Innovations in money transfer and remittances

The past few weeks have been filled with conferences. I was in Mexico City for a conference organized by CEMLA on remittances in Latin America and a meeting there lead me to another conference in Miami, this time the IMTC conference.

Founded by Hugo Cuevas Mohr, the IMTC conferences are where practitioners, bankers and technology folks go. This was my first time at an IMTC conference and I was excited to attend.

Hugo Cuevas-Mohr at the IMCT Conference, Miami, 2019.

Having just returned from Mexico City on a Sunday, I took the Monday evening red-eye to Miami, to reach on a Tuesday, Nov 12th. Speaking of travel bugs, this was definitely a streak of travel for me, unlike any that I had encountered.

So, what did I witness at IMTC?

Quite a lot : Insights from Hugo, who is a veteran of the money transfer industry. His grand-father had a remittances/money transfer business in Colombia and he seems to have grappled with many of the issues facing this industry from an early age.

“I rode the wave of money transfers, and here I am.” he pointed out.

There were several innovative products and companies showcasing them. The most innovative one I saw was a Maya ATM machine that helps you send remittances and also do a host of other things such as pay bills etc.

And there was a firm in Africa called Baluwo, that is billed as a ‘Partner for cash-to-goods,’ meaning you can buy someone goods, rather than send cash, remotely.

Additionally, I learnt about Transfer Wise, a company that was billed as one of the cheapest ways to send money, in terms of its model of functioning. It was the ‘modern hawala’ as one speaker pointed out.

In part 2 of this post, I’ll explain some more insights gathered from this conference.

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