Local money transfer lifelines under threat as remitters face extinction

Hundreds of migrant communities across Australia will lose their ability to send money home to family and friends safely and securely if banks continue their plans to close the accounts of remitters.

Without bank accounts in Australia, money transfer providers cannot complete the transfer of their customers’ funds to destination countries, which means that hundreds of thousands of Filipino migrants will no longer be able to support their families and communities overseas.

For many Filipinos living in Australia, the low-cost, secure money transfer services of registered remitters is the only way they can send essential funds home safely and securely. These funds are considered a lifeline to the many communities that depend on them.

In recognition of the significant impact of this action by major Australian banks, a new organisation, made up of Australia’s regulated money remittance and currency providers has formed the Australian Remittance and Currency Providers Association (ARCPA) — to work with Government and the banking industry to save these critical remittance services.

“Our members are an integral part of all local communities. They provide a safe, essential, low-cost and fast service to send funds to relatives and communities overseas, many of these transfers are a lifeline to the recipients,” said Dianne Nguyen, Director and spokesperson, ARCPA.

“Our members’ services often go above and beyond the services provided by banks. In some cases we hand deliver funds in locations that are impossible to reach and where customers do not have a bank or bank account. Our services are critical to many communities, both here in Australia and overseas,” she said.

This situation is urgent.

Since 2010, major Australian national and regional banks and Australian branches of foreign banks started to close the accounts of remittance providers. Westpac, the last of the major four Australian banks to offer remittance services, closed remitters’ accounts on Monday 24th November 2014. This is a disaster for remittance providers, as they have no options for banking in Australia.

Banks cited the risk of remittances being used for money-laundering and terrorism financing as the reason for closing off the industry, despite the average remittance transaction amounting to only AUD$300 and the majority of destination countries are considered low risk.

“Our customers are forced to pay more for expensive and cumbersome remittance transactions through banks or seek alternative, unregulated and underground options.

Members of ARCPA are regulated remitters. As an association we are working on professional standards to provide even greater confidence to the banks. We feel that the stance taken by banks is unnecessary and unfair.”

ARCPA has started discussions with the Australian Government, and is campaigning to find a collaborative solution with the stakeholders involved.

ARCPA is calling on the Filipino community to voice their concerns by signing a petition:

  • • Online at <www.arcpa.org.au>
  • • By visiting your local money transfer business to pick up a petition letter which will be mailed to the local MP.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ARCPA, contact Enrique Campos Jr. on 0438 267 100 or enrique.campos@arcpa.org.au.