Sending Financial Assistance or Obligations
The facilitation of sending financial assistance or obligations, particularly remittances, is another way in which ICTs play an important role in the lives of Asian migrant women.10 This facilitation is made possible through various means. It can be through the banks via international wire transfer that can be done online, through an ATM machine, or in the bank branch. Others do it through big retailers or the post office that offer services for sending money overseas. Many do it through financial service companies like Western Union that has more than 400,000 branches in 200 countries.11 The rest do it through small neighborhood shops that facilitate similar electronic transactions. Remittances are important to point out here as they are lifeblood for migrant women’s families, and small communities, including their countries’ economies.12
Interestingly, ICTs also play a critical role in the lives of migrant women in relation to reverse remittances. At the height of the 2008 global financial crisis, for example, there have been anecdotal media reports of migrants, especially in the United States, dipping into their savings and assets back home and relying on their families in their homeland for financial help. Some migrants liquidated assets and remitted the proceeds overseas.13 Migrants’ immense need for intermediary financial services is such that it has fueled the evolution of services offered by non-bank money remittance companies. I-Remit, Inc.,14 a publicly listed Filipino company, for example, initially offered traditional remittance channels, namely direct credit-to-bank-account, branch pick-up, and direct pay-to-biller. Today, it has its own VISA- powered debit card issued to beneficiaries whose cards were linked to their remitters abroad.