Philippines: Remittance inflow seen to stabilize

MANILA, Philippines — Remittances from overseas Filipinos are expected to remain broadly steady this year despite the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy, according to digital payments provider WorldRemit.

Earl Melivo, WorldRemit country director for the Philippines, said the company sees the inflow of remittances to remain “resilient,” with a projected increase or decrease of only one to two percent for the whole of 2020.

“We are seeing that 2020 will end with almost the same level as last year’s total, with an approximate decline of one or two percent, or an optimistic projection of even being above by one or two percent,” Melivo said.

Melivo said that the decline in remittances was recorded at only 1.4 percent as of end-September, and further improvements are expected this month.

He said the trend of remittances peaking during the holiday season is expected to continue this December even in the aftermath of Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

“The resilience of holiday remittances to the Philippines this year can be attributed to the easing of lockdown restrictions in many countries, allowing return to work for most OFWs, as well as availability of financial aid from governments in other nations,” Melivo said.

According to a recent WorldRemit survey, 84 percent out of 3,167 respondents in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia, who have previously sent money to the Philippines, are planning to send more money or about the usual amount for Christmas this year.

More than half or 53 percent of the respondents said they want to help family and friends back home who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

About 37 percent said they want to make up for not being able to go home or visit this year, and 34 percent want to take advantage of the low exchange rate.

Latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that personal remittances from January to September declined by 1.4 percent to $24.3 billion from $24.64 billion in the same period last year.

Nevertheless, remittances in September increased by 9.1 percent to $2.89 billion from $2.65 billion a year ago, the fastest pace of growth in 29 months.

Melivo said the threat of COVID-19 and the impact of lockdowns underscored the need to utilize digital technology to provide easier access for financial services.

“With the impact of the pandemic on economic opportunities globally, it’s imperative for digital financial services like WorldRemit to be accessible to both senders and receivers,” Melivo said.

“WorldRemit continues to invest in technology and develop on our expanding network to ensure that OFWs and their recipients back home can have uninterrupted and even better access to needed financial services,” he said.