The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has revamped its innovative money transfer services “NBP Foree Cash” (instant cash delivery) and “NBP Foree Transfer” (instant transfer to bank accounts in Pakistan) by raising cap on the upper limit to half a million rupees in order to attract huge remittances during Ramazan and the festivity of Eidul Fitr.
Addressing a press conference in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), NBP’s Global Home Remittances Management Group (GHRMG) chief and SEVP Khalid Bin Shaheen said: “Ramazan is that time of the year when expatriates send money to their loved ones back home so that they could celebrate the festive occasion of Eidul Fitr,” says a message received here from Riyadh on Wednesday.
“Now, Pakistani nationals living in Saudi Arabia can easily send cash up to half a million rupees and their relatives can withdraw the amount back home from any of the NBP branches/counters in Pakistan within a few minutes after sending the money without any charges,” he remarked. He added that NBP, being truly the nation’s bank, is making all-out efforts to facilitate fund transfers through its fast, reliable, secure, convenient and free of charge service.
Khalid also highlighted some of the initiatives taken by his department, which include sending of SMS alerts to the beneficiaries and round the clock complaint resolution system. “Being an icon of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI), NBP like last year will perform an instrumental role in achieving the target of home remittances for 2015-2016,” he said.
He further said that the NBP has aggressively extended its remittance correspondence base across the globe to facilitate overseas Pakistanis in transferring their money home and discourage the use of illegal hawala/hundi channel at the same time. The NBP has also tied up with major players in the remittance business in Saudi Arabia that include Tahweel Al-Rajhi, Samba, Enjaz and Arab National Bank to make money transfers to Pakistan very simple, he said.
The NBP official said the bank’s pivotal role in accelerating home remittances business is playing a significant role in contributing to the economic growth, livelihood and prosperity of Pakistanis all around the world. He said that the NBP now over a couple of years is equally playing a major role in helping the growth of home remittances to Pakistan through its streamlined and trusted services. It is working continuously to develop innovative ideas into service features that allow to process and pay out remittances even faster resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
The NBP having the most penetrated network in Pakistan is providing comprehensive domestic distribution of remittances to beneficiaries across Pakistan, he said. “A number of renowned international exchange houses and money transfer companies from across the world, including the Middle East, Europe, Asia-Pacific and America, have been using our services with utmost trust and satisfaction,” he added.
Khalid added, “Remittances as we all know is not a new phenomenon in the world; money was being transferred even before but means and channels were different. In a broader account ‘remittance transfer’ is referred to the transfer of money from an individual, usually a person who has emigrated from his/her country of origin to another individual, usually a relative who remains in the country.”
Remittances transfers are typically low monetary payments from person to person, he said. Interestingly, he added, the impact of remittance transfers on the economies of developing nations is only beginning to be discovered. Remittance transfers have existed for centuries, but have only attracted the attention of economists and international financial institutions during the past two decades.
The NBP SEVP said that remittances constitute one of the largest and constant sources of foreign exchange earnings for developing countries including Pakistan. The flow of workers’ remittances to developing countries has grown steadily over the past three decades. The developmental impact of remittances is widespread as it affects various sectors of the economy and helps improve living standards – these are non-debt creating inflows and help in developing the financial sector in recipient countries.
He added that remittances also improve household welfare by uplifting recipient families out of poverty and elevate them out of their miseries. Annual remittances from non-resident Pakistanis have set a record as crackdown against illegal hundi transfers push people to use the formal banking channel. Bulk remittances, he said, originate from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, United Kingdom and other GCC countries. However, people still prefer to use hundi/hawala as the system provides convenience to them in the shape of door-to-door delivery, reliability (especially in the rural market) and accessibility even in far-flung areas with no bank branch for miles around.
Secondly, the NBP official said, the exchange rate offered by the banks is less favourable than that offered in the open market, which constitutes an added attraction for both the sender and the recipient. In pursuit of the national cause NBP is providing free of charge services, which is fast, convenient, secured and reliable. The NBP since long has been encouraging people to send money through proper and legal channels ie banks, he added.
He further said that remittances have been the most stable source of foreign exchange proved remarkably resilient in the face of global economic downturn. Efforts are being made to reduce the cost and time for sending remittances, including removing barriers and impediments in the remittance market, he said.