African money transfer firms thrive as pandemic spurs online remittances

Money By Reuters November 9, 2020

Many African migrants are now using digital transfer services, often for the first time, because of the pandemic, per a new Rueters report. As a result, many African money transfer firms are thriving, driving a boom for Africa-focused money transfer companies, despite predictions from the World Bank of a historic 20% drop to $445 billion in remittances to poorer countries this year.

“We’ve seen an influx of new customers, and we see them mainly coming to us from the informal market,” Andy Jury, chief executive of Mukuru, told the news agency adding that he had seen a roughly 75% acceleration in growth compared to last year for his global remittance company, with its headquarters in South Africa. Similarly, online remittance company WorldRemit reported last week that transfers to Zimbabwe via its service had doubled over the past six months, despite the pandemic.

And Azimo, a UK-headquartered remittance company whose major African markets include Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, saw a nearly 200% increase over the expected number of new customers in April, May and June.

“I’d swap it out for no pandemic any day of the week,” Azimo CEO Michael Kent told Reuters. “But given that’s what’s happening, I think you are seeing digital adoption in financial services all over the place.”

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