The Pew Research Center has built an interesting interactive map
of remittance flows worldwide in 2012. International migrants sent $529 billion in remittances alone last year. Here's a look at one data set, the flow of money sent by migrants living in the US back to families in their country of origin.
Source: Pew Research Center
The United States accounts for nearly a quarter of all the remittances sent in 2012, with $123.3 billion flowing out of the country. The top recipient countries of these remittances were Mexico ($22 billion),China ($13 billion), and India ($12 billion).
India is the world's top receiver of remittances, with $69.2 million sent to the country in 2012. The United Arab Emirates was the top source of remittances (at $15.6 billion), followed by the United States ($12 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($8.3 billion).
Source: Pew Research Center
The report from Pew notes that tracking remittances is problematic because many countries do not track funds that are sent to or received by their citizens. The data used by Pew compiled from a statistical model built by the World Bank to estimate remittances, and therefore there may be some room for error.
A majority of remittances travel to developing countries. According to The World Bank, $401 billion dollars were sent to developing countries in 2012-constituting more than three-fourths of total remittances sent worldwide. The World Bank projects that this number will grow to $590 in 2014, as momentum picks up in migrant workers sending money home.
Major players in the remittance, or money transfer, industry include Western Union (NYSE:WU), Moneygram (NASDAQ:MGI), and Euronet Worldwide (NASDAQ:EEFT). In markets like Asia and Africa, mobile phone money transfer providers Xoom (NASDAQ:XOOM), Remit2India, and Azimo have grown significantly. Some believe that the remittance industry will be upturned by digital currencies like Bitcoin, which offer ways to transfer money very quickly with transaction costs much lower than those charged by traditional money transfer companies.
Time will tell if the money transfer market adopts these volatile digital currencies.
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