With the Peso depreciating against the U.S. Dollar, will Filipinos be more likely to send more money home?
What’s the best time to send money to your loved ones in the Philippines?
Now would be good. That’s what Xoom discovered as the result of its survey of the global money transfer company’s customers, conducted in January 2014.
We see that 40 percent of the respondents said they plan to send more money home now that the peso is depreciating.
It’s about timing and money. The Philippine peso is depreciating against the U.S. dollar and has reached the 45 peso to the dollar level, the first time in four years it has hit that mark (as of February 11, 2014).
We know that when the peso depreciates, money transfer recipients in the Philippines benefit by getting more pesos for every dollar sent to them.
Why is the peso weakening against the dollar? There are several factors, including the uncertainty about the speed and the duration of the U.S. Federal Reserve narrowing its stimulus program. But there is something that is certain: right now is a really good time to send money back home to the Philippines because it’s favorable financially for both the sender and the recipient ($1.00 U.S. = 45 PHP).
“I encourage our kababayans to send money now while the exchange rates are favorable to them,” said Pia Guter, Xoom’s Director of Marketing for the Philippines. “It’s fast and convenient to send with Xoom.com and you can send up to $2,999 for only $4.99.”
BlueKite team brings expertise in cross-border bill pay, mobile phone top-up payments
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, February 4, 2014 – Xoom Corporation (NASDAQ: XOOM), a leading digital money transfer provider, today announced it has acquired BlueKite, LTD, a cutting edge technology company that develops solutions and applications to improve the way people around the world pay their bills. Xoom acquired BlueKite for approximately $15 million in cash and equity.
BlueKite has built a robust technology platform for cross-border bill payments and mobile phone top ups. This acquisition will allow Xoom to offer adjacent services to their burgeoning money transfer offerings, with the ability to pay bills for their loved ones, as well as top-up mobile phones. By facilitating safe, reliable and accurate cross-border bill payments, Xoom will be able to help its customers take even better care of family members back in their home country. Guatemala City-based BlueKite currently has 30 employees.
“I am very pleased to announce that Xoom has acquired this exciting, young company, BlueKite. By adding these services, Xoom continues to broaden our relationship with our customers, and in so doing, create greater lifetime value and increased loyalty to the Xoom brand,” said John Kunze, President and CEO for Xoom. “We’re excited to build out bill pay and top-up services and enlarge and strengthen the Xoom team with our new development center in Guatemala City. This development center will also augment our San Francisco product and development efforts.”
Bobby Aitkenhead, former CEO of BlueKite, will report to Kunze as vice president in charge of Xoom Bill Pay and Xoom Top Up. ”Xoom’s online and mobile platforms are disrupting traditional forms of money transfer, and we are thrilled to be part of the Xoom team,” said Aitkenhead. “The people, technology, consumer reach, and brand appeal are a perfect fit for our company. We all look forward to a great future together and contributing to Xoom’s mission of offering customers convenient, fast and cost-effective ways to send money.” Initial product services will be announced later this year.
Xoom is a leading digital money transfer provider in 31 countries, focused on helping consumers send money in a secure, fast and cost-effective way using their mobile phone, tablet or computer. During the year ended December 31, 2013, Xoom’s more than one million active customers sent more than $5.5 billion to family and friends. The company is headquartered in San Francisco and can be found online at Xoom.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 relating to, among other things, expectations, plans and prospects for Xoom, including, but not limited to, its expectations regarding its expansion into new markets, ability to improve the way people around the world pay their bills and market demand for bill pay products. These forward-looking statements are based upon the current expectations and beliefs of Xoom’s management as of the date of this press release, and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements made in this press release are based on information available to Xoom as of the date thereof, and Xoom disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
In particular, the following factors, among others, could cause results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements: the evolving nature of the industry in which Xoom operates; its failure to attract new customers or retain existing customers; economic, political or regulatory factors beyond its control, in the U.S. or in countries to which its customers transfer money and pay bills; fluctuations in foreign exchange rates; competitive pricing and marketing strategies by competitors; the adoption of competing technologies that supplant its services; the failure of partners to disburse funds according to Xoom’s instructions; declines in customer confidence in its business or in money transfer providers generally; potential breaches of its security systems; and other risks and uncertainties.
For a detailed discussion of these and other cautionary statements, please refer to the risk factors discussed in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including but not limited to Xoom’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended September 30, 2013, Xoom’s Registration Statement on Form S-1 declared effective on September 10, 2013, and any subsequently filed reports on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K. All documents are available through the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval system (“EDGAR”) at www.sec.gov or Xoom’s website.
Many consumers view customer service as a dinosaur or as too much trouble to try. Remember those golden days when operators really took your call when you needed help? When selecting a money transfer company, you should consider a company that treats you like you really matter.
“Due to Unusually High Call Volume…”
When you call a company for customer service, what do you usually encounter? A maze of automated phone options followed by an interminable hold with lousy Muzak and a message that there is an “unusually high call volume” that repeats … and repeats.
Folks, when you’re sending your precious money to your loved ones back home, you want to get a live human being who answers the phone right away and answers your question to your satisfaction. You can’t recall the last time that happened?
Yes, we are living in an age of depersonalized customer service, where it feels like you, the customer, appear to be the lowest when calling for help. So, how do you determine who provides the best support when you need it the most? Who will answer the phone right away and treat you like you really matter? Well, that’s going to be difficult for you to figure out until you actually pick up the phone and call. Contact Xoom.com at any time to see how we put you first: (877) 815-1531 .
Check Third-party Customer Service Evaluations
But, there are a few independent analyses out there and one can be found in this document on The Market for Money Transfers. On page 10, you will notice a chart whose last column is headed “Client Support.” The criteria evaluated in this answers client’s questions, and offers additional help.” As you look at this chart, you will notice that only eight out of 37 companies evaluated scored a 4 (from a scale of 1-4). So, that might be a good place to start. Since some of those companies may not be operating in the U.S., that will further refine your search.
Which Money Transfer Company Will Work the Hardest for Your Business?
The most important consideration here is that you want a money transfer company that is devoted to its customers, that places top priority in making its customers happy and will do whatever it takes to resolve any issues that arise. In other words – they want you as a customer “for life.”
It starts with the opening welcome call when you sign up and every call that follows. So, if you’re waiting too long on hold for a money transfer company to answer, it’s time to switch to one that puts you and your family first.
At Xoom, we pride ourselves in answering all calls fast and in English, Spanish or Tagalog, 24/7/365.
You’ve settled in a new country and you’ve worked hard to make the most of a better employment opportunity. Perhaps your family is looking to you to help provide much-needed financial assistance and in turn, you are seeking the fastest and safest way to send your hard-earned money back home. Here are two items to consider when choosing a money transfer company.
Does the Money Transfer Company Offer a Money-back Guarantee?
This is a very important item to investigate. Check to confirm that the company you choose offers a money-back guarantee, thereby ensuring the money you send will be received by your recipient or they’ll refund your transaction in full. If you can’t find this information on their website, contact them and make sure it is an official part of their policy. If they don’t do it, don’t use them.
Cancellation & Refund Policies
On occasion, you may have reason to cancel a transaction after you have already sent your remittance. The right money transfer company will give you the option of requesting a cancellation and, ideally, the ability to track the status of that request online. With most money transfer companies, consumers may have up to 30 minutes after payment to cancel a transaction. If they cancel within the 30-minute window, they will get their money back, even if they make a mistake, change their minds or just don’t feel right about the transfer.
Timing is key here. If the money has not yet reached your recipient within the 30 minute window, your money transfer company should do everything in its power to honor your cancellation request and you should be eligible for a refund.
At Xoom, we understand just how important this remittance process is to the well-being of your families. That is why we were the first to adhere to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulations.
Below are 3 tips to help guide you through the process of selecting the right money transfer company, one that is dedicated to earning your trust right from the start and committed to doing everything possible to make you a customer “for life.”
1. Ease of New Account Setup
As a new customer setting up an account should be as easy as providing your name, email address and choosing a secure password. Once you’ve set up your account you should easily be able to send a transaction as well as access all the account features.
2. 24/7 Availability
Any trustworthy money transfer service will offer you the convenience of 24/7 customer service. When sending money globally your money doesn’t sleep and neither should your transfer service.
3. Does the Service Speak Your Language?
This may seem obvious, but is worth mentioning. Given that most money transfer companies are functioning in multiple countries, any prospective company worth using should be able to communicate with you in your preferred language.
At Xoom, our mission is to make the remittance process as quick, easy, safe and economical as possible and when you need our assistance, we are going to go the extra mile to be there for you and take care of you. That’s why we built an approachable remittance service that is available when you need it-in the language you speak.
The money transfer market was once dominated by offline, fragmented, cash-to-cash operators whose services were often expensive, inconvenient and risky for both senders and receivers.
Over the past few years, the remittance industry has evolved to an online model, with computers and mobile devices leading the way. The fact is, when you remove cash from the sending side of the remittance process, you minimize the risk of loss or mishandling of cash on its way to your loved ones.
Simply put, the online approach delivers a more convenient, faster, safer and cost-effective way to send money home. Thus, we encourage you to stick with money transfer companies that employ the most up to date technology available to keep your transactions safe and secure.
Also, make sure your prospective money transfer company offers you the flexibility to pay for remittances by either withdrawing funds directly from your U.S. bank account or via a major credit card. Recipients in your home country should have the option to pick up the money in cash, have the money deposited into their bank account, or if the service is available in that country, have the money delivered to their door.
When Is Money Withdrawn from Your Account?
You might not have thought to ask this question, but it is a key consideration. It actually depends on how you decide to pay, whether it’s account-to-account, by credit card or cash pickup.
Often times, it can be a near-instant service (depending if you qualify); other times it might be a few hours. Depending on the country and type of payment, find a money transfer company that ensures the money you have sent actually reaches your recipient before withdrawing any money from your bank account.
Trusted Bank & Retail Partners
Be sure to find out what banks and retail partners work with a particular money transfer company, especially in the recipient’s country. When you are certain that the money transfer company is conducting business with a trusted partner on the other end, you will have more confidence in your ability to send money securely and that the pickup locations are safe and convenient for your family and friends at home.
People who send money back home come from every income bracket, education level and industry. Some of these “remittance” senders are working lower-paying jobs and struggling to earn enough money to both survive in their adopted country and still have some left over to send to their family. Some are enjoying more prosperous careers away from home while others with an entrepreneurial spirit have started their own businesses.
Regardless of circumstance, all have one thing in common. They are working hard to ensure the best for their families and the last thing they should have to worry about is whether or not their money transfer company is charging fees that are fair. There are a number of variables that can affect fees, including rules and regulations in effect in the recipient’s country, the disbursement currency, speed of service, the type of funding source (bank account, credit or debit card) and the amount sent.
To ensure that you aren’t paying too much in up-front fees, we suggest that you find a money transfer company that offers a low flat rate or fixed fees for how and when you send. Be sure to check their website for rates to your home country – and know what that rate gets you.
As an example of one common scenario, let’s say you are sending $2,500 to Mexico or the Philippines directly from your checking account and your mother is picking up the money in local currency. Try to find a provider that charges a flat fee in the neighborhood of $5 for each transaction. Keep in mind that money sent from debit or credit cards and pickups in anything other than the local currency (such as U.S. dollars) usually results in higher fees, so you need to keep those factors in mind.
Also be sure that any prospective money transfer company can provide perfect clarity on the receiving amount, so there are no surprises after you have sent your money back home. All money transfer companies charge a set fee for a set sending amount, no matter where you live. Be sure to understand what those fees are and how guaranteed exchange rates work.
If you are sending money to a country in Latin America, one report worth checking out for a comparison of average fees charged by well-known money transfer companies in the region is available from the Inter-American Dialogue, pages 11-12.
When people transfer money abroad, those funds are used in a variety of ways, as families have a variety of responsibilities and obligations. But when it comes to people who send money to the Philippines, odds are that it will go toward paying for food and groceries.
According to a recent report from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, approximately 97 percent of the remittances sent by overseas foreign workers were used for food between July and September of this year.
That's not the only way in which the money was used. Of the nearly 500 households surveyed, 75 percent also set some of the money aside for education-related expenses. In addition roughly two-thirds devoted it to medical payments and half toward debts and bills.
Saving was less common among Filipinos in the third quarter, as the report showed that about three in every 10 families saved some of the money so that they could use it on another purchase at a later date. That's down from the previous quarter, when nearly five in every 10 Filipinos saved.
At the same time, though, many Filipinos were interested in making their earning potential grow. About 5 percent of people in the survey said that they invested what they got from an online money transfer, which was about where the level stood when contrasted with the previous three-month period.
There's no shortage of usages for remittances, as evidenced by the purposes Filipinos prioritized this past summer.