Industry News

Lenders eye international revenue as immigration debate continues

Remittances: Big business, big politics

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Business collides with politics as lenders strive to grab more international remittance revenue just as lawmakers grapple with how to stop illegal immigration. The 33 million immigrants in the United States represent at once an opportunity and a problem, as fully one-third are "illegal" or "undocumented." Yet, all represent a nearly untapped market for financial institutions here. Estimates peg the piece of remittance business now going through U.S. banks at a measly 3 percent. The clear leader is Western Union with a 20 percent share. "We used to talk about the future, but this purchasing power is here today," declared Daniel Ayala, senior vice president - group head, Wells Fargo Global Remittance Services, himself a South American émigré. "There is a huge opportunity to reach a market that historically has not been tapped," said Ayala, noting that the foreign-born population in the United States is largely in its "prime-buying years" (homes, cars, tuition, building famili...