Almost 60% of consumers in Saudi Arabia choose only digital money transfer platforms and emphasize the importance of having alternative options available

47% of money transfer consumers see digital services as the future of cross-border money transfers, compared to many who want to provide a variety of options between online and in-person experiences.

Consumers expect to send or receive more money in the next 12 months as senders struggle with rising living costs.

The reasons and priorities for cross-border remittances differ between women and men.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – A survey conducted by Western Union shows that the majority of its customers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia consider digital money transfers to be the preferred method of sending money now and in the future. On the other hand, many of them still want to be able to choose between electronic judgment and personal money transfer at authorized centers, according to their needs. Exclusive data shows that almost 60% of consumers sending money abroad prefer digital money transfer services, while 22% would like to have a choice and 17% would prefer to send money only through retail centres.

The study, which included more than 1,500 citizens and residents of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who send and receive money, examined the reasons, how and when to transfer money abroad. The results support Western Union’s recently announced Evolve 2025 (E25) strategy, which combines digital financial services with affordable, high-value retail center services. The research is also in line with data from Western Union which showed that customers prefer to transfer money digitally. In the first three quarters of 2022, the company witnessed a growth of more than 10% year-on-year in the volume of digital transactions from Saudi Arabia.

The difference in opinion emerged when consumers were asked about the form of international money transfer they want in the future. Many of them (47%) still believe that the transfer experience should be completely digital, while 44% prefer the option of both digital and in-person transfers, and 9% still choose to transfer money only in cash. In contrast, 57% of consumers who receive remittances would prefer to have a choice, while 24% would prefer a fully digital transfer. And 19% still want to receive only cash.

In this context, Jean-Claude Farah, president of the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region at Western Union, said: “Since Saudi Arabia launched the ambitious National Transformation Program – Vision 2030, the Kingdom has made great progress in the field of digital transformation. Wise leadership has been keen to develop the necessary infrastructure to support this development, thus making the Kingdom seventh in terms of digital competitiveness among G20 countries, with an internet penetration rate of 98%. The results of the study show that citizens and residents formed an important part of this march as they prefer digital options over personal experiences and benefit from the advanced digital framework in the Kingdom.

Customers who receive remittances greatly influence the frequency of remittances and the flow of funds.

The research also showed that transfer recipients greatly influence the frequency of transfers. On the other hand, 34% of money senders stated that the financial situation of their family or loved ones determines the frequency and flow of money transfers. Also, 68% said that recipients of transfers influence the choice of company through which senders transfer money, and 74% said that the transfer method they choose (digital channels, retail centers or both) is related to how the recipient receives the money. .

Looking at the broader economic climate, more consumers (74%) expect to send or receive (66%) more money in the next 12 months. 73% of study participants said they have to transfer more money because of the high cost of living in their country. Also, 67% said that the high cost of living in their current country prevents them from transferring money as much as they used to.

Farah continued: “Providing an essential connection between sender and recipient helps consumers achieve financial stability and take advantage of opportunities. As we adjust to rising costs of living, supporting consumers in difficult economic conditions becomes even more important. This is where the public and private sectors must play a joint role , because through our effective cooperation we will be able to provide them with better financial opportunities and expertise that will help them improve the management of their financial conditions.”

The reasons and priorities for cross-border remittances differ between women and men.

The study also found that more women in Saudi Arabia send money more than once a month than men, with nearly a quarter of women surveyed (versus 21% of men) saying they send money several times a month.

Support for families is the main reason for men’s remittances (55%). Although this is also of utmost importance to many women (42%), they also focus on reasons such as paying financial obligations, future savings and school fees.

Farah concluded: “Globally, women make up just under half of the expatriate workforce, and are empowered more than ever before as they move abroad and contribute to shaping global economies. In line with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is focused on attracting the best local and international talent to drive economic development and aims to increase the participation of women in the workforce to 30% by 2030, which is crucial to ensure wider access to financial services, especially with the emergence of new technologies.”

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