JEDDAH - The excruciating days of standing in long queue that most of the more than 7 million expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia experience whenever they send remittances to their love ones would soon be a thing of the past with the introduction of “a very convenient money transfer system”, thanks to the partnership between the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia and MoneyGram International, the second largest and fastest growing global remittance service.
At the launch of MoneyGram-Quickpay money transfer service on Tuesday at the NCB headquarters in Jeddah, company officials said “unlike all other remittance services currently operating in Saudi Arabia, the MoneyGram-Quickpay money transfer can be done entirely without standing in a queue after the one-time registration in any 8 of the NCB Quickpay centers strategically located Kingdom-wide, in which a remitter will be issued a Quickpay ATM card that would be used at any one of 1,400 NCB ATMs across the Kingdom for remittance purposes.
Though other banks in the Kingdom have already existing services quite similar to what is introduced by NCB-MoneyGram, Quickpay offers “the most convenient remittance service” in the Kingdom.
The most salient aspect of the service is its 24 hours service for the whole week.
“The 24/7 feature of Quickpay allows our customers freedom to choose the location and time most convenient to him or her in remitting cash to the beneficiaries,” Omar M. Hashem, senior VP, Electronic Transactions, NCB said.
Within 10 minutes after the transaction and the remitter sending the remittance reference number to the beneficiaries, the cash is ready for pick up hassle-free at the nearest correspondent bank or affiliate agent.
According to the officials at the presentation made before the media, the Quickpay account is designed to be easily understood by the remitter.
Quickpay-MoneyGram staff will be on hand at Quickpay outlets Kingdom-wide, and will assist prospective users of the new service in a variety of expat languages when they perform the all-important initial registration. This is the only time that a client has to come into an actual center - all other transactions will be performed via NCB ATMs, by telephone (simply dial 9200 00330) or online.
They may load their card with cash (without the necessity of having an NCB account) at any Quickpay registration center or deposit actual cash at over 700 cash deposit machines.
Remittance is then simply a matter of pushing the button. At the time of registration, staff will always be available to explain the workings of the machines to anyone who is unfamiliar, or unsure, of how to operate the super-convenient service.
The Kingdom is home to well over seven million expatriates and remittances to beneficiaries abroad grew to more than $17 billion by the end of 2006, World Bank said. In addition to the fact that nearly 27 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population is foreign-born, the demand for money transfer services is also driven by the growing number of Saudis studying, traveling and working outside the Kingdom.
Hashem hailed the alliance with MoneyGram as a significant new extension of NCB’s flourishing Quickpay remittance service: “Together with MoneyGram, we can now claim to offer our customers simply the best way to send their money to loved ones back home, using the largest money transfer network in Saudi Arabia. We have removed the inconvenience of standing in line during office hours and offer expatriate clients a service which is secure and quick; but above all flexible and tailored to their needs.”
Anthony Ryan, president and CEO of MoneyGram International, headed the senior management delegation which came to Jeddah, from New York, London, Paris and Dubai. He highlighted the importance of the MoneyGram-NCB agreement.
“Saudi Arabia is the second largest send market in the world, and our alliance with a premier financial institution like the National Commercial Bank represents a significant opportunity for MoneyGram’s expansion plans in the Middle East. MoneyGram has made a substantial investment in the Kingdom and is committed to a long-term association with both our customers and our esteemed Saudi associates.” Other attendees from MoneyGram International were John Hempsey, CEO of MoneyGram International Limited; Richard Meredith, regional director for the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Ananth Srivatsa, regional marketing manager, from Dubai.
Ryan said “we are fortunate to be able to ally ourselves with the Kingdom’s leading bank in this dynamic and mutually beneficial venture. The ultimate winners in this scenario are the expatriate users, who have never before experienced such flexibility in sending money to their loved ones back home. Speed and security of transmission are standard to the industry, but now for the first time, clients can successfully fulfill their remittance requirements at their own convenience. Money is deposited at Quickpay and then received within 10 minutes at any one of our 180,000 MoneyGram locations, worldwide. The new service will be available in Saudi Arabia all day and every day.”
According to NCB officials, the Quickpay service is just the initial phase of the NCB-MOneyGram joint venture. The door-to-door remittance service and the bank-to-bank service, which are already being offered by the two financial companies independently, would be further enhanced in the future to deliver the best remittance service with utmost convenience.
Amid the growing number of players in the remittance service, at the end of the day, it is the remitter who would finally decide which one is the best, after all.