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Digital Remittance Demystified: Essential Policy Insights for Successful Money Transfers from Canada to the Gambia

29 Aug 2023


Several Gambians move abroad to developed countries to seek better education and employment opportunities. With many other countries having substantial numbers of Gambian diasporas, several expats live in Canada, which has become one of the top destinations for those looking to settle abroad. The rise of digital remittance transfer services has made it easier for Gambian migrants to send money to Gambia from Canada to offer financial aid to their families back home. Before the rise of digital remittance transfer services and their large and easy access, people would transfer funds in more complicated methods, which involved several technical complications.
 

Digital remittances made transferring funds convenient and played a significant role in the smooth and successful transfer of funds across borders.

An IOM UN Migration report on the Gambia said that about 118,000 Gambian migrants live in foreign countries for jobs and earn a living there. Their financial contribution is equivalent to about 20% of the country’s total GDP.

A World Bank report said that the quantum of inward remittances to the Gambia in 2022 was slightly over $600 million.
 

If seen in the context of the size of the Gambian diaspora, this seems to be a big amount. But if you compare this amount with the quantum of remittances other countries in the region receive, you will realise that this could be a cause for concern for the Gambian government. The government needs to take steps to increase the flow of inward remittances and boost the country’s economy, as remittances serve middle-income countries as a financial lifeline.
 

The advent of digital remittances has made it extremely easy to send funds across borders, which is a great help for Gambian migrants. These migrants leave their families and loved ones and travel abroad to earn a living and support their families financially through a money transfer from Canada to Gambia
 

It is, therefore, essential to look at what a money transfer was like in the past and what it is like now to have a better understanding of and fully appreciate digital remittance transfer services.
 

What Were Online Money Transfers Like in the Past?

Remember that you can categorise online money transfer services into the following two broad categories.

  • Money transfers through banks
  • Money transfers through online money transfer companies, also known as digital remittance services

In the past, and for a large segment of global expatriates even today, banks were the only source people could use to manage money and transfer funds.

Banks commanded huge respect and catered to the general financial needs of the people.
 

It was only pretty late in the 20th century that banks started offering money transfer services across borders.

People used banks for their cross-border online money transfers but could not fully understand the challenges of this particular service until the advent of digital remittance services.
 

Learn about the different ways in which you can transfer funds to Gambia through banks from overseas.
 

The advent of digital remittance service and their spread towards the end of the 20th century and at the turn of the century highlighted the challenges banks faced in offering online money transfer services.

Do you know what these challenges are?
 

Take a look at some of the challenges the banks face while transferring funds from one place to another.
 

Challenges Banks Face in Online Money Transfers

The following challenges are still a big hurdle in the remittance operations of the banks. Take a look below.
 

Long Transfer Time

In the beginning, banks would take several days to deliver funds from one place to another. This has not changed much. Banks still take between 3 to 5 days to deliver funds, and this time can extend further depending on the amount, destination country, time of transfer, and security issues.
 

High Service Charges

Fees and service charges of the banks are high. Whether you want to send a small amount of money in your online money transfer from Canada to Gambia or big, the banks will charge you the same fees, which is way too high.
 

Uncompetitive Currency Exchange Rates

Currency exchange rates are of two major types. One type is the flexible exchange rate, and the other type is the fixed exchange rate. Banks offer you fixed rates, which are uncompetitive because you will get the rate that the bank offers you regardless of the higher rates in the international market that may be prevalent at the time of initiating a transfer through banks.
 

Commuting Hazards and Paperwork

You will have to travel to the bank to initiate a transaction and undergo loads of paperwork. This is why it was stated at the start that banks are fairly technical when it comes to transferring funds. Commuting incurs expenses, on the other hand.
 

Do not be surprised after knowing these challenges. These are not a thing of the past for the banks. All of these challenges pretty much exist even nowadays in the operations of the banks.
 

Do you wonder about the alternative? Take a look below.
 

The Alternative to Banks

Well, the simple alternative to the banks is pretty much well within your reach and access. These are online money transfer companies.

But carefully choose a service provider from the long range of available options. These service providers will offer you speedy transfers with safety, convenience, and wider access for a low fee and with live and market-competitive currency exchange rates.
 

Let’s see what steps can be taken to increase the flow of remittances to the Gambia.
 

Steps to Increase the Flow of Inward Remittances to Gambia

The Gambian government can take the following steps to increase the flow of remittances to the country.
 

  • The government should offer tax relaxation to digital remittance service provider companies, including the banks
  • The government should use both mainstream media and social media to spread awareness about the advantages of using digital remittance services
  • Market competition within the country should be increased, and that is possible only if the government facilitates the service providers
  • Encourage the use of the latest digital technologies
  • The remittances industry within the country must be regulated and brought to par with the international remittance market
  • The government must ensure that the service providers comply with the fiscal regulations overseeing inward remittances
     

Wrapping Up the Discussion

As stated earlier, the best alternative you have to banks is the remittance companies. Many of these companies offer you the best services. For example, if you send money online to Gambia from Canada or other countries with ACE Money Transfer, you will get speed, safety, and much more with live and market-competitive exchange rates in exchange for a fraction of the amount as fees.
 

FAQs

What are digital remittance services?

Digital remittance services are the remittances service in which you send money back home from abroad electronically. These services are offered by many financial institutions, but online money transfer companies specialise in digital remittance services.
 

Why are banks not suitable for my online money transfers?

Banks are unfit for your online money transfers because they take several days to deliver funds, involve a lot of paperwork and commuting hazards and expenses, and banks charge a high fee for their services in addition to offering static and uncompetitive currency exchange rates.
 

What benefits do I get from sending money to the Gambia through digital companies?

You will get speedy transfers, the freedom to initiate a transfer from the middle of your comfort zone or on the go, the safety of your funds, and live and market-competitive exchange rates for a low fee.
 

Why do Gambians seek jobs abroad?

Gambians suffer from unemployment, which leads to acuter poverty. This makes putting food on the table a grave challenge. So, they travel abroad to find jobs to earn a reasonable earning to support their families financially.
 

What steps can be taken to increase the flow of inward remittances?

Remittance service providers can be given tax relaxations, media can be used to spread awareness, use of the latest digital technologies can be encouraged, compliance with government regulations must be ensured, and the remittance industry’s infrastructure must be brought on par with international standards.


Resources


 

  • Gambian diaspora

(Overview | IOM The Gambia)

  • Inward remittances

(Personal remittances, received (current US$) - Gambia, The | Data (worldbank.org)


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