As LIRNEasia plans its research program for 2008-09, the issue of money transfers through mobiles (first raised in the academic literature, to the best of my knowledge, by Professor Jens Arnbak in his contribution to a book that I co-edited in 2002) is rising in importance in the news as well as in our own thinking.
_ India is the world leader in remittances, taking in $23.7 billion in 2005 and an estimated $26.9 billion last year, the World Bank says. Western Union, traditionally one of the most frequently tapped money transfer companies, says its share of Indian transactions has grown at least 90 percent over each of the past six quarters.
_ Immigrants from Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, will send more than $1.3 billion back to their homeland this year. That’s 13 percent of Albania’s GDP and enough to finance half the trade deficit.
“Without the money we get from our son, who lives and works in Austria, my family and I would simply starve to death,” said Jovana Acimovic, a housewife struggling to make ends meet in Belgrade, Serbia.
In impoverished Tajikistan, the National Bank says migrant laborers sent home $1.1 billion last year – more than the country’s GDP. Filipinos working overseas sent home a record $13.6 billion in 2005. So much cash is flowing that mobile phone operators make it possible to transfer money over a cell phone.
Powered by ScribeFire.