REMITTANCE PORTAL DEVELOPMENT
Money transfer from the developed world to the developing world can be costly and often a lengthy process due to a lack of transparency in the transfer fee structure and limited, uncompetitive service offerings. Remittances are often the lifeline for families back home, frequently overshadowing direct foreign aid to developing countries, and although often low in comparative value, make up a substantial amount of diasporas’ dispensable income. Given the central role of remittances in those parts of the world, governments and NGOS have made it a policy priority to bring down the costs of such remittances.
By harnessing current technological innovations, money remitters can be educated in real time about the existence of competing services in a given corridor, and their relevant pricing, delivery and other service conditions. This in turn forces money transfer organizations to become more competitive as well as to embrace technological innovation, thereby lowering prices, increasing timeliness of delivery and overall increasing the service offerings open to a particular money remitter.
We conceptualized an on-line remittance services comparison portal. A market study was developed in order to evaluate which corridors should be included in each phase of the project. The team collected the data in Phase I and then managed data collectors for the next phases. The data was manually updated at first, becoming more automated in Phase II. A flexible and technologically advanced database was developed from scratch, and is continuously improved, including additional back office features such as reports on pricing, visitor analytics, and problem detection.
We developed a remittance comparison portal containing money transfer pricing information on over 200 corridors covering nearly 600 corridorums (combinations of a corridor with an RSP/MTO). Most of these corridorums can be updated daily and in real time. This portal is built with the most advanced and agile technology such as Ruby on Rails, and is available in three languages (English, French, Spanish). It is easily modifiable to include new features such as other types of value transfer (such as airtime top-up) or social networking features.
The portal passes all the World Bank minimum requirements for certification according to the World Bank Standards for Remittance Portals. The portal has a significant impact on guiding remitters in their money transfer activities, as it is the only such remittance comparison portal updated in real time.