Fast Cash

Dec 14, 2007 (LBO) – Western Union has rapidly expanded its money transfer network in Sri Lanka through its tie up with Aitken Spence and is eyeing a bigger share of the three billion dollar foreign remittance market. Company officials said they also want to tap the estimated two billion dollars sent to the island through illegal methods to provide Sri Lankan migrant workers a safe, reliable and quick means to send cash home.

“Aitken Spence invested in the remittance business one year ago in a 50:50 joint venture with Mercantile Merchant Bank Ltd (MMBL) because it is a growing business worldwide and in Sri Lanka,” Dinesh Mendis, Managing Director of MMBL Money Transfer told a news conference Thursday.

“In line with the government policy of empowering rural people we started developing our network in rural areas while aggressively increasing our urban network.”

The company now has 1,000 outlets islandwide, with the exception of the north-central Wanni region that is under Tamil Tiger control.

Migrant workers sent back 2.3 billion dollars in 2006 and officials expect remittances to rise to three billion dollars this year and four billion in 2008.

“We’re better than tea, rubber and coconut altog