Arab postal services to set up new money transfer system

August 12th, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Aug 12 (IANS) Postal services of eight Arab countries, led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Emirates Post, have signed an agreement to set up a regional, low-cost post-to-post money transfer system. The new system would be backed by the International Financial System (IFS) software application of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the 24th UPU Congress in Geneva recently by the heads of postal services of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, apart from the UAE.

“The multilateral agreement will allow the Arab region and some countries in Asia and Africa to provide reliable and cost-effective money transfer services through secure channels to migrant workers,” the report quoted Ibrahim Bin Karam, chief executive of Emirates Post, as saying.

“The service has huge potential as over 80 percent of the UAE population consists of expatriates, and the situation is somewhat similar in other Gulf countries,” he added.

There are over 4.8 million expatriate Indians in the Gulf and 1.5 million of them are in the UAE.

The project, launched by the Arab League and implemented by a regional steering committee chaired by Emirates Post and supported by French Post, will allow participating postal operators to conduct money transfer operations on a multilateral basis.

The new service is expected to significantly boost UPU’s efforts to improve access to secure and reliable money transfer services through formal channels for rural populations, and more specifically for migrant workers.

A large number of expatriate Indians in the Gulf are working as contract labourers in the construction sector and as domestic workers.

According to WAM, other Arab countries are expected to join the regional network by the end of 2008.

UPU’s IFS is a reliable, adaptable and easy-to-use tool and can be installed in the remotest areas of the world.

The UPU anticipates that financial services could generate up to 50 percent of a country’s postal revenues, and by promoting IFS, the dominance of big players would be reduced, thus offering customers, especially migrant workers, a cost-effective system of electronic money transfer, the report said.

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