Remittances: Key to the Fight Against Global Poverty

At UniTeller, we’re proud to facilitate remittance payments for families around the world. 

As we expand our international reach, nothing brings us greater joy than hearing from users as they celebrate sending and receiving remittances. 

And while economic uncertainties remain in our post-pandemic world, statistics show that remittances have remained strong through the most difficult period in recent memory. 

As a company, we truly believe that every remittance payment has tremendous power — for individuals, families, communities, countries, and regions at large. Every time our clients send money overseas, they help change the world. While that may sound hyperbolic, we believe the facts support the sentiment. 

While it can be challenging to articulate the hope that remittances provide, new studies and research have helped uncover a number of essential truths. By investigating the available data surrounding global remittances, we can better appreciate their true value. 

Here’s a brief overview of some remittance statistics that show how this ubiquitous form of transferring money helps fight poverty and promote economic prosperity.

Remittances Eclipse Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Over the last decade, remittances steadily gained prominence throughout the world economy. Before long, they became the number one source of aid to foreign nations. 

In 2018, remittances officially surpassed foreign direct investment (FDI) (i.e., the financial backing of major firms from one country to another).

With the exception of China, remittances to low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) reached $462 billion in 2018. That was more than $118 billion than FDI flows during the same period of time. 

In other words, remittances became the largest and most important source of foreign aid in the global economy — especially for low and middle-income countries. 

This watershed moment astonished forecasters and set the tone for the coming decade. 

According to Dilip Ratha, lead economist and head of KNOMAD, the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development,

“Remittances are on track to become the most important game in town when it comes to financing development. In five years, remittances will likely become larger than [overseas] development assistance (ODA) and FDI combined…We could see remittances reach a trillion dollars in the foreseeable future.”

Ratha’s expectation for a trillion-dollar remittance market is supported by the United Nations, which expects remittances to exceed $8.5 trillion by 2030

To be sure, half of Ratha’s prediction has already been validated, as remittance flows to foreign nations (excluding China) have easily surpassed FDI and ODA for the second consecutive year

While these findings are undoubtedly exciting, the question remains: what do these trends actually look like in practice?

Growing Remittances, Growing GDPs

For many nations, remittances are more than a helpful financial gift. 

Instead, they are like oil to a country’s economic engine, endlessly inspiring new growth and potential in their gross domestic product (GDP).

According to The Economist, remittances account for over 5 percent of the GDP in 54 global countries. 

In nations like Tonga, Somalia, and Lebanon, remittances account for over 32% of GDP

And as remittances increase, global poverty sharply declines. 

In fact, the Asian Bank Development Institute found that a “1 percent increase in international remittances as a percentage of gross domestic product can lead to a 22.6 percent decline in poverty gap ratio.”

These astounding findings are derived from a 35-year study of ten Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Nepal, China, and the Philippines.

The Fruit of Remittances: Fighting Global Poverty, Promoting Prosperity 

The ripple effects of remittances are widespread. Indeed, over one billion people are involved with remittances on some level, whether on the sending or receiving end of the transaction.


Remittances help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a number of ways, including:

  • Providing Meals: As for their most basic virtue, remittances help provide shelter and put food on the table for families around the world.

    In fact, roughly 75 percent of all remittances are used primarily to pay for meals and cover housing costs.
  • Boosting Savings: While remittances attend to essential daily needs, they can also promote long-term financial savings.

    In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, a 10 percent increase in remittances saw direct increases in savings by 7 percent.
  • Enhancing Healthcare: Remittances help families increase their healthcare budgets, which are often entirely neglected in low-and-middle-income countries.

    In Mexico, for example, households that receive remittances show a 44% increase in spending on medical care.

    As one journalist aptly asked in the International Migration Review, “Is an ounce of remittance worth a pound of health?” That certainly seems to be the case.
  • Affirming Education: Remittances also play a major role in keeping children enrolled in school. In fact, new research shows that money sent by loved ones overseas keeps 3.5 million children in school worldwide.

    More specifically, countries like El Salvador, Sri Lanka, and Nepal have reported that remittances significantly lower school dropout rates

It’s no wonder that the United Nations declared remittances as “the most important source of external finance for least developed countries, and in some cases, a key driver of economic growth.”

Partnering With UniTeller

When it comes to transferring money and paying international bills, UniTeller maintains the highest standard of excellence. As a fully-licensed money transmitter in the United States and soon to be in Canada, UniTeller remains intensely committed to providing payment services with a transparent and flexible business model. To that end, businesses have minimal to no upfront investment to get started with UniTeller.

In fact, our professional team will provide in-depth training for you and your team, so you can see how the process works and begin completing money transfers right away. By partnering with UniTeller, you’ll also gain access to our multilingual Customer Service department, available seven days a week.

As a UniTeller Selling Agent, you will have total confidence in the speed and safety of the money transfer and international bill payments services you provide. Also, you’ll have access to our extensive network of over 200,000 paying locations and billers in over 80 countries worldwide.

It’s fast.

It’s reliable.

And it’s trusted by countless customers and business owners across the United States.

Want to learn more about becoming a UniTeller Selling Agent? Click here to get started.

The Surprisingly Important Role Global Remittances Play in Climate Change Adaptation

The economic power of remittances is widely known. 

Every time payments are sent abroad, families are protected and communities are strengthened. 

The global community witnessed this throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, where remittances stayed strong — despite pessimistic projections — and remained a lifeline for families, friends, and loved ones around the world. 

And yet, that’s only part of a truly triumphant story. Beyond their widely-heralded economic virtues, remittances are also playing an increasingly large role in climate change adaptation. 

Though it is likely a new term for most people, “climate change adaptation” is an increasingly relevant expression that encompasses the global efforts to combat extreme weather, both actual and anticipated. 

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adaptation is a comprehensive reference to “adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to climate change.” 

As such, it features the development of new processes and practices designed to protect communities around the world. 

Such strategies are unique to specific regions. 

For example, farming communities with heavy agricultural production are increasingly threatened by unpredictable rainfall patterns and record periods of drought. To combat these damaging periods (and the economic effects of reduced crop yields), such communities are dependent on adaptation strategies. 

In other words, they’re reliant on remittances.

Access to Essential Technology

For farming communities, enhanced irrigation technologies and safer housing have become essential, life-saving tools. But if they’re unable to receive financial support — whether due to extreme weather or simply due to neglect — such communities cannot adapt as needed. 

Remittances are crucial to not only supporting the economic progress of these regions but to protecting their health and wellbeing year-round. 

Though these discoveries are now gaining widespread recognition, they’ve been well documented for many years. 

In 2017, researchers from KNOMAD studied the positive effects of remittances in Upper Assam, India — the northeastern region that often deals with significant flooding. 

(Note: KNOMAD stands for the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development, and their findings have long been instrumental in the advancement of climate change adaptation.)


In their 2017 research, the KNOMAD team compared households in Upper Assam that received remittances against those that did not. 

Their findings were both revealing and alarming. 

Across the board, families that received remittances were far more likely to have insurance, to have communication devices (i.e. phones, cable, and internet), and to have essential tools like boats, rafts, and raised plinths for their houses — all essential for their safety and prosperity. 

The KNOMAD research also found that remittance-recipient households in Upper Assam were a driving force for community activity, “a proxy for social cohesion and access of a household to village institutions. Over time, the participation of remittances-recipient households in collective action on flood relief, recovery, and preparedness increases.”

In other words, remittances are a driving force in climate change adaptation on an intimate and local level.

Remittances Are Stronger Than Foreign Direct Aid

Climate change has been at the heart of the global conversation for many years. 

Governments have signed accords, emissions goals have been established, and countless initiatives have been launched across both the public and private sectors. 

While “climate finance” remains an ongoing international mission, individual remittances are proving to be even more influential than most government-led initiatives. 

In fact, in 2021 alone, remittance flows to low and middle-income countries reached nearly $590 billion — a 7.3% increase over 2020. 

While an impressive number to be sure, its implications are more astounding. 

According to the World Bank, “Remittances now stand more than threefold above official development assistance and, excluding China, more than 50% higher than foreign direct investment (FDI).”

In other words, loved ones have often been more generous with their support than the combined charity of many global governments. After all, remittance flows account for nearly 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for low-income countries. 

And in countries like Honduras and El Salvador, remittances account for over 20% of their GDP

It’s no wonder, then, that migration is heralded as a leading method to fight climate change.

According to the International Organization for Migration, a subsidiary agency within the United Nations, 

“A common adaptation strategy in response to these environmental stressors has been for households to send some members a way to find alternative livelihoods and income…[remittances] strengthen their long-term adaptive capacity if they are invested in health services or education, or in increasing agricultural production.” 

Ultimately, remittances provide communities with the financial freedom to build better, safer, and more profitable lives. 

And while providing short-term benefits, remittances ultimately create a bulwark against the rising tide of climate change. In doing so, they provide a measure of hope for the global community at large. 

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At UniTeller, we’re honored to serve on the frontlines of international remittance flows, and we are thrilled to continue advancing our role in developing a better and more sustainable future.  
Click here to learn more about P2P remittance brand, uLink.

Key Challenges Facing Cross-Border Payments

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vitality of global remittances.

While jobs were jeopardized and families were separated, cross-border payments helped sustain local communities around the world. Despite projections that anticipated a sharp decline in remittance flows, international payments to low and middle-income countries reached $549 billion in 2020.

Last year, remittances spiked an additional 7.3%, climbing to a staggering $589 billion in international support.

And yet, while remittances show no sign of stopping, they continue to face several persistent challenges in the global economy.

Accessibility remains an ongoing issue, particularly in emerging markets without the infrastructure to support digital payments and remittances.

Fortunately, as we’ll discuss below, UniTeller has taken steps to bridge those gaps and provide payment access to as many regions and markets as technology will allow.

1. Prohibitive Costs

Cross-border payments can be punitively expensive. Regulatory costs, foreign exchange fees, and other assessments tax consumers every time they send money abroad. 

For example, the average cost of sending a USD $200 remittance to Sub-Saharan Africa is 8.2%. That’s nearly three times above the United Nation’s 3% target for Sustainable Development Goals

Payment processors simply must do better. In order for global communities to get the economic support they need, transaction fees must come down.

At UniTeller, we do everything to lower costs at every corner so individuals and businesses can routinely maximize their investments.

2. Slow Transaction Speeds

Despite a myriad of technological innovations, many payment providers and banks continue to deliver slow and inefficient transaction times.

Consumers around the world expect and deserve fast payments, and providers must satisfy their demands — especially for people in embattled regions. 

According to Jon Cunliffe, head of the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructure (CPMI),

         “Cross-border payments are necessarily more complex than domestic payments, but we

         need to bring them into line with the standards, efficiency and reliability that users now

         have a right to expect.”

At UniTeller, we strive to provide fast, reliable transactions for individuals and businesses alike.

3. Ongoing Security Threats

Fraud is on the rise, especially in cross-border payments. According to recent studies, over 60% of U.S. and U.K. businesses face cross-border payment fraud.

This is unacceptable for modern businesses. After all, it drains companies of capital, threatens the hard-earned resources of consumers, and endangers those who depend on receiving financial gifts.

While developing strategies to lower costs and increase transaction speeds, UniTeller remains intently focused on increasing the security of cross-border payments. 

We strive to accomplish this through two primary means: by continually enhancing our technology and by strengthening our partnerships, both foreign and domestic. 

After all, business relationships are an essential component to maintain the highest security across the global arena. Thanks to these strategic partnerships, UniTeller has routinely facilitated the growing demand for digital payment capabilities in emerging markets.

Expansion in Asia Pacific 

It’s no secret that Asia holds the largest share of remittance inflows in the world. Within the region, India consistently receives the most remittances each year (having surpassed $87 billion in 2021 alone).

UniTeller has proudly maintained a presence in Asia for over 20 years, with a network covering over 90,000 paying locations in the region.

After observing the growing demand for remittances throughout the pandemic, UniTeller sought to expand its payment services by joining forces with Tranglo, one of the leading cross-border payment service providers in Asia Pacific.

As a direct result of this alliance, UniTeller can now reach 13 Asia Pacific markets, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Nepal — adding over 58,000 cash pick-up points, more than 1,100 account deposit banks, and 9 e-wallet platforms.

According to Alberto Guerra, UniTeller CEO,

         “Collaboration has always been an important part of our strategy. By partnering with

         like-minded cross-border payments companies, we can integrate international paying

         networks and combine our technology strength and local market knowledge to make an

         ever greater impact on the industry than what each of us can achieve individually.”

This collaboration also gives UniTeller access to RippleNet, the global financial network of Ripple.

Expansion in Africa

At UniTeller, we’re driven to serve and sustain emerging markets whenever and wherever possible. Given the growing demand for digital payment capabilities in Africa, it’s more important than ever for industry players to promote market efficiency and expand user access to a broad range of digital financial services. 

To that end, we sought opportunities to expand our presence throughout the continent of Africa. Indeed, Africa has seen a stratospheric increase in remittances over the last twenty years — reaching levels where cross-border payments eclipse the annual value of foreign direct investment (FDI).

By joining forces with Singapore-based payments network, Thunes, UniTeller proudly adds account deposit service with 552 banks and e-wallet service with 28 operators across Africa and Asia Pacific.

According to Tamer El-Emary, COO of Thunes,

         “We are glad to be able to strengthen our partnership with UniTeller, and jointly help to

         enhance global connectivity for millions of people through faster and more convenient

         cross-border payments.”

By uniting the networks of two major payment processors, UniTeller and Thunes are able to deliver state-of-the-art services along with unparalleled security and safety.

At UniTeller, we will continue to combat the many challenges facing the payments industry through collaboration, innovation, and above all, through partnerships.

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To learn more about UniTeller, click here.

Add Revenue to Your Small Business by Offering Money Transfer Services

In a matter of months, the pandemic changed the world’s functions. Remote work immediately became a fixture of modern life, travel grew increasingly rare, and the ability to visit friends and family was also greatly impacted. And yet, while economic growth slowed down, one area of commerce remained remarkably resilient: money transfers. This proved true both for individuals sending remittances and for businesses completing cross-border transfers.

While financial forecasters predicted a 20 percent drop in remittances during the first wave of the pandemic, the international flow of money fell little more than 1 percent from 2019. These statistics shocked the world.

According to Dilip Ratha, Head of KNOMAD,

         The resilience of remittance flows is remarkable.

         Remittances are helping to meet families’ increased need for livelihood support.”

Then, in 2021, personal money transfers accelerated to reach an all-time high. According to the World Bank, remittances grew 7.3 percent to hit nearly $590 billion. In the corporate sector, money transfers followed the same stratospheric trends. In fact, nearly 40 percent of small businesses sent and received more cross-border payments in 2021 than in 2020.

What precipitated this surge in money transfers? Simply put, the pandemic turned money transfers from an accessible feature into an essential one.

The total transaction value of money transfers remains on the rise. In fact, studies show they could reach $40 trillion by 2026. A staggering one billion people, or one in seven in the world, are involved with remittances, either by sending money transfers abroad or receiving them. One in seven people in the world benefits from these flows, which amounts to nearly 800 million people.

While money transfer services have long been popular, the pandemic only accelerated their appeal. Four years of growth has been compressed into two months in the money transfer space. Those two months in March and April 2020 have set the stage for the next decade.

As reliance on money transfers increases, modern consumers will only continue to seek out businesses that provide the services they need to support their loved ones.

Essential Reasons for Offering Money Transfer Services

Convenience is king, especially in 2022. After all, the age of digitization has dramatically increased the average consumer’s expectations. When it comes to payments and money transfers, people aim to do what they want, where they want, and how they want.

While they may have different end goals, the individual consumer and the business owner share one overarching value: they want maximum autonomy in everything they do. In fact, recent studies show that people value payment option convenience above almost every other factor (including sales/discounts and proximity to home).

In other words, if you’re offering money transfer services at your business, more customers will come calling. On the one hand, you’ll distinguish your business from the competition by giving your customers financial access to the world at large. Plus, beyond the obvious fiscal benefits — and the ability to earn additional income with every single transfer completed through your business — you’ll also establish a powerful rapport with your current customer base.

Over time, your clients will begin to associate your business with a place that enables them to support the things in life they cherish the most — whether it’s their family, their friends, or a business venture overseas.

Partnering With UniTeller

When it comes to transferring money and international bill payments, UniTeller maintains the highest standard of excellence. As a fully-licensed money transmitter in the United States and soon to be in Canada, UniTeller remains intensely committed to providing payment services with a transparent and flexible business model. To that end, businesses have minimal to no upfront investment to get started with UniTeller.

In fact, our professional team will provide in-depth training for you and your team, so you can see how the process works and begin completing money transfers right away. By partnering with UniTeller, you’ll also gain access to our multilingual Customer Service department, available seven days a week.

As a UniTeller Selling Agent, you will have total confidence in the speed and safety of the money transfer and international bill payments services you provide. Also, you’ll have access to our extensive network of over 200,000 paying locations and billers in over 70 countries worldwide.

It’s fast.

It’s reliable.

And it’s trusted by countless customers and business owners across the United States.

Want to learn more about becoming a UniTeller Selling Agent?

Click here to get started.