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Foreign workers in Taiwan may soon be able to send remittances via convenience stores

Taiwan government experimenting with allowing foreign workers to send remittances through convenience stores

7-Eleven in Taiwan. (Photo by flickr user David)

7-Eleven in Taiwan. (Photo by flickr user David)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) is exploring the possibility of allowing foreign workers to remit their earnings to their home countries through convenience stores, reported CNA.

At the 2018 Annual Conference on Financial Information Systems, FSC Chairman Wellington Koo (顧立雄) told the media today that the Financial Technology Innovation and Experiment Act, which is better known as the Financial Regulatory Sandbox, could be used to test out the use of convenience stores by migrant workers to send remittances to their hometowns. The sandbox was created on April 30 as a way for financial institutions and financial technology ventures to test new financial products and services, while not worrying about possible regulatory issues.

Koo said that in the past, migrant workers used U.S.-based Western Union Quick Cash to remit money to their hometowns. However, as the regulations on money laundering have become more and more strict, doubts have started to arise about its security.

Yet if the foreign exchange remittances are limited to foreign workers, the risk may be lower than unlimited cross-border exchanges. Therefore, the FSC intends to conduct a sandbox experiment to discuss feasible solutions.

Koo said that because foreign workers have fewer holidays and banks are often closed during their days off, most of them make "package-style" remittances through intermediary companies. Through the establishment of "micro-remittance" services, foreign workers will be able send their own remittances in small amounts through convenience stores, which will help to improve their self-sufficiency, said Koo.

Koo explained that there will be three criteria to determine the viability of the new sandbox: First, is its "singularity" and that the overseas remittances are limited to foreign workers only. Second, that they are fixed or regular remittances, and the recipient's identity is clear (such as a member of the remitter's family). Third, that it enhances the labor autonomy of migrant workers.

Western Union Quick Cash is a real-time online remittance service operated through the cooperation of Western Union Corporation with other banks all over the world. As long as the remitter goes to a bank that cooperates with Western Union, they can send the remittance to recipients overseas within one day to any overseas bank within Western Union's network.

The main advantages of Western Union Quick Cash is that it is quick and convenient, and there is no need to open a bank account. However, due to the need to use English to fill out the remittance form, differences in alphabetical spelling can be exploited in money laundering or theft.

As a result, many Taiwanese banks have stopped offering Western Union remittance services. Koo said that enabling foreign workers to remit funds via convenience stores instead could be a good alternative.