United States still the biggest remittance sender to the PH


Daniel Webber
Daniel Webber
Founder & CEO
Daniel is Founder and CEO of FXcompared and has 18 years of experience in the international finance world focusing on cross-border payments, technology and the property sectors. Daniel is widely… Read more
  • The Philippines received over $9 billion in remittances in 2018 and more than a third of it came from the United States
  • The US is a primary destination of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and remains one despite Mr Trump’s protectionist policies
  • Western Union, PayPal and Xoom are the most common modes of transfer

The United States remains the top remittance sender to the Philippines, data that the Philippine central bank confirmed last week. While the US tightened its immigration and labour policies in recent months due to overstaying Filipinos, the country is still a primary destination for Philippine workers. The United States is home to over 4 million Filipinos based on the latest census and most of them transfer money internationally on a regular basis to support family back home.

Most Filipinos living and working in the US send money through remittance giant Western Union. The brand has thousands of agent locations across the Philippines. These remittance centres are usually housed by pawn shops, reports say. Other transfer methods include PayPal and PayPal’s remittance arm Xoom. Xoom has partnered with major Philippine banks in recent years.

Despite relatively high overseas transfer rates, remittances coming from the United States reached a whopping $9.986 billion by the end of 2018. According to Business Insider, a Philippine-based magazine, the amount makes up 34.5% of the total inflow to the country.

The central bank raised concerns late last year that remittances coming from the US will not be as high as that of 2017 due to Mr Trump’s immigration policies. However, Filipinos in America were still able to top their 2017 numbers, growing said numbers by 6%.

While the United States economy is still reeling from Wall Street’s fall last December, remittances to the Philippines are doing extremely well, according to observers. In fact, the central bank is hopeful that money coming from America will increase this year. This is despite a negative outlook for global remittances in general.

“Cash remittances in 2018 remained strong amid political uncertainties across the globe. This is evident in Asia, the Americas and Europe, which grew annually by 12.3%, 9.7% and 7.7%, respectively”, representatives from the Philippine central bank said.

Apart from the United States, Saudi Arabia is also another huge remittance source. Filipinos in the country reportedly sent $2.23 billion to the Philippines in 2018, representing 7.7% of the total inflow to the country. Saudi Arabia is followed by the United Arab Emirates, which sent another $2 billion to the Philippines in the same year.

“The growth in these regions made up for the 15.3% decrease in remittances from the Middle East, partly due to the continued repatriation program of the government”, the central bank noted.

Singapore, the home of many of Asia’s up-and-coming fintechs, also has Filipino workers, and the money they sent home last year amounted to $1.85 billion. Singapore is followed by Japan with $1.5 billion.

Philippine migrant workers in the United Kingdom sent $1.497 billion to the country in 2018 as well. The Philippines reportedly received a total of $28.9 billion.

Find out more about the remittance industry here.

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