William Kramer

It’s expensive to be poor — but remittance costs are coming down

I’ve been attending a conference — the International Forum on Remittances — sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank here in Washington for the past several days. The IADB has been very active in analyzing remittance flows, and just put up a new website on the subject at http://www.iadb.org/mif/remittances/.

The conference attracted more than 600 registrants — microfinance types, commercial bankers, civil society and development community professionals. It’s clear that the issue of remittances has reached a tipping point, and why not? The numbers are pretty staggering. Officially they’re currently counting about $125 billion annually, but the real number is undoubtedly over $200 billion. Of the known 175 million adult migrants in the world, 125 million send remittances regularly, and they constitute a significant part of the disposable income of many of the world’s poor people.

As the IADB puts it in the title of their new book, we’re “Beyond Small Change.” A preliminary version of the book is available; try www.iadb.org/pub.

We’ll be working with IADB to address this topic more in the coming weeks and months. We’ll link to presentations from the conference asap.