Remittances, or the money sent home by migrants working abroad, are the hidden engine of global connectivity. They generate crucial positive economic and social effects that support developing economies — from raising living standards and the GDPs of recipient countries to increasing the levels of investment and savings in those nations. Remittances also provided a crucial lifeline of support in 2020, primarily for middle- and low-income countries. According to the latest data from the World Bank, remittances held steady last year, disproving earlier forecasts. With a flow of $540 billion, they outstripped foreign direct investment and overseas development aid — combined. Additionally, in a year where much of daily life moved to the digital sphere, technology made it easier for migrants to transfer money to their families and opened new avenues for more immediate support.
At this event, Hikmet Ersek, president and chief executive officer of Western Union, explored recent trends on remittances, their importance as a development force, relevant technological improvements and how they could level the world’s economic playing field. Ersek also previewed the top-line results of the latest Oxford Economics report, commissioned by Western Union — “Remittance Effect: Regional Perspective.” The report offers in-depth analysis of how individuals across the world play a role in bolstering regional economies. It also takes a deep dive into global remittance interdependencies, with a spotlight on top senders such as the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, and top receivers such as India, China, Mexico and the Philippines.
11:00 a.m. — Presentation
11:30 a.m. — Q&A
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Hikmet Ersek is president and chief executive officer of The Western Union Company, a Fortune 500 global leader in digital and retail cross-border money transfer and payments services. With more than 30 years of executive experience in financial services, Ersek joined Western Union in 1999 and became CEO in 2010. Under his leadership, Western Union has successfully diversified and evolved its business to become a global payments company. Significant accomplishments include growing the company’s digital and mobile offerings; expanding the company’s portfolio into the B2B payments sector; growing its retail money transfer business; implementing a new technology platform; and significantly upgrading the company’s global compliance programs. As a citizen of Austria and Turkey, Ersek draws on his international background to speak out publicly for the rights of migrants and refugees worldwide. He has been publicly recognized for his commitment to community and corporate responsibility, including as Corporate Responsibility (CR) Magazine’s Responsible CEO of the Year. Ersek is frequently quoted by major global media outlets on business and societal topics such as migration, digital payments, and global business transformation. He holds a Master's (Magister) degree in Economics and Business Administration from the Wirtschaftsuniversität (University of Economics) in Vienna, Austria.
Tony Payan, Ph.D.
Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies; Director, Center for the United States and Mexico, Baker Institute