Free Remittance Offer By BofA Downplayed

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The recent move by Bank of America to make its remittance service to Mexico free to anyone with a BofA checking account has been met with a yawn by the World Council of Credit Unions, whose IRnet remittance service seemingly would be effected.

Asked what WOCCU plans to do to counter BofA's action, Pablo DeFilippi, IRnet products and services manager for WOCCU, replied, "Nothing. BofA did that in Chicago earlier this year. In our opinion, anything financial institutions do to reach immigrants is a good thing."

However, he added, new immigrants are not people who are savvy in financial matters, nor do they have experience dealing with financial institutions. "I think what BofA is doing is good, but I don't think it is going to be effective. It will be very difficult for immigrants to approach financial institutions. It is very intimidating. There are documentation requirements and language barriers. A checking account is not easy or convenient for immigrants to use."

DeFilippi said WOCCU would like to see financial institutions be more active in their relationships with immigrants. He also dismissed the idea BofA's new service would hurt IRnet's volumes. "If BofA announced tomorrow they are opening branches in every immigrant community, then I'd be worried."

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