x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Bank's remittance option that pays beyond the grave

The UAE's Mashreq has devised a new - and some might say morbid - scheme for customers sending money home.

Expatriates, who make up about 80 per cent of the UAE's population, sent home Dh10 billion a month in remittances last year. Pawan Singh / The National
Expatriates, who make up about 80 per cent of the UAE's population, sent home Dh10 billion a month in remittances last year. Pawan Singh / The National

Mashreq has devised a new - and some might say morbid - scheme to attract customers in the country's lucrative remittance market.

It will pay a beneficiary 12 times the total amount transferred in the past 30 days, up to the value of Dh100,000 (US$27,224), if the person who sends money home dies or is disabled in an accident and cannot work.

Families can claim the benefit - dubbed "Remit Shield" - after one remittance, and the service is free.

"Every customer is eligible to enjoy the benefits that come with this product," said Tooran Asif, the head of personal banking at Mashreq. "It's a financial product that we feel [strongly] about. One which will be beneficial to our customers."

And there is no shortage of potential remittance clients in the Emirates, where expatriates make up about 80 per cent of the population.

Last year, it was estimated that Dh10 billion was sent home by foreign workers every month.

Mr Asif would not reveal how many remittances are made via Mashreq each month, but he said it was a significant number.

"Our remittance business is thriving, given the stability of the market and especially that the industry is picking up and growing."

The promise will give families peace of mind while giving the money transferred more value, he added.

"We all realise the significance of family and the importance [of sustaining] support to them. With Remit Shield customers can feel comfortable knowing that their bank will offer the assistance in times of need," said Mr Asif.

Brett Meyers, the managing director of CurrencyFair.com, said if Mashreq was true to its word in offering a fee-free service its customers would indeed receive a better deal than they were getting before.

"It doesn't necessarily mean they are getting a good deal, though. I don't have access to the numbers, but I would be surprised if customers were not far better off by using a low-cost international payments provider to do the transfer and use some of the savings to purchase an insurance product separately if they feel that it is something that they need to have," he added.

gduncan@thenational.ae