Visa, UnionBank tie up for money transfer business

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Global credit card company Visa Inc. has entered the local remittance market with the launch of a new service that allows Filipinos in the Middle East to send money directly to their loved ones’ credit cards in the country.

In a briefing earlier this week, the company announced its new partnership with UnionBank of the Philippines for a new service that lets users receive cash from abroad to their Visa debit cards—the first of its kind in Asia.

The service, which uses Visa’s Personal Payment technology, was developed in partnership with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Exchange, a leading provider of remittance services in the Middle East.

“(This) will be the first remitter to offer the service to the Philippines, with other key markets for Filipinos working overseas added in the coming months,” it said in a statement.

It said the new service would give “millions of cardholders a faster and more convenient way to receive everyday remittances.”

Dubbed as Visa Personal Payments, the new service would allow Filipinos with local Visa debit cards, issued by UnionBank, to receive funds in near real time, putting money from thousands of miles away in recipients’ hands in a matter of minutes. The cash is sent by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) through UAE Exchange branches abroad.

The cash can then be withdrawn at the nearest automated teller machines (ATM) or used to pay for services such as bill settlements or even grocery purchases.

“Adding a remittance feature to Visa cards makes a lot of sense as the Philippines is one of the most sophisticated remittance markets,” Visa Philippines country manager Iain Jamieson said.

About eight million Filipinos currently work abroad, remitting a total of $18.8 billion to their families in the Philippines every year based on 2010 figures from the central bank.

“Visa cards offer the best way to make purchases and withdraw cash, and they are now the best way to receive overseas remittances as well,” he said.—Paolo G. Montecillo

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