Louise Arbour, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for International Migration (video message)
Daniela Morari, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Republic of Moldova
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO and AirAsia X Co-Group CEO
Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, Alliance for Financial Inclusion
Bela Hovy, Chief, Migration Section, Population Division, UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
Though often maligned, migrants represent a positive economic force for hosting countries and financial markets. Migrants are often at the height of their productive years, arriving ready to work, along with skills and assets. In 2017, they contributed 9% of global GDP. These 258 million migrants (of which 47% are women and 10% are refugees) support another 800 million people back home through remittances and local investment. What they lack is safe and easy access to financial services that would facilitate the movement of money and leverage their impact.
Despite these numbers and the great wealth they represent, there remains an inadequate understanding (and data) on migration corridors and migrant profiles. Perhaps as a consequence, facilitating regulation is muddled and inefficient, and corrective legislation is languishing. As a result, every migrant dollar lost to inefficient policies is a dollar not saved by a recipient nor invested in an emerging market.
While the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) is working to make the migrant experience safe, orderly and regular, more must be done to make it effective. Public discourse must eschew xenophobia and discrimination to focus on credible facts and be guided by data. Innovative strategies must be developed to facilitate remittance transfers at lower costs, and to encourage greater investment opportunities.
Creating inclusive financial services begins with an understanding of the hurdles faced by those who are excluded. Sending money home is of critical importance and remittances are often the first financial service used by migrants, making it extremely important that they are easy to access and inexpensive to use. Likewise, appropriate financial services are often missing on the receiving end, where remittance families need the tools to save and to contribute to the economic development of the home country through investment, microfinance and insurance.
Private sector and governments can help overcome impediments faced by migrants, particularly through:
Sponsoring policies that value migrants as a positive force;
Adopting/introducing measures that promote safety for migrants generally, but also specifically in the areas of financial and consumer protection;
Providing access to efficient identification system;
Implementing AML/CFT and KYC standards that impose disproportionate requirements on the segments with limited financial literacy; and
Developing appropriate products that address the unique needs of migrants and their families.