, MoneyGram and Vigo (and their subsidiary agents) are the only options for immigrants to wire money (costing anywhere from $3.00-$25 per transaction for an immigrant sending up to $300 per month home to their native land).
According to Bloomberg Businessweek‘s article A Startup That Aims to Be the Kayak for Money Wiring, a young Brooklyn-based startup might be the answer that chips away at this multi-billion-dollar problem for immigrants. Few of us (unless you wire money internationally on a regular basis) know just how inconvenient, expensive and inconsistent money-wiring transactions are for immigrants. Businessweek summarizes =the problem:
The exchange rates can change multiple times a day. The fees vary widely and are often steep. And the sheer variety of companies and options can be tough to wade through.
Remás (“send more back”) and its founder (Brooklyn housing developer Brendan McBride) wants to help empower immigrants to send money at more affordable rates and with more options. Remás shows customers exactly how much money (after all transaction fees) their family will receive.
Launched as a non-profit, Remás is beta-testing with 25 immigrants in Sunset Park. On their website, Remás clearly outlines their goals and how they plan to achieve them:
By improving everyone’s access to information about financial options, we create a ripple effect: immigrants, their families, and communities here and abroad are all better off.
Remás works to ensure sending money home:
- happens at a fair price
- is a transparent process
- is an entry point for participating in the mainstream financial system
Through our pilot program launching in 2012, immigrants will:
- pay lower money transfer fees, save money, and achieve greater financial stability
- connect to banks and credit unions in the US
- have access to expanded financial options, leading to more opportunities to thrive as new Americans
- John Rogers Is Buying Western Union Shares as People Still Do Old-Fashioned Things Like Wire Money (forbes.com)
- Dissecting The Sources Of Western Union’s Moat (seekingalpha.com)
- MoneyGram and PayPal Agreement Brings Together Online and Physical Worlds (fool.com)
- Workers in U.S. wire billions of dollars to Latin American countries (naplesnews.com)