Cape Town – Many foreign nationals who make up a large portion of low-income earners in South Africa are unable to send money home as a result of the lockdown – and their families are suffering.
Andy Jury, group chief executive of Mukuru, a fintech firm that operates a remittance service offering customers the opportunity to send money across Africa, said: “It’s not been a one-size-fits-all impact. It depends on the socio-economic segment they belong to and whether they’re still working, such as those in the essential services, but people who’d normally be sending between R500 to R1 000 are now down to about 50%.
“As with all financial transactions post lockdown, we’ve seen an acute impact on our customers’ ability to send money home.”
Chief executive of SFX Money Transfers, Sean Maloney, said: “Before the lockdown it was estimated that R3 billion was sent out of South Africa every month by Zimbabweans, Malawians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and other foreign nationals.”
Asked how remittances by foreign nationals had been affected during the Covid-19 lockdown, Maloney said: “Typically 80% or more of these transactions are paid for in cash – at major retailers like Pick n Pay, Spar and Shoprite, at around 12000 locations, so with them being largely open there’s still that option.
“The problem has been how to get there, with the lockdown being so strongly enforced. There have also been serious issues such as short time at banks,” he said.
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By Mwangi Githahu