The Global Remittances Observatory

Building a comprehensive data-set on remittances prices for data-driven policies and products.


An innovative project of Monito

The Global Remittances Observatory aims at providing public and private institutions working to reduce the cost of remittances with the information and the tools they need to design and implement better products or policies, and to assess and monitor their impact.

Building on our comparison platform for money transfer services already helping thousands of migrants each month to find better options to send money home, we want to leverage our technologies and databases to empower institutional actors from the public and private sector with aggregate information on remittances prices and trends.

The Global Remittances Observatory project is in its preliminary phase, and we are now seeking financing to scale our data collection process and to develop the analysis tool and the interface necessary to make sense of the huge data set we want to build.


Introduction

A Global Observatory on Remittances Prices

Today, it is possible to say with confidence that the 200 million migrants regularly sending money back home to their families incur very high transfer costs, and that these several billions of dollars that never reach developing countries are a problem worth solving. However, the information currently available on remittances prices is neither sophisticated nor complete enough to measure the real cost of these money transfers, understand what drives cost fluctuations and monitor this rapidly evolving market.

« Today, consumers struggle to compare offers and so do the many new providers which are starting to disrupt the market. A initiative like Tawipay’s Global Remittances Observatory can contribute to more efficient international remittances markets, at the retail and wholesale levels. »
Claire Alexandre, Head of Commercial & Strategy, Mobile Payments at Vodafone

Monito’s mission is to allow migrants around the world to find cheap and convenient ways to send money back home to their families. We achieve this goal by empowering them with a clear, transparent and easy-to-use online comparison platform where they can discover and compare the best options for each of their transactions. With the Global Remittances Observatory, we want to leverage our key competences in automatic and manual data collection as well as our comprehensive understanding of the money transfer markets and its latest innovations to build a truly useful tool for institutional actors. Our socio-entrepreneurial approach guarantees the project’s long-term sustainability thanks to a viable business model.

Transparency, the way forward for remittances

The money transfer market is a complicated jungle to navigate through, with sophisticated fee schedules, hidden costs, and increasingly diverse transfer options to choose from. Rather than a lack of available services or innovation, it is the insufficiency of easily accessible and transparent information on the availability and costs of these different money transfer services which maintains the costs of remittances so high.

While we focus on delivering information to migrants who can alter their behaviours to pay less transfer fees and thereby contribute to their decrease, we are also convinced that providing institutional actors from both the public and private sector with access to our database will help reduce the cost of remittances on a macro level by fostering competition and enabling data-driven policy-making.


DATA COLLECTION

A comprehensive dataset on the costs of money transfer services

The ambitious objective of the Global Remittances Observatory is to accurately monitor around 80% of the remittances market.

For at least the 500 biggest remittances corridors, we will collect information on all the main money transfer operator’s services (pay-in and pay-out options, type and speed of transfers, etc.) and the cost of a transaction for any given amount. The update frequency will range between hourly updates and monthly updates, depending on the data collection protocol and the observed volatility of fees.

« Access to reliable data on money transfer services and their use by migrants is required to design, implement and assess international policy measures aiming at reducing remittance prices. Monito’s Global Remittances Observatory will help the international community focus their action where it has the greatest impact. »
Bruce Reed, Director, Chairperson of the IOM Remittances Task Force

To collect this huge amount of data on money transfer services (between 1 and 5 million data points per year), we will mostly rely on automatic and real-time collection systems such as APIs or web scrapers. To complete our data set where necessary and appropriate, an efficient and streamlined manual data collection process will be developed.

In addition to this dataset on money transfer services and their prices, the Global Remittances Observatory will include analytics on the behaviour of users of our comparison platform to observe, on an aggregate basis, how users interact with the market’s offer and what their needs are in real time. This will provide valuable insights into the needs of different migrants communities and what determines their decision to select one operator over another.


DATA ANALYSIS

An intuitive and powerful tool

While migrants access our dataset via a comparison website to compare services between two specific countries, institutional actors need a better macro-level view of global and regional markets and their evolution over time. We therefore want to build a dedicated tool that aggregates the data on money transfer services and their costs in order to analyze macro trends and gain insights into specific markets.

Numerous public actors (e.g. political institutions, NGOs, national governments, international organizations, think tanks and universities) are designing and implementing policies at various levels to reduce the cost of remittances. We want to provide the, with the aggregate information they need to develop better policies and then assess and monitor their results.

Many private actors are attempting to disrupt money transfers by developing innovative technologies (internet and mobile payment solutions, crypto-currencies, etc.) and business models (peer-to-peer transfers, cash-to-goods transfers). Our goal is to help consumers find and use these new ways of sending money to save on their remittances, while helping money transfer operators better engage with and understand their markets. Providing operators with more detailed information on their competitors’ prices can help them adapt their offer or discover untapped opportunities in underserved corridors for example.


USE CASES

Building indicators, monitoring markets, following trends

Building global indicators on remittances prices

Our tool will make it easy to build custom queries to extract relevant information from the dataset. This will allow constructing different indices to track the evolution of remittances prices on a global or regional level.


Following innovation trends

There is an increasing number of new ways to send money internationally: online transfer, mobile money, cash-to-goods transfers, cryptocurrencies, etc. With our tool, it will be possible to see where these new technologies are available, and what their impact is on the market they become available in.


Monitor a specific market

In some cases, such as the Somali remittance crisis, government and NGO’s are pursuing active policy measures to maintain the availability of money transfer services. In such cases, it could be very important to monitor the evolution of the offer on selected corridors and to be alerted when prices rise breach a certain level or when the number of operators fall below a threshold.


«Remittances are a vital lifeline for many people in developing countries and greater transparency of costs will benefit both senders and recipients. We welcome Tawipay’s initiative, which will allow policy-makers to get data about the impact of their policies on the availability and price of money transfers in specific remittance markets. It would for example allow us to monitor the UK-Somali corridor -which is of particular concern for DFID - and assess the impact of our efforts to keep remittances prices down between these two countries.»
Malcolm Geere, Deputy Head, Private Sector Department, DFID

A flexible API

The use-cases describe above are just a few examples of the kind of analysis and monitoring that our tool will make possible. Of course, we want it to be very flexible and to allow our users to make their own analysis, develop their own indicator, that’s why we will also develop a flexible API, which will make it possible to make custom request to our database and extract specific informations.


Interested in the Global Remittances Observatory ?

We are currently looking for partners from the public or private sector to co-finance and co-develop the project. Don't hesitate to contact us if you want to have more information about the Global Remittances Observatory and how you could play a role in it.

For any press inquiries or to request an interview, please contact us!

Pascal Briod
pascal@monito.com
+41 76 220 23 10



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