This session promoted open dialogue between key players in remittance flows. Financial institutions presented examples of successful methodologies that serve the migrant market, including low-cost remittance products, deposit accounts and other banking services. The session discussed opportunities that remittance flows represent in microfinance, both urban and rural financial institutions. Case studies and methodologies for financial institutions to integrate remittance services in their operations were also discussed.
Migrant investments and gender dimension
The first session discussed migrant capital in public-private sector partnerships and the links between migrant associations and their communities of origin. The session also examined incentives for senders to invest in productive activities in their countries of origin.
New financial initiatives, such as financial platforms for angel investors, mechanisms for channelling remittances through hometown associations, and a range of special investment funds for SME start-ups, are among the topics discussed.
Following this session, a panel on the gender dimension of remittances took place. Women represent almost half of the estimated 200 million economic migrants in the world, and they are also often the heads of households that receive remittances.
Remittances can enhance the economic status of women and change traditional gender roles and ideologies. However, very little research has been conducted on the gender dimension of remittances. The development potential of remittances can be increased by looking at remittances from a gender perspective.
Technology and innovation
In the past decade, technological development has greatly enhanced the remittance market. Affordable software and hardware have enabled a multitude of institutions to enter the remittance market and to provide remittance services.
Technology has increased competition and spurred innovation within remittance service providers. Remittance services are being linked to other financial services, allowing senders and recipients to leverage their funds and gain access to more options to leverage their money. This session focused on technological solutions and business models, including integrated and specialized money transfer systems, cellphones and internet-based solutions, as well as traditional platforms. These applications were also discussed in the context of the rural sector.
Development and remittances
Over the past five years, international development institutions have been studying and developing strategies to maximize the impact of remittances in recipient countries.
This session focused on ongoing and recent programmes carried out by development agencies and government
institutions to share knowledge, identify market distortions and find mechanisms to leverage remittance flows in the countries where they are received. It presented updates on task force initiatives on remittances. Additionally, the session provided an opportunity for agencies working in the field of remittances to coordinate their efforts.