Are you worried about receiving international cash remittances during the Coronavirus global pandemic?
We spoke to Sharon Kinyanjui, Head of East and Central Africa at WorldRemit, who answered the most common questions. Ms. Kinyanjui spoke to us about how the London-headquartered online money transfer company is supporting its customers and explained the options available to both senders and receivers.
WorldRemit allows senders in 50 countries to instantly send money via the app or online to receivers in 150 countries, including Kenya and other countries across Africa. Your sender can access WorldRemit online on www.wordremit.com or by downloading the app on an iOS or Android device to send you funds.
Can my friends and family still send money to me during the pandemic?
Yes! These are challenging times for everyone around the world, but I’d like to reassure you that we continue to provide a 24/7 global money transfer service for our customers.
Can I still collect cash during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Yes, cash pick up is still available in some commercial banks and financial service providers that have partnerships in place with us, both here in Kenya and elsewhere across the region.
Like most countries, Kenya has classified financial services as essential services and exempted them from lockdown measures. Banks and other financial service providers are therefore still operating, but under tight health and safety control measures.
This means that if you go to banks and our other partners for cash pickups, the cash payout option may not be as readily available since our partners are operating alternative opening and closing times.
Is this the case elsewhere, considering it’s a global pandemic?
Overall, cash pickup services throughout the global remittance industry are on a general downtrend at this moment due to social-distancing measures introduced by Governments. People simply aren’t going out of their homes and are shifting more of their transactions and work to online.
In some countries where we operate, we have seen a 100% swing to digital payout methods, bank accounts, mobile money or airtime top up – for example in Thailand and Fiji. But it’s still too early to tell whether or not we are looking at a 100% cashless world in the future. Cash is still king to many people around the world.
What other options do I have to receive money besides cash pick ups?
In addition to cash pick up, you can receive money directly into a bank account or mobile wallet from your sender.
The sender can also send you Airtime directly to your phone, helping you stay connected to loved ones.
You can still receive money internationally instantly to your Safaricom M-PESA wallet. In line with Central Bank regulations, WorldRemit has partnered with Safaricom to increase their transaction limits so customers can send up to KES 150,000 per transaction. The previous limit was KES 70,000 but at this time we understand the need for greater assistance.
We give our customers the option of sending money to any bank account in Kenya in both Kenya Shillings and USD, transfers happen within 24hrs. We aim to provide a first-class digital experience for our customers on both sides of the transaction. This is key today more than ever as we are now required to work from home and stay indoors.
The USD option gives our customers the chance to minimize risk of currency fluctuations when sending money to their bank accounts in Kenya. Talk to your bank about setting up a USD account.
What if I need money in cash form urgently?
Receiving money directly to a bank account or via mobile money is likely to be quicker and more reliable than waiting for cash pick up operations to open. Our service is available 24/7 via the app or on our website.
Whilst digital transfer is better at this time, if Cash Pick Up is critical, please visit www.worldremit.com or our app to see the Cash Pick Up Partners we work with and contact them directly for operational hours.
What is airtime top up?
When you connect a mobile phone to a telecom network, you need to purchase credit to enable you to use that telco network’s airtime. Airtime allows you to access the network’s services.
Direct airtime top-ups via WorldRemit are critical at this time when people are asked to work from home and stay indoors, since it allows for purchase of Internet data bundles, which support work, entertainment and keep local internet-based companies as well as SMEs in business.
If I still want cash payout, how long will the Covid-19 situation impact movement?
Restricted movements will last for as long as is needed. Governments all around the world recognise the importance of remittances and are doing their best to make sure you can access money safely. As a company, we are also doing everything possible to minimize disruption.
It is reassuring that, in Kenya, the government has spoken about protecting the economy from the aftershocks of the outbreak, which has severely impacted movement of people, goods and services.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
We know our money transfer service is crucial to you to help friends and family in areas impacted by the virus. We want you to stay safe, so where possible we ask you to choose to receive money to bank accounts or via mobile money.
At times like these, we know distances can feel greater than before. Our hearts go out to everyone who is being affected by the Coronavirus, either directly or indirectly.