WASHINGTON The World Bank is wrapping up a global survey to examine if "de-risking" is leading banks to disassociate from remittance businesses in areas prone to money-laundering activities.
In recent years there have been a growing number of reports that banks are cutting ties with money transfer operators on a wholesale basis because the costs of anti-money laundering requirements outweigh the revenue stream from the business.
However, while there is near-universal acceptance of a de-risking trend, direct evidence to prove its existence has been lacking.
"Apart from these anecdotal reports, there has been no substantiated and comprehensive data on how adverse the situation has become for [money transfer operators] and the global remittances market in general," Massimo Cirasino, head of the payment systems development group at the World Bank, said in a June 30 blog posting on the bank's website. "The impact on remittance flows and costs has not yet been evident as so far MTOs have been able to continuously adapt their business model to the changing conditions of the market."
The survey, which was conducted with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, was available to institutions in Group of 20 countries with a separate questionnaire for banks and one for money transfer businesses. ACAMS Today, a publication for anti-money laundering specialists, is reporting that Friday is the last day to submit responses.
"Considering that more than 250 million international migrants regularly send money back home, it's important that remittance services continue to be accessible, affordable and efficient," Cirsimo wrote in his blog.
He added, "If legal channels through which to send remittances are curtailed, it's possible that these huge flows of money could be driven underground and channeled through illegal routes, which would create a potential for abuse by criminal organizations."