While there is some considerable disagreement as to whether the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s mandate that remittance providers prominently post current exchange rates, there might be a better way to settle the problem of transparency.
Remás is a non-profit start-up that is developing technological tool to help educate migrants about their options.
The idea behind Remás is quite simple. It gives migrants a single place to compare prices of different remittance providers in their general area for no cost. The remitters can use either a computer or a mobile phone to compare the prices of different services and providers in a given zipcode. That way, migrants can compare money transfer prices as easily as one can compare the prices of books on Amazon.com.
The founder of Remás, Brendan McBride, became interested in remittances while he worked as a researcher in El Salvador and Brazil. He saw the enormous difference in living standards between families that benefitted from remittances and those that didn’t. It gave him the idea that if the cost of sending was reduced just a little bit, those benefits to people in developing countries could be magnified, and future generations would have less incentive to leave home to work.
“We’re trying to really bootstap together these tools for people to know all of their options in a sector of the economy that has had a shortage of information on what people’s options are.” -Brendan McBride, founder and executive director
The information that Remás will provide will be more accessible. It doesn’t force the remitter to walk all over town in search of the best price, and when remitters have the relevant information at their fingertips, the market can behave more efficiently and business will flow towards the most competitive provider.
McBride hopes that Remás will start operations in the latter part of 2011.