Among the largest source markets for remittances globally, new Visa research shows Saudi Arabia is seeing more consumers turn to digital apps for international money transfers
- Around 70% of surveyed remittance users across Saudi Arabia have used an app-based digital payment method to send or receive money internationally, in comparison to 53% globally
- Forty-nine percent of surveyed remittance senders and 47% of surveyed remittance recipients believe that making it easier to send money to other countries is the key benefit of digital payments
- Among remittance senders who do not use digital methods, 43% are very likely to use digital transfers in the future
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – April 04, 2023 – Remittances are not only a lifeline for millions of expatriate workers and their families, they are also vitally important for the prosperity of many developing economies around the world. As the amount of global remittance inflows continues to reach new records1, around 70% of surveyed consumers in Saudi Arabia are turning to digital apps to send and receive funds internationally, in comparison to 53% of consumers globally.
Visa (NYSE: V), the world’s leader in digital payments, recently unveiled its “Money Travels: 2023 Digital Remittances Adoption” research report, a survey of over 14,000 consumers across ten countries, revealing that digital remittances are quickly becoming the most popular way to move money internationally, compared to going to a physical bank or branch (34%); sending cash, checks or money orders by mail (12%); or giving money to another person who is traveling to their home country (11%).
In comparison, 69% of remittance senders surveyed in Saudi Arabia use app-based digital transfers, compared to sending cash by mail (10%); or giving money to another person who is traveling to their home country (14%).
In conjunction with the study, Visa launched “Money Travels,” a new podcast series unearthing how payment-related topics unfold differently in various places around the world and highlighting the stories of real people, payment experts and partners.
“Fast, easy and secure payments can make a profound difference to families, communities and economies around the world,” said Ali Bailoun, Visa’s Regional General Manager for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman. “This new research shows significant acceleration of digital payments in Saudi Arabia, home to a large community of expatriate workers whose families are solely dependent on their earnings. Still, there is more the industry can do to bring streamlined remittances within reach for more migrant workers and their families who rely on these lifeline payments to do everything from pay for food, education, or even unforeseen medical costs.”
In Saudi Arabia, Visa has enabled Visa Direct through local partners to help meet the growing demand among KSA consumers for a quicker, easier and more secure remittances experience. Currently, SABB and Al Rajhi Visa cardholders are able to use Visa Direct to send money to over 70 countries in real-time and with the backing of Visa’s security technology.
The Money Travels: 2023 Digital Remittances Adoption study examines how consumers in the KSA market send money abroad, diving into the rates, methods, and reasons for sending and receiving these lifeline payments. Highlights include:
- Digital remittances are the preferred method amongst surveyed consumers across Saudi Arabia. Around 70% of surveyed remittance users across Saudi Arabia have used an app-based digital payment method to send or receive money internationally, whereas only 8%-14% of surveyed KSA remittance users rely on cash.
- Remittance users in Saudi Arabia believe they will use digital money transfers more frequently in the future while they expect other behaviors to remain relatively stable. Fifty-five percent of surveyed remittance users intend to use digital money transfers more often within the next 12 months compared to the 4% who don’t foresee adopting to digital remittance methodologies.
- Fees – including how exchange rates are calculated - are common pain point for digital transfers among consumers surveyed in Saudi Arabia. Thirty-eight percent of surveyed remittance senders and 31% surveyed remittance recipients reported fees as a pain point; 23% of surveyed remittance senders and 20% of surveyed remittance recipients reported issues with calculating the exchange rate.
- Only a few remittance senders in Saudi Arabia have not used digital methods, but even those non-adopters are likely to use digital transfers in the future. Forty-three percent of surveyed remittance senders are very likely to use digital transfers in the future; while none have reported that they are highly unlikely to do so.
- Most remittance users in Saudi Arabia believe digital transfers will have a positive benefit, including making it easier to send money, and making sending money more secure. Forty-nine percent of surveyed remittance senders and 47% of surveyed remittance recipients believe that making it easier to send money to other countries is the key benefit of digital payments, while ensuring that the money being sent safely, privately and quicky follows in terms of the positives of digital payments.
Visa works in collaboration with global remitters such as Brightwell, Paysend, Western Union and Xoom to help enable efficient money movement through digitized remittances. “One of our visions for Visa Direct is to create new opportunities for financial inclusion and wealth building by helping to simplify cross-border payments and streamlet the way money travels. We believe that simplifying cross-border payments will enable a better financial tomorrow for societies in KSA and across the globe,” continued Bailoun.
A new “The Connective Power of Remittances” Nonstop Guide explores the rise of digital remittances, the tales behind these types of payments and how the digital revolution is helping streamline remittance payments. For more information about Visa Direct, please visit: https://usa.visa.com/run-your-business/visa-direct/payment-guides/remittances.html.
This survey was conducted by Morning Consult during December 14-28, 2022 among a sample of 14,000+remittance senders and receivers across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Peru, France, Poland, Philippines, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The interviews were conducted online. Within each country, survey respondents are weighted based on census estimates for age, race/ethnicity, gender, education, and region.