Pakistan has the sixth-largest diaspora population in the world after India, Mexico, Russia, China, and Bangladesh. The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development puts the number of overseas Pakistanis at 9 million.
The middle east and the United Kingdom host the largest population of Pakistanis at 4 and 1.5 million in that order. In 2017, Pakistan received $19,665 million in remittances, 70% of which came from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC ) corridor. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Kuwait are the top five source countries in remittances to Pakistan.
With government efforts through the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) and other programs bearing fruit, it helps to know the different ways you can send money to Pakistan, the information required when sending and receiving, the benefits of using money transfer services and the specific things to consider when sending to Pakistan. Read along for a detailed analysis of all this and more!
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There are multiple ways to easily send and receive money in Pakistan but these will largely depend on the provider you decide to use. Below you will find everything you need to know about sending and receiving money.
The Ministry of Finance, State Bank of Pakistan, and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis launched a joint initiative called the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI). This initiative aims to support cheaper and convenient remittance flow to Pakistan.
Much like in many other countries, the banking industry has been a dominant player in the movement of money into the country. However, this is slowly changing with money transfer operators penetrating the remittance channels into Pakistan. The following are some of the formal ways to send money to Pakistan.
The Pakistan banking sector has a total of 35 banks comprising public banks, private banks, and foreign banks. Sending money to Pakistan through bank wire transfers remains one of the safest and most reliable ways. That said, the cost of sending is still high with fees charged by the sender’s bank, correspondent bank(s), and recipient’s bank.
The fees charged by the correspondent banks makes it difficult for the sender to estimate the much the recipient will get. Also, bank wire transfers are impractical for sending small amounts because of the high fees.
For example, sending money from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan costs about $6.45 while sending from the United Kingdom costs $5.30.
There have been concerted efforts by local exchange companies to increase their tie-ups with international money transfer operators. These initiatives have opened floodgates to allow many mobile transfer service providers to join the various Pakistan remittance corridors.
Online money transfers help bridge the gap as far as transaction fees, transfer speed, and convenience are concerned. The type of money transfer service to use largely depends on the country you are sending from, the availability of a reliable agent network in Pakistan, partnerships the transfer service has with the Pakistan banking system and so forth.
Some of the most common online money transfer providers servicing Pakistan remittance corridors include MoneyGram, Western Union, Xpress Money, Telemoney, WorldRemit, Xoom, TransferWise, and Ria.
Most of these money transfer operators only require that you set up an account with them, fund it and transfer to your loved ones. Setting up is very simple, as all you may need is an email address and a few other personal details like phone number and password.
Once you set up the account, you can fund it in several ways including instore cash deposit, bank transfer, and credit or debit card. How to transfer the money largely depends on your preferences. You can send straight from the providers’ websites, use a mobile app, walk to physical stores and send from there, or begin the process online and complete it in a store of your choice.
Online money transfer providers give you several options when sending to Pakistan. The following are the most common:
This method is much slower and may take weeks before the recipient's account is credited. If you are lucky enough to find a subsidiary of the bank that funds the cheque in Pakistan, you can cash it with no hassle.
Some of the foreign banks here include Barclays Bank PLC., Citibank N.A. - Pakistan Operations, Deutsche Bank AG, Dubai Islamic Bank (Pakistan) Limited, Standard Chartered Bank Limited, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited among others.
Sending money to Pakistan is much easier because of government and private sector support. On realising the importance of remittances in the economy, the government has been rolling out initiatives and incentives to encourage the Pakistani diaspora to send money home.
If you want to send money to your loved ones in Pakistan, you will need to have the following information.
However, some providers and source country regulations may require additional information to allow you to send money home.
Pakistanis abroad send home approximately $2 billion per month. Most of it ends up in household expenditures with some left for savings and investment. The following are some of the common reasons for Pakistanis to send money to their loved ones back at home.
A household consumption survey carried out in 2010 and 2011 established that Pakistan remittances are mainly for consumption. Food took the most of the allocation with the rest going to other day-to-day household expenditures.
In a study on The Impact of Remittances on Child Education in Pakistan, children from families that receive remittances are likely to enrol and complete school. Girls from households in rural Pakistan tend to benefit the most.
Pakistanis in the diaspora experience some of the best healthcare systems. Majority of them want to replicate this level of care back home so that their loved ones can also enjoy. Therefore, they send money to enable their families to access quality private health care. Households that couldn’t afford proper healthcare can also access improved healthcare services.
Depending on the nature and size of remittances, households may be instructed to purchase productive and household assets. For instance, the money sent may be used to buy land, houses, livestock and agricultural equipment.
Pakistanis in the diaspora still have economic ambitions back home. Some of them send money to help establish new businesses while others boost the cashflows of existing businesses. In particular, the trade and business objective has received increasing support from the government. Such ventures, lift economic standards and create direct and indirect employment.
Though living in the diaspora, Pakistanis still remain connected to events back home. They send money for weddings, religious festivals and other social events. For instance, in July 2019, many Pakistanis sent home money for the Eid al-Adha celebrations that took place on August 11-12, 2019.
Money transfer services are legal channels for sending money to Pakistan. The government has been encouraging Pakistanis abroad to use banks and money transfer operators when transferring money to their loved ones at home. The following are some of the reasons for and benefits of money transfer services.
It is important that you send money to your loved ones from time to time. This gesture keeps you connected with people at home and also ensures your family and relatives are comfortable. However, before sending consider the following issues:
Though the Pakistan economy is still in the doldrums, there is hope for robust growth and economic prosperity. Remittances play a major role in boosting the economy. However, if you are to send money home, you need to know the various ways of sending and receiving, the documents and information required, the benefits of using money transfer services and the key issues to consider back home.
There are several ways to see to it that your money makes it to Pakistan in under an hour. Some options include Western Union’s fast service, MoneyGram, Xoom, and Ria Money Transfer. Most of these options are quite expensive, so let’s look for the best balance.
If you’re looking for speed, Ria Money Transfer offers your best option. You’ll notice that Ria Money Transfer charges quite a high fee, but if you look closely, they offer among the best exchange rates for Pakistan. When compared with Xoom, the most similar competitive option, Ria Money Transfer ends up being cheaper when hidden conversion costs are considered. Of course, it is also a very fast option, and you can expect your money to reach its destination in Pakistan in a matter of minutes.
If you are sending regular, small amounts of money, the cheapest way to transfer money to Pakistan is through UFX (formerly USForex). They don’t charge any upfront fees and they offer incredibly low currency conversion rates. Unfortunately, this only applies if you are in the US, but you can still expect a great deal from UFX in Europe, Canada, or Australia.
The second option is TransferWise. TransferWise offers the most generically good deal out of all the options. If you are sending funds to Pakistan from the US, you don’t pay hidden currency conversion costs! They charge a flat rate for sending money, so if you are sending anywhere from $500-1000 USD to Pakistan at once, you are definitely getting a better deal with TransferWise.
When it comes to ease of use and convenience, Payoneer often comes out on top. Payoneer is a great and easy option to transfer funds to Pakistan. They offer convenient options such as sending money directly to a debit card, allowing the recipient to immediately withdraw the money. Of course, they also offer options for direct deposits into personal bank accounts.
Keep in mind that when it comes to Payoneer, they are offering you ease of use and convenience in exchange for more of your money. Their upfront fees are very low, but they will devour your money with their hidden currency conversion fees! In some cases, this can add another 2.8% to the total cost of sending money!
As of the time this was written, the exchange rate is 157.1750 Pakistani Rupees (PKR) per American Dollar (USD). The average exchange rate over the last 90 days was 158.6660 PKR per USD. The 90-day high was 163.5001 PKR per USD, while the 90-day low was 155.5094 PKR per USD.
The volatility of the Pakistani Rupee was 0.38% against the American Dollar over the last 90 days. You can reasonably expect these mild fluctuations to remain consistent going forward, barring unforeseen circumstances.
The overall best way to transfer funds to Pakistan is through TransferWise. While they don’t offer the fastest or most convenient service, they perform reasonably on these fronts. However, they also happen to be the cheapest option in the majority of cases, so in the end, there is very little to complain about. TransferWise offers a great deal for sending money to Pakistan as well as to other places including China and India.