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Co-op bank eyes diaspora market as remittances increase

By Frankline Sunday | August 3rd 2021

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As economies around the world continue to reel from the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, global remittances have emerged as a saving lifeline for millions of residents in low-income countries.

In Kenya, diaspora remittances have traditionally been a key source of income for many citizens with recent statistics indicating a spike in inflows in the wake of the economic disruption from COVID-19.

According to data from the Central Bank of Kenya, CBK, Kenyans in the diaspora sent in a total of Sh33.7 billion in the month of May 2021 marking a high of more than 13 months.

The pattern has been sustained throughout the first half of this year, with the diaspora community sending an average of Sh31.2 billion monthly to Kenya for the first six months of 2021.

As one of the leading service providers in Kenya, Co-operative Bank has been ramping up its money transfer offering to give clients operating from outside the country various options to conveniently send money home.

In December 2020 cooperative bank teamed with cross-border payment firm Thunes to launch an alternative world-wide money transfer solution; Co-opRemit.

Co-opRemit is a service that allows clients to process real-time money transfers particularly within Africa, giving those in Kenya an easy way to move funds across the world quickly and affordably.

The service also allows customers to send money directly to a foreign bank account or mobile number. Money transfers through this platform will bear no extra charge beyond the tariff, giving customers full transparency on the forex fees used.

The partnership is also boosted by Thunes’ global network which is fully integrated and accessible from all locations.

Co-opRemit users are able to access the service from any of the bank’s 150 branches in Kenya and through mobile and internet banking channels.

The partnership is the latest move by the Co-operative Bank to improve its service and value offering to clients outside the country and those seeking new or alternative money transfer services.         

Co-opRemit has proven ideal for MSMEs, parents with children studying abroad, as well as persons with relatives seeking medical treatment abroad.

Customers can send a maximum of Sh1,000,000 per day with charges ranging between USD2.50 and USD 12.50 depending on the amount transferred.

In addition to Co-opRemit, the bank has a dedicated Diaspora Banking Department that constantly seeks out partnerships with service providers across the globe to ensure a variety of products and services are available to customers.

This includes a recent partnership with leading money transfer company World Remit to the more than 6 million Co-operative Bank account holders.

The partnership allows Kenyans in the diaspora in more than 50 countries to send money directly to their loved ones’ personal Co-operative Bank accounts across all the 150 branches.

Customers can also initiate transfers directly from their mobile phones and the receiver can withdraw funds from the nearest Co-op Bank agent, ATM or at the branch.

The partnerships have also been augmented with investment in the latest in digital technology that allows the bank a presence in virtually every corner of the world. In 2019 Co-Operative Bank rolled out a new Internet Banking solution to push the lender’s new digital drive that aspires for an omni-channel banking experience.

Co-Op Online taps on high internet speeds and enhanced security features and this has contributed to direct growth in the bank’s customer base particularly in the diaspora.

In addition to this, customers also have access to Transfast, a service that allows account h holders to make account to account transfers that can be withdrawn in any co-op branch country-wide.

To withdraw the funds, customers are only required to give an identification document such as a National ID, passport or alien certificate, full names of the sender and amount expected.

Customers also have the option of receiving funds directly in their mobile wallet if the sender so indicates, offering more convenience at no additional costs.

Businesses and institutions including SACCOs that have accounts at Co-operative Bank also have access to a range of money transfer services at their disposal.

Instant Cash for example is an offering that provides both individual and institution accounts the chance to transfer money safely and securely from more than 250,000 locations across the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Nepal, India, Bangaldesh and the USA.

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