On October 15, 2014, Appleseed and the Fair Remittance Alliance hosted a roundtable on new remittance rights during Global Diaspora Week. In a very opened format, this workshop chaired by Director of Appleseed’s Financial Access and Asset Building program Annette LoVoi, aimed to share that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has implemented a new consumer protection remittance rule, and to discuss why it means good news for immigrants and consumers sending money abroad.
Remittances, or small sums of money sent by consumers to family and friends in foreign countries, help reduce poverty. More money is sent through remittances than through foreign aid—the World Bank estimates that remittances in 2012 totaled $534 billion. In the past, lack of transparency and error resolution has long hindered consumers’ ability to send money home. But now, thanks to the final remittance rule of the Dodd-Frank Act, consumers can more easily shop for the best remittance deal.
The remittance rule requires remittance providers to disclose up front the price of the transaction—including exchange rates and fees on both ends of the transfer. This way, consumers know exactly how much money will be received before they pay, so they can compare providers and choose the best deal. The rule also requires remittance providers to let consumers know when the money has arrived for pickup, with some guarantees on price and date of availability.
What to do if the money is sent to the wrong pickup location, isn’t available on time, or gets lost in the process? Consumers now have the right to make a complaint to the provider. The provider is then required to investigate the complaint, and the consumer can even file a complaint with the CFPB for further investigation if he or she is not satisfied.
“After almost ten years of work on remittances, we commend the CFPB for getting these final aspects of the rule issued,” said LoVoi. “The rule is a win for consumers, because it allows them to choose the best option. It’s also a win for remittance companies, because they have the opportunity to treat consumers fairly and respectfully.”
The workshop had a broad diaspora reach, with attendees from Asian press, the Mexican Embassy, and from Uganda. Further, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a union that plans to recruit and serve immigrant low-wage workers and Stephen Lank, Vice President of Cesco Linguistic Services, demonstrated their willing to collaborate with Appleseed on follow-up projects.
The updated information engaged participants and generated additional ideas about how to shop for the best deal to send money home, how to fix problems, and how to send complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database.