NEW  SYSTEM  ALLOWS  LOWER  REMITTANCE  FEES  FOR  OFWs

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 5, 2007
(STAR) By Jose Rodel Clapano - Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) can now avail of the National Cash Card program or N-Cash of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) that will lower dollar remittance fees.

The NATCCO, in coordination with the government-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, launched yesterday at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati, the $1 per transaction remittance system for OFWs in various countries.

Zubiri, chairman of the Senate committee on cooperatives, said the average remittance fee is 13.5 percent of the amount remitted and the International Monetary Fund had reported that the average amount remitted by Filipino workers is $200 a month with the deduction of 13.5 percent remittance fee which is equal to $27.

The N-Cash will only charge a $1 remittance fee for every $200 transaction, much lower than what the OFWs are now paying.

NATCCO chief executive officer (CEO) Cresente Paez told a press conference during the launching that N-Cash is a cash card issued by the agency which can be used for a “Card-to-Card remittance; prepaid cell phone loading and bills payment.”

“Filipinos in all areas of our island nation will now be able to conduct financial transactions without having to go to the nearest urban center which is often many kilometers and many hours away,” Paez said.

Paez said NATCCO’s existing Internet facilities could enable the cardholders to proceed with a transaction, such as remitting the money to their families in the Philippines, by only sending a text message.

He said NATCCO recently signed a cooperation agreement with the iPay Solutions, as its technology partners, for the implementation of the N-Cash program.

“The agreement allows NATCCO use the payment platform developed by iPay to offer our member cooperatives and individuals basic financial services that are more easy and convenient to use,” Paez said.

Zubiri said the remittances of OFWs are a key contributor to the economy.

He said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported last year that the Filipino workers sent $12.8 billion to their families in the Philippines.

Zubiri said a little known fact is that it cost the OFWs $1.7 billion in transaction fees to bring in the $12.8 billion, based on the current prevailing 13.5 percent remittance fee.

Once the OFWs use the N-Cash, the $12.8 billion remitted last year will now cost only $64 million and save the Filipino workers $1.663 billion.

Zubiri said that NATCCO’s N-Cash program will reduce the cost of dollar remittances from the current cost of $27 per transaction to just $1 per transaction.

NATCCO chairman Wilfredo Dimamay said that the maximum amount that can be remitted through the N-Cash is $2,000.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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