Philippines pioneers international remittance via SMS

Posted on February 17, 2007  /  5 Comments

Reading the reports from Barcelona, one may think that remitting money using the functionalities of the mobile phone is something new. However, it appears that it is a functioning service in the Philippines, the SMS capital of the world.

Smart Corporate – Smart Padala – About Smart Padala

SMART PADALA is the first cash remittance service via text. It is a faster and cheaper way of remitting cash from a sender abroad to the celfone of a beneficiary here in the PhilippinesHow does SMART Padala work?

1. Go to any SMART Padala Remittance Partner. Fill out an information sheet about your beneficiary in the Philippines, especially his SMART Celfone number / SMART Money number.
2. The Remittance Center will transfer your remittance to the SMART Money number of your Beneficiary. (NOTE: if you’re using SMART Padala for the first time, your beneficiary will be assigned a SMART money number to which the remittance will be transferred).
3. After a few seconds/minutes, the Remittance Center will confirm that the transaction has been completed.

1. You will receive a text message indicating your 16-digit SMART Money number. Another text message will be sent to confirm that the money has been received through the SMART money number.
2. To encash, go to any SMART Padala Center.
3. You will be sent a SMART Money card or you have the option to get a SMART Money Card in any SMART Wireless Center. Using the card, you can withdraw cash in any Banco de Oro, Expressnet or Megalink ATM’s nationwide


  1. You will also find that Globe has also been offering a similar service using G-Cash since October 2004. It is now being used across the country by rural banks and is quite easy to use in rural areas even where there is no ATM.

    Check out the video of how the RBAP-MABS program came up with interesting mobile phone applications, including facilitating remittances for those without a mobile phone, in the provinces by watching the video on You Tube at

  2. If the above link does not work, you can also go to

  3. I don’t see how it’s a lot different to Western Union, which at the moment is a very popular and an efficient method of money transferring. May be the fact that this could be deployed in rural areas relatively easily is a slight advantage. But any new method like this more often than not will start in the cities and then gradually move out to rural areas, especially in the developing countries such as ours.

  4. The issue is one of cost and efficiency. Western Union is one of the more expensive ways to send and receive money and that tends to hit the people who can least afford it. The World Bank’s 2003 Global Development Finance Report estimates that “in certain parts of the world the average cost of transferring remittances can amount to about 13%, and often exceeds 20% of the remittance amount. In addition to these high fees, recipients are often faced with further costs on foreign exchange losses or slow check clearance. The report argues that reducing the transaction cost of remittances to less than 10% would imply an annual saving of $3.5 billion to overseas workers. New ATM and satellite technology is radically reducing costs in some markets, and could be extended to new markets. ” The key to remittances via SMS (or any platform actually) is whether it increases industry efficiency and brings the cost down for users. A very interesting initiative by DFID to deal with this issue is the Sendmoney home site, where one can actually compare the cost of sending money: