Is Cash Still King? A Look at Cash-Based Remittances in 2020

Byron Mühlberg, writer at
Mar 10, 2021
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  • Money transfer comparisons for cash-based receipt methods formed a sizeable minority of searches to Arab States, Latin America, and Africa in 2020, but remained negligible to Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America;
  • Of the 10 largest money transfer corridors by search volume, two (the US to Mexico and the US to Colombia) were dominated by cash-based money transfer methods in 2020;
  • The global cash-based remittance market remains highly competitive, with no single operator offering the lowest pricing on a significant majority of searches in 2020.

The following results derive from a non-exhaustive analysis of search trends on Monito's comparison tool over the course of 2020. Data should not be construed as indicative of conclusive market dynamics at large.

Cash-based money transfer services formed a sizeable minority of transfer service comparisons worldwide in 2020. They were the majority receipt method for transfers destined for the Arab States (55.3%), and also a large minority of comparisons to Latin America (48.8%) and Africa (40.9%). In Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America, where banking services are widespread, cash-based services were compared on only 11.3%, 8.5%, and 1.9% of searches.

In terms of absolute numbers, users sent cash-based remittances in 2020 (constituting cash pickup and cash home delivery services) most frequently to Latin America, where they constituted 45.02% and 39.73% of global comparison conversions for these segments, respectively.

Several of the largest cash-based money transfer corridors based on the relative number of comparisons were from the United States (US) to Mexico, the US to Colombia, Spain to Colombia, and France to Morocco with the number of money transfer comparisons for cash-based receipt methods for each exceeding 86% in 2020.

Despite the prevalence of non-cash payment methods in several countries worldwide, our analysis indicated no or little relationship between domestic cash use and cash-based receipt methods for inward money transfers.

Finally, search engine data from 2020 suggested that the global cash-based remittance market is very competitive, with the eight most-frequently cheapest international money transfer operators (WorldRemit, Remitly, Azimo, MoneyGram, Ria, Xoom, EasySend, and Western Union) only constituting a combined 51.85% of comparisons for which two or more services were available.

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