Today, Kay Bisnath, President of ACORN International, released Past Time for Remittance Justice, a report on the scandalous and predatory costs being forced on immigrant families sending remittances to relatives in their home countries. The report included a survey of charges attached to remittances by Canadian and American global banking institutions, including Scotiabank, RBC, BMO, and Toronto Dominion among others, as well as the global financial transfer organizations, Western Union and MoneyGram.
ACORN Canada with ACORN International called for transparency on costs, greater regulation by Canadian and other governmental banking authorizes, and a hard commitment to the World Bank goal of no more than 5% costs for remittance transfers. Among the bombshells released in the report, the Toronto based research team largely from George Brown College coupled with ACORN International leaders and organizers from other countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, found that the average costs for Canadian and other North American institutions were more than twice the global average of 10% costs which is the current working estimate of the World Bank.
The North American survey of “sending” institutions found the lowest costs were the transfer organizations, MoneyGram and Western Union with charges running between 17% and 21% in Canadian dollars to transfer $100 CN up to a high of between 40 and 50% charges on $100 CN from HSBC, 32 to almost 36% per $100 CN from Toronto Dominion, more than 25% from the Bank of Montreal and others. Bank of America headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States was the worst of all surveyed.
ACORN International has issued sent a letter to all of the financial institutions surveyed to ask for a meeting to discuss making immediate and significant changes to enable immigrants to win just and fair remittance charges. ACORN Canada representatives indicated that they would be asking for meetings with regulators in Ottawa and at the provincial levels where appropriate in order to make sure there were real teeth in the regulations and mandatory cost reductions and access improvements.
The World Bank estimates that more than $400 Billion (USD) is remitted with 75% of this amount going from developed to developing countries. This amount far surpasses the cumulative totals in foreign aid and other developmental assistance from developed countries to developing lands. Not only, as ACORN International’s report says, is this a “lifeline” for families, but it is the most significant source for economic development on a global level, but as the report indicates huge amounts are being lost in arbitrarily inflated and predatory pricing by huge global financial institutions.
ACORN International in coming weeks is releasing the report in the other countries where there are federated organizations (Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Kenya, and India, as well as the United States, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, and other global financial centers). The Canadian release in conjunction with ACORN Canada, the largest affiliate and partner of ACORN International, signals a new and more aggressive stage of the long term Remittance Justice Campaign.
Wade Rathke – Chieforganizer@acorninternational.org