Cash Pile

December 07, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s NDB Bank Thursday teamed up with global money transfer giant Western Union, to tap the lucrative foreign remittances market, officials said.

Around 1.5 million Sri Lankans working and residing overseas sent home 1,918 million dollars last year, and the island’s Central Bank expects the figure to hit 3.0 billion dollars by 2007.

Nearly 45 percent of funds originate from the Middle East where large populations of Sri Lankans work in the oil rich Gulf States. Italy and the United Kingdom are also popular source of remittances, accounting for about 10-15 percent of the total market.

The remittance market is currently dominated by state run Bank of Ceylon, distantly followed by state-owned People’s Bank and other private banks.

“Worker remittances play an important role by way of developing the economy and enhancing the welfare of the recipients’ family,” Nihal Welikala, NDB Bank’s CEO told reporters.

“We estimate the volume of remittances forms about 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product now,” Western Union’s Country Director for Sri Lanka, Ratheesh Kumar said.

Western Union charges a slight premium