Tue | Sep 25, 2018

GK grabs for larger share of remittance pie

Published:Friday | July 27, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Yolande Gyles Levy, communication and sponsorship manager.

GraceKennedy Money Services Limited, GKMS, indicated on Wednesday that it is determined to make an impact on the outbound remittance market, a space that is currently dominated by local commercial banks.

GKMS, which is the exclusive agent for Western Union, has previously claimed that it handles half of the transactions in the remittance market, but is now withholding comment on its market share.

The most recent industry data from the central bank estimates the value of inbound tran-sactions at US$2.3 billion over the span of a year ending March 2018, which translates to $307 billion at current exchange rates. That side of the market is dominated 86 per cent by remittance companies, with GKMS and MoneyGram leading the pack, and is 10 times larger than outbound remittances, which were valued at US$239 million, or $31 billion, over the same period.

GKMS aims to leverage its months-old Western Union online platform launched in April to drive up outbound transactions, according to Communication and Sponsorship Manager Yolande Gyles Levy.

"There is a new thrust by Western Union and GKMS to become major players in the digital space," said Gyles Levy. The platform accommodates transfers using debit and credit cards, which "has opened the market to a whole new customer segment that prefers to play in the digital space. We believe this untapped customer segment will prove to be a driver for WU customer growth in Jamaica," she said.

The central bank data on remittances breaks down the market share held by remittance companies as a block, but does not do the same for outbound transfers. GKMS was also unwilling to share the information, "but can assure you that the non-remittance entities, such as banks, occupy the lion's share of this market," Gyles Levy said.

GKMS will be giving away $2.8 million in prizes to persons who send or receive money under a promotion campaign called 'Money Wi Sey' that will run to December. The campaign is also aimed at driving users to the WU online platform.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com