Immigrants’ Remittances: a web site for choosing the cheapest channel

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, during the Conference


Transparency is the prerequisite for cutting migrant remittance costs, and this is what the site sets out to provide. The site was presented at the International Conference on Remittances, which was held in Rome on 9 November and organised at the Farnesina by the Foreign Ministry in conjunction with the World Bank as an Italian G8 Presidency event.

The website, which has been developed by the CeSPI (International Policy Studies Centre) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with Foreign Ministry funding, is a new landmark for migrants wanting to send money home by the cheapest, safest method. The customer keys in the country of destination for the money – and the sum to be paid – and is shown a table stating the various banks that provide the service, with information on cost, transaction time and the net sum that will actually be received. The site thus makes it possible to compare costs and to opt for the cheapest service.

In addition to presenting the new website, the conference drew up a “road map” for cutting emigrant remittance costs to the minimum.
International remittances totalled $444 billion overall in 2008. According to World Bank estimates, the overall figure will fall to 420 billion in 2009 on account of the economic crisis. Of these international remittances, 317 billion in particular will go to the developing countries, money that over 190 million immigrant workers send to over 700 million families, with major spin-offs for their home countries’ growth.

Migrants’ remittances cost too much: on average 9.7% of the sum being sent. “A halving of the costs will make for an extra $15-20 billion a year,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini pointed out, going on to explain that “a more productive use of resources to enhance growth in migrants’ home countries” was currently needed. This would bring in about $20 billion more to the migrants’ home countries every year, a major sum that would add to the already large amount of money remitted by migrants worldwide. Last year, €6.4 billion were sent from Italy, and immigrants to Italy remitted €3.2 billion in the first six months of this year.