(CMR) Money transfer services across Cayman remain closed, following a March 24 order which forced all non-essential businesses shut, in light of the latest coronavirus, COVID-19.
With all major entities, including, but not limited to, Jamaica National (JN) Money, MoneyGram and Western Union closed, the move has seriously impacted those in diaspora communities who are struggling to generate income and find ways to send money back home.
According to Leighton Williams, a representative from JN Money, they had been advised that money service operations were not deemed essential services and, therefore, would require a special exemption to remain open.
Williams said that JN Money has since sought permission to operate but had not yet heard back from the authorities.
“We have sought permission to operate, however, the government is yet to approve our request. A detailed plan to control crowding was also included in our submission,” said Williams.
While CMR was not successful in reaching a MoneyGram representative, Western Union directed us to a release issued by the company on March 6.
The remittance company, acknowledged that while some of its locations may be closed, or have new hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, customers were being encouraged to use the Western Union app.
“Western Union is committed to closely monitoring COVID-19 (coronavirus) developments and is doing everything possible to support our customers in impacted areas,” Western Union said in a release.
“The Western Union app is always available, and the easiest way for you to send money to friends and family. We encourage you to send money via the Western Union app,” added the remittance giant.
The World Bank estimates that in 2019, a total of $75 billion was sent in remittance to the Latin America and Caribbean region, which is expected to suffer a massive blow this year due to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on jurisdictions overseas.
It is projected that the fallout from the pandemic, will see a falloff in remittances to the region of between 7% and 18%.
Signs of a downward trajectory have begun to emerge in Jamaica, with local money transfer services reporting declines in inflows.
However, Asia is expected to be the area most impacted by the falloff in money transfer services. Asia is the region that is the top recipient of remittances in the world; with the Philippines listed in the top five of recipients of remittances.