IRnet Extends Focus As It Surpasses the $1 Billion Distribution Mark
A Bolivian family's house before they received remittances.
Since 2001, the International Remittance
(IRnet) has distributed nearly 2.5 million
transactions worldwide and in February 2006, it
surpassed the $1 billion mark in remittance
Since its inception in 2000, IRnet has
its distribution to about 900 points of service
through credit unions in Bolivia, Ecuador, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico,
and Nicaragua. It has also improved its scope of
service by connecting with non-credit union
outlets through strategic alliances with money
transfer operators (MTOs) such as VIGO Remittance
Corporation, MoneyGram, and Travelex.
Remittances account for the majority of the
domestic product and exceed the amount of foreign
direct investment and foreign aid in some
countries. Most recipients are from households
that have a per capita income of less than $1 per
day. Remittances increase that amount by an
average of $16 per day for 41% of receiving
As the remittance industry continues to
healthy competitiveness in providing safe, fair,
and economical transfers, IRnet has
focus beyond solely providing remittances to
explore how the money is actually invested once
it is received.
The family's new house, financed by IRnet remittances.
While many of the remittance receivers are
unbanked (Business Week recently reported
fewer than 10% of remittance recipients have bank
accounts), IRnet services have attracted a
greater number of people to whom financial
services and education are being offered through
the credit unions.
"Offering remittance services is a way to get
people into credit unions and to educate them
into using credit union services, such as
borrowing, saving, and securing loans for micro-
enterprising," IRnet Officer Tiffany
The majority of recipients who choose to save
portion of their remittances in financial
institutions identify credit unions as their bank
of choice. Of those who don't deposit their money
into savings, 65% have expressed an interest in
starting an account, according to a 2004 survey
in Guatemala. Almost three-quarters of member
recipients in Guatemala alone have become credit
union members since IRnet began.
Priorities for 2006 include plans to add new
countries and payers to the credit union network,
to develop targeted services linked to
remittances that would help beneficiaries save
the money they receive, and to devise marketing
tools to draw more people to credit union
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.