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Western Union now offering direct ‘cash to account’ money transfers from Jamaica

Published:Friday | September 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Jamaicans can now send money through Western Union directly to accounts at participating banks in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Japan and China.

GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS), the operating company for the Western Union franchise in Jamaica and the Caribbean, calls it a 'cash-to-account' service.

It effectively treats Jamaica as a source market for remittances, as opposed to its traditional position as a recipient of foreign flows.

Remittances into Jamaica total more than US$2 billion annually, for which the United States is the primary source market. Remittance outflows have been trending down - in 2012 they amounted to US$267 million, but was at US$233 million last year. However, last year's flows broke the downward trajectory, having recovered from US$227 million the year before, according to Bank of Jamaica data.

In its pitch for its new service, a GKMS/Western Union press release noted that: "Many Jamaicans have experienced improving economic circum-stances over the last decade - with GDP increasing by 27 per cent between 2005 and 2015, according to the World Bank - enabling them to send money overseas to loved ones in the US, UK, and a host of other countries."

In 2015, remittance outflows reached $232.8 million, according to data from the Bank of Jamaica.

"Western Union's advancing cross-border fintech capability is enabling us to serve both existing and new bank-centric and tech-savvy customers," said Sean Mason, vice-president and general manager for Western Union Caribbean. "We are connecting more people, across more channels with speed and ease," he said.

Western Union has operated in Jamaica for more than two decades.