Arab countries agree to UN-backed electronic money transfer services

1 August 2008 – Eight Arab countries have signed an agreement to start electronic money transfer services using technology that has been developed by the United Nations postal agency with the aim of helping rural populations and migrant workers have access to better services.

Postal operators in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen will now be able to exchange money orders on a multilateral basis, according to a press statement released today by the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

Other Arab countries have indicated they hope to join the arrangement by the end of the year.

The agreement was reached this week in Geneva, where the Swiss-based UPU has been holding the 24th Universal Postal Congress, and follows a similar deal between Chile, Spain and Uruguay that was struck at the meeting on Monday.

UPU said a parallel project is expected to be set up among the countries of North-Eastern Africa next week, drawing on the UPU’s so-called IFS application and the international financial network.

The postal agency has been trying to improve access for rural populations, and especially migrant workers, to secure and reliable money transfer services through formal channels – rather than the traditional informal methods.

This is particularly valuable in countries such as the UAE, where more than 80 per cent of the population are foreigners, and millions of dollars are sent to home countries through remittances.

The project has been launched by the Arab League, supported by French Post and implemented by a regional steering committee chaired by Emirates Post.


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