Remittances are money sent by migrant workers back to their home countries. As a matter of fact, international remittances are the largest source of external financial inflows in several developing countries.
These remittances often surpass foreign direct investments, portfolio investment, and official development assistance, especially in low and middle-income countries.
Out of the total international transactions, remittance payments account for less than 10% but they are imperative to millions of households around the globe who depend on remittances for sustenance, family maintenance, education, health, etc.
Despite the previously projected decline, the global remittance flows proved more resilient than expected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest World Bank data, global remittances are expected to total $702 billion in 2020, only 2.4% down from $719 billion in 2019. $540 billion of the total have expected to have gone into low and middle-income countries, 1.6% down from $548 billion in 2019.
The Indian diaspora is one of the largest overseas communities in the world comprising skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled Indian migrants. India has been the world's highest recipient of remittances over the last decade, with the U.S. being the largest sender.
India received $69 billion in remittances in 2017, $79 billion in 2018, and $83.3 billion in 2019 as per the World Bank.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic devastating the world economy in 2020, India received over $83 billion in remittances in 2020. Only a 0.2% drop from 2019 instead of a 23% decline as previously projected by the World Bank as a consequence of the pandemic-induced global recession.
The flow of inward remittances has positively impacted the Indian economy: from financing trade deficits to alleviating poverty, enhancing saving, investment, and human capital formation.
A remittance corridor is a flow of funds from one country to the other. In the global remittance industry, countries like India, China, Mexico, the Philippines are the top recipients of remittances. Remittance also makes up a huge percentage of the GDP in their respective countries.
On the other hand, countries like the USA, United Arad Emirates, Saudi Arabia, UK, Canada, Germany are the top remittance senders.
The U.S. to India is a popular money transfer corridor. In 2019, a total of $12.7 billion was remitted from the U.S. to India.
The cost of cross-border money transfer matters tremendously in international remittances. It influences the size of remittances.
According to the latest report of the World Bank, the average cost of sending $200 to India in Q3 2019 was 5.38%, the second-lowest among G20 countries. The global average in Q3 2019 was 6.84%.
The cost of remittance varies across corridors based on the exchange rate margins, fixed fees, modes of payments, transfer method, the extent of market competition, destination country, participants involved in the transfer process, and regulations in both the sender and recipient countries, etc.
The global target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) stands at 3%.
Banks are one of the dominant players in this corridor. People are familiar with bank transfers, even when it can be expensive and time-consuming.
Cash transfer, money orders, demand drafts, and bank cheque transfers used to be the conventional way to remit money to India.
However, thanks to the availability of online remittance services offered by major Indian banks, most remitters preferred sending money online from their computer or mobile devices through the internet and mobile banking.
ICICI's Money2India is an online remittance service that allows money transfer from a U.S. bank account to a bank account in over 200 banks in India. They offer competitive exchange rates and affordable transfer fees. The service is accessible through the ICICI's website or the mobile app.
SBI, India's largest bank offers inward remittance to Indian bank accounts through SBI Express Remit, wire transfers (SWIFT), demand drafts, personal cheques, and Western Union transfers.
In current times, mobile applications are fast emerging as the preferred medium of transfer because of convenience and speed.
The integration with India's Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which enables instant money transfer to a bank account will also boost India's remittance payments and delivery time.
Money Transfer Companies
The U.S. to India remittance corridor is a dynamic one with several money transfer companies offering remittance services.
From industry incumbents to new emerging players, there are many options. This makes it easy to compare the top money transfer service providers and choose the best for your requirements.
Western Union is the oldest money transfer provider in the world. You can send money online, use their app or opt for a cash transfer and pay directly from your bank account, debit, or credit card or pay cash at an agent location.
The money can be transferred to nearly 200 banks in India. There are in total 60,000 agent locations in India spanning over 7,000 cities, towns, and villages.
Xoom is a PayPal-owned online remittance service provider. With Xoom, you can send money to 100,211 partner locations in India for cash pickup, or make a bank deposit to banks such as SBI, ICICI, HDFC Bank, PNB, Axis Bank, and many others.
You can also send money to India with UPI through Xoom. This payment method enables you to send money to 66 banks across India in an instant either from your Paypal account or Xoom account.
Wise, a London-based online-only is one of the cheapest options to send money to India. There are no hidden charges and it gives you the mid-market exchange rate.
You can send money to India either from their website or app.
The delivery time may vary based on the payment method you use (bank transfer, credit or debit card, SWIFT transfer)
WorldRemit is another leading digital money transfer provider that lets you send money to all states and Union territories in India from the U.S.
It is one of the fastest and offers different delivery options including bank transfer, cash pickup, airtime top-up.
Send Money to India from the U.S. using Google Pay
Google Pay users in the U.S. can send money to Gpay users in India. Even better is that Western Union and Wise are integrated into Google Pay.
The users can either choose Wise or Western Union when sending the money with the Google Pay app. They will also be informed of the amount of money the recipients will get and the time to receive the money.
In the future, Google will expand cross-border remittances worldwide. India and Singapore have been picked first based on their importance in the remittance world.
It currently allows U.S. users to send money to users in India and Singapore and not the other way around.
This service is only available for person-to-person payments. This means businesses on GPay in the U.S. will not be able to send money to individuals or businesses in India.
Fortunately, there is one service that provides payment solutions to businesses across the world including India. The payment platform is called Fairexpay.com.
Fairexpay is an India-based global aggregator platform for cross-border payments.
The platform hosts several regulated payment providers to facilitate real-time foreign exchange payments for businesses across the world quickly and securely with Fx pricing clarity.
The platform has a dashboard for Management teams and support Vendors, Overseas payroll, and Intercompany payments, with 30+ multi-currency wallets that can also be used for receiving payments from customers.
Fairexpay is partnered with Roxe, a next-generation global payment network. The Roxe network use blockchain technology to provide fast, cost-effective, and highly reliable clearing and cross-border settlement of payments and remittances, saving time and money.
With the partnership, Fairexpay will become a Roxe payment node to provide remittance services to beneficiaries in India.
The expansion of Roxe to India is crucial for the U.S. to India remittance as this paves the way for global payments from a traditional account model to a new blockchain-powered paradigm.
Ultimately, the remittances depend on various factors including the host countries' macroeconomic conditions, fiscal policy, immigration laws, the stock of migrants, currency exchange rates, political relationship between the two countries, etc.