Advantage for NRIs

The Reserve Bank on Wednesday said Indians who have non-resident accounts in the country can now hold them in any currency which is fully convertible.

The move is likely to help NRIs/Persons of India Origin as it will give them more options in the holding of accounts, and lessen the risk from fluctuations in major currencies.

Earlier, FCNR(B) account holders were allowed to hold accounts in only certain currencies such as the Pound Sterling, US dollar, Japanese yen, euro, Canadian dollar and Australian dollar.

“…it has been decided that Authorised Dealer banks in India may be permitted to accept Foreign Currency (Non-Resident) Account (Banks) deposits in any permitted currency.

It may be noted that ‘Permitted currency’ for this purpose would mean a foreign currency which is freely convertible,” RBI said in a notification.“The Committee to Review the Facilities for Individuals under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 in its Report has recommended that FCNR(B) accounts may be permitted to be opened in any freely convertible currency,” RBI said.

RBI also said that any citizen who was earlier residing in a foreign country can own or transfer property or other assets in that nation if it was acquired during the time of his residence there.

“… a person resident in India is free to hold, own, transfer or invest in foreign currency, foreign security or any immovable property situated outside India if such currency, security or property was acquired, held or owned by such person when he was resident outside India or inherited from a person who was resident outside India,” RBI said.In a clarification issued by it regarding repatriation of income and sale proceeds of assets held abroad by NRIs who have returned to India permanently, RBI said an investor can retain and reinvest the income earned on investments made under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme.The bank said that clarifications are as per relevant sections of the Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999.

Source: The Hindu

Remit2India’s FXvoucher ‘the power to get EXTRA’ is back

Currency fluctuationshave been one of the prime concerns for NRIs when they look at sending money home. If one looks at the trend of the US$ in the past few months, it has been extremely volatile. From INR 44.5 in Feb’11 to touching highs of INR 49.3 a few days back against 1 US$, the fluctuations impact a NRI. This is true for most currencies and markets around the world. Compare that with the increasing inflation that has gone up from 1.5% – Feb’11 to 3.75% – Sept’11 in the US. The Inflation in India has also peaked to 8.43% in recent time thereby increasing the cost of living. NRIs who remit money to their family back home need to shell out extra, which becomes an expensive affair.The volatile nature of these currencies coupled with increasing inflation makes a NRI anxious to maximize his remittance.
At Remit2India, we understand this concern and to aid it, we have launched the FXvoucher– an assured way to earn EXTRA money. It helps a NRI gain 3 times as much back of the initial investment he makes. This festive season we re-introduce the FXvoucher with improved features and hope our NRI customers make the most of it.

Click here to purchase the FXvoucher

Surge in remittance as rupee hits 2-year low

With the Indian rupee continuing to decline against a dollar-pegged dirham, money transfer companies in the UAE recorded brisk business, with remittance volume surging by 20 pc over the past two weeks. On Wednesday, the rupee ended weaker after dropping to its lowest level in over two years as investors reduced their exposure to risk ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting, where it is expected to unveil steps to revive a flagging US economy.

The partially convertible rupee ended at 13.6 per dirham or 48.325/335 per dollar, 0.58 per cent weaker than Tuesday’s close of 48.05/06 and after touching 48.34 intraday — its weakest since September16, 2009. The rupee has declined almost 10 per cent since it recent peak on July 27 when it was trading at 44 per dollar.

On Wednesday, the rupee opened stronger at 47.99 per dollar and rose to 47.8375 driven primarily on expectation of robust dollar inflows, traders said.

A flagging euro and choppy domestic equities, which slipped 0.2 per cent in volatile trade, added to the rupee’s woes, and market analysts predict that if the eurozone financial issue persists, the Indian currency will cross the two-year low of 48.47 per dollar and head further south to hit 50 per dollar.

In 2010, remittances by the UAE-based migrant workers grew 11 per cent to $10.54 billion from $9.51 billion in 2009. Total expatriate workers’ remittances from the GCC rose to $63.75 billion in 2010 from $60.03 billion in the previous year, according the World Bank, reached $325 billion from $317.23 billion in 2009.

The International Monetary Fund predicted that outward remittances from the GCC, which has over 12 million expatriates, are estimated to reach $74.9 billion in 2011. India, the largest recipient country, in terms of both global and GCC remittances, accounts for roughly 50 per cent of money transferred from the Gulf, estimated to be between $25 and $30 billion in 2010.

Source: GulfNews

Remit2India celebrates NRI Family Day

Remit2India, as part of its endeavour to build a bond with the families of NRIs, recently celebrated another chapter of its ‘Remit2India – NRI Family Day’ in Bengaluru. Known for being the pioneer in offering an online money transfer service for NRIs, the Remit2India – NRI Family Day was created as an occasion to celebrate & bond with the families who have their loved ones across the globe. Touted as an evening full of fun & entertainment, the event lived up to the hype with over 300 families in attendance. Held at the Palace Grounds in Bengaluru, it included live performances by Indian Idol star Rehan Khan as well as Bollywood actress Smiley Suri.

Also part of the evening celebrations was a range of activities from free health check-ups, tattoo artists, Tarot card readers, live international video chats etc. The icing on the cake was an elaborate spread of delicacies to suit the different tastes of the family members.

Speaking at the event, Avijit Nanda, President – TimesofMoney said “Every one of us miss not having our loved ones around. The Remit2India NRI Family Day is our way of trying to bridge the physical distance between the NRI & his family in India. We are overwhelmed with the response & really delighted to see the families having such a wonderful time”

The event would be extended to other cities. Key partners for the Bengaluru event include Clarks Exotica, Life Insurance Corporation, Mallya Hospital, Volkswagen, Chromozome Network, Jet Airways & Times Card.

Inheritance of agricultural land by NRIs

Indian Laws governing the investment opportunities by NRIs are governed by Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA), according to which NRIs and PIOs in India (non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin) are prohibited from buying agricultural land in India. Under the general permission granted by Reserve Bank of India, properties other than agricultural land, farm house and plantation property can be acquired by foreign citizen of Indian Origin provided the purchase consideration is met either out of inward remittance in foreign exchange through normal banking channels or out of funds from the purchaser’s NRE (Non Resident External Rupee Account) or FCNR ( Foreign Currency Account) accounts maintained with Indian banks. The reason relating to the prohibition clause, about agricultural land is mainly to protect farmers from foreign conglomerates looking to buying up agricultural land.

Indian NRIs cannot buy agricultural land in India and this is applicable to the whole of India. Approval is required from the Reserve bank of India which one can assume is not easily available and this would depend only on individual circumstances. In addition to that, some State Governments in India have rules that allow only farmers to buy agricultural land in their State and this restricts even Indian citizens from buying agricultural land unless they come from a family of farmers. Therefore, one cannot complain that due to the above prohibition, NRI investment options have been mitigated. On the other hand, NRIs who have acquired foreign citizenship, are sometimes mislead into believing that they cannot continue to hold agricultural land as foreigners cannot hold agricultural land in India. But this is not all encompassing, because Indian NRI’s can continue to hold agricultural land or any other property they own in India provided they had acquired them legally before accepting foreign citizenship. NRIs and Foreign Citizens of Indian Origin cannot acquire agricultural land, even by way of gift. However they can acquire agricultural land by way of inheritance and an agricultural property or land thus acquired can only be sold to a resident in India and not to an NRI.

Just like every cloud has a silver lining, therefore, even if it seems like there are a lot of obstacles involved in the process of inheriting an agricultural land as an NRI, but eventually, the initiative generates one of the biggest advantages eliminating the hurdle of paying any inheritance tax for NRIs. Also, NRIs can sell the inherited agricultural land to a resident Indian, but they will have to pay capital gains tax on the sale proceeds. Once the tax is paid the remaining sale proceeds can be remitted abroad which again should not exceed 1 million USD in any financial year. Therefore, these are a few attributes an NRI must keep in mind while deciding on investment strategies to the best of their suitability. Therefore, the conclusion lies in the fact that, inheritance of agricultural land is not covered by the ban on NRIs, but in fact it is an exception to the rule.


RBI panel for hassle-free remittance, investment

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-appointed panel suggested significant liberalisation of forex regulation to allow hassle-free remittances and overseas investments. “To enable hassle-free remittances by resident individuals, banks may be advised by the RBI not to insist on the submission of form 15 CA/15 CB for any remittances under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS),” the report of the panel headed by former RBI Deputy Governor KJ Udeshi said.

The report of the Committee to Review the Facilities for Individuals under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 said over a period of time, the FEMA rules now contain contradictory provisions and there is also a need to make definitions uniform and consistent across FEMA.

The committee is of the considered view that the procedural ‘knots’ in the system need to be untied to enable the present forex liberalisation to be effective and in the absence of untying of these knots, any further forex liberalisation will not be meaningful.

The report also noted that instead of an erstwhile single regulator (the RBI), we now have a multitude of regulators, each interpreting FEMA in his own way.
General permission, it said, may be granted to resident individuals to acquire shares of a foreign company in part or full consideration of professional services rendered to the foreign company or in lieu of Director’s remuneration.
Besides, it suggested, general permission may be granted to resident individuals to acquire qualification shares of an overseas company for holding the post of a director without the existing limitations.

It is to be noted that the committee was set up, following the announcement in Annual Monetary Policy for 2011-12 in May. “Recognising the need for facilitating genuine foreign exchange transactions by individuals – Residents/Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) – under the current regulatory framework of FEMA, Reserve Bank has constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of KJ Udeshi,” RBI Governor D Subbarao had said in the Annual Monetary Policy for 2011-12.

The objective of the review was to identify areas for streamlining and simplifying the procedure so as to remove the operational impediments and assess the level of efficiency in the functioning of authorised persons, including the infrastructure created by them.

Among other recommendations, Indian resident employees or directors may be permitted to accept shares offered through an ESOP Scheme globally.
It also suggested that the Portfolio Investment Scheme needs to be reviewed in its entirety and there is no need for continuation of the existing scheme.

Source:-Business Standard

Remit2India adopts innovative ways to connect with its NRI audience

Participates in community associations & events to increase brand presence and engage its audience

Believing in the philosophy of engaging with its customers Remit2India, pioneer in online money transfers, has adopted a novel way of reaching out to the Indian disapora by partnering with Indian communities such as the ‘Bruhan Maharashtra Mandal of North America’ (BMM), ‘Telugu Association of North America’ (TANA) and participating in their annual events in US. Associating with these communities provided the opportunity to interact with NRIs who send money back home.

The BMM and TANA events were held in Chicago and California respectively where a sizable NRI population resides, thereby providing the perfect platform for services such as Remit2India to interact with potential customers. Both events attracted thousands of locals who turned out in large strengths at the venues that showcased their cultural and Indian roots.

Remit2India’s booth at these events gave the audience a flavour of the ease and convenience of its services that NRIs could benefit from when sending money to their home country. This on-ground activity was targeted at effectively connecting, interacting and engaging with the NRI community. Several product demos were conducted and promotion brand collaterals were given out to excite the customers. Commenting on this initiative, Avijit Nanda, President of TimesofMoney said, “We have traditionally followed extensive online marketing activities, but over the last couple of months, we have adopted a more focused approach that allows us to interact with our consumers directly and educate them on transferring money in a safe and secure manner online. Remit2India has always been innovative in interacting with its audience and sharing relevant product information. For these events, we aided our representatives with iPads that allowed us to provide a real time service demo along with a chance for customer to signup for FREE on the spot. The feedback has been very promising and we hope to continue reaching out to our audience in an innovative manner”.

Remittance and reform

Healthy remittance income that has undoubtedly averted in many ways a devastating financial crisis in the country is also providing a toxic cushion for politicians to brush aside much-needed policy reforms for boosting Nepal’s shrinking productivity and competitiveness, a World Bank study released on Tuesday has argued. This may sound odd, but there are many convincing points here. It is undeniable that remittance is the major contributor to the healthy foreign currency reserves that Nepal has long enjoyed and that has enabled it to withstand the immediate impact of a worsening balance of payments deficit.

Remittance-fed reserves have also helped the government settle its international payments obligations, such as extending import financing and repaying external debt, without much headache or effort. More than that, remittances, which currently contribute roughly one-fourth of the GDP, have greatly helped to keep consumption afloat even when the economic growth rate was flat and unemployment was rising.

It is indisputable reality that had there been no remittance inflow at the level the country now enjoys, Nepal’s foreign currency situation would have plunged into serious trouble a long time back. Under that scenario, it would have compelled the government to take urgent reform measures aimed at curbing foreign currency outflow, such as checking imports and boosting exports, through the removal of barriers that crop up in the development of the manufacturing sector. The huge reserves buildup via remittances has given ground for the government to overlook very essential reforms for tackling problems such as rigid labor laws, labor militancy and dwindling investments that have added to manufacturing sector woes.

In addition, the World Bank study has also brought out a mind-blowing ‘vicious policy circle’ of healthy remittance helping the state distance itself from economic reforms which in turn is inducing low growth, low job creation, and ultimately fueling more migration. The study also warns that the toxic combination of high remittance inflow and lack of policy reform has exposed Nepal to the risk of Dutch Disease, an unnatural growth of a certain sector that appreciates the currency and hurts manufacturing and exports. The study has rightly reckoned that remittance-fueled demand and subsequent price rises are ultimately raising the cost of exportable items, thereby leading to loss of competitiveness.

We believe that the gentle but powerful recommendation of the study that the government make migration an option rather than a necessity for survival, needs to be well taken. We have heard many good things about what remittance has done but it’s high time we made an in-depth assessment of the possible negative social and economic consequences that it might bring in the long run.

Source: MyRepublica

The Online Success Story

India’s growth rate is escalating and is on an indefinite rise. Although there are stark disparities, this is an indisputable fact. Also more people today are going abroad for jobs and other motivations. With increasing number of NRIs over the years who invest in the growing Indian market, consumer behavior has evolved. 

In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Avijit Nanda, President of TimesofMoney dwells about this space and gives an insightful understanding.

Nanda said, “Consumer behavior has shifted from merely using a remittance channel for family maintenance needs to a wider spectrum such as gifting, real estate investments, etc. TimesofMoney is a digital payment service provider that started in India and today serves a varied clientele in India and abroad. “ 

It offers NRIs services such as online remittances, gifting, and property services. In the domestic market it offers e-payments and co-branded cards. Incorporated in 2001, TimesofMoney commenced operations with its brand Remit2India, the online money transfer service for NRIs from the U.S. It further launched the first ACH (Automated Clearing House) based direct debit remittance service in the U.S. Furthermore in 2003, TimesofMoney extended services to NRIs in UK, Europe & Australia. Today Remit2India allows NRIs from 23 countries to send money to India. Over the years it has created a mark for itself both with customers as well as the industry by introducing features like direct debits, SMS alerts, transaction insurance, 24×7 support, etc. 

Nanda further added, “In September 2003, TimesofMoney expanded the scope of its operations by creating a white-label remittance engine for other banks and exchange houses to use. This enabled TimesofMoney to offer their technology, operations and service platform to its partners. This move has enabled TimesofMoney to contribute extensively to the field of remittances by empowering other players to extend their remittance service offerings. Key bank partners are Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, Citi Bank, Yes Bank, Etc.” 

During the last few years TimesofMoney has diversified into global remittances services with, its global online money transfer service. Along with home based products like DirecPay, that acts as a one-stop payment gateway solution that accepts payments from over 72 payment options including credit cards, debit cards, net banking transfers using the Internet, Mobile Phone or an IVR. TimesofMoney also operates co-branded card service ‘Times Cards’ which is in partnership with Barclays, It’s an infotainment card that provides discounts and offers across restaurants, movies theatre, apparel stores and others. 

Commenting on the marketing initiatives, Nanda said, “We have traditionally followed extensive marketing activities online. A well-defined and measured matrix is followed to check results of campaigns executed. From modern tools of acquiring to conversion of its in-house managed system to track every movement of the customer life cycle. “ 

TimesofMoney also has an in-house customer services call center that not only takes care of customer queries but also serves as active on call sales force. While the business is online, it has also carried out Above the line (ATL) & Below the line (BTL) activities to reach out to its audience. From television, print, radio campaigns to local area catchment activity to participating in India based community shows, TimesofMoney has always been innovative when it comes to acquiring customers which are spread around the world. “Marking its 10th anniversary this year, it institutionalized an award called ‘Remit2India The Light of India Awards’ to recognize and honor the contribution of the Global Indian community,” he explained further. 

TimesofMoney has brands and offerings like Remit2India – facilitates money transfers to India for Non-Resident Indians from around the world, Window2India – exclusive service for Non-Resident Indians, Remit2Home- global money transfer service provider, Times Card- India’s first entertainment credit card service, DirecPay – unique payment gateway service in the e-commerce space of India.

Nanda then stated, “With a unique challenge of targeting NRIs globally without a physical presence, Remit2India has relied online to reach out to its target audience. With focus approach through carefully learning their behaviors Remit2India has extensively targeted its base through modern modes of search engine optimization (SEO), social media optimization (SMO) and Online advertising through partners and publishers.”

He also added, “However with the NRI community (Remit2India’s target audience) being spread across the world its major challenge has been to optimize its marketing spends and acquisition strategies. Not to mention communicating across continents with a non-personal approach in itself is challenging.” 

Talking of plans going forward, Nanda said, “We would want to reach out to our audiences more selectively, through our PR efforts constantly educate our customer on the benefits of online money transfer, streamline our operations and customer experience on our site. We also have some exciting new product launches and innovations this FY to enhance our service offerings.”

Remit2India’s focus has been to build affinity with its audience, educate the nuances and benefits of online money transfer, participate in industry forums and spread the word

India largest recipient of global and GCC remittances

India is the largest recipient country in terms of both global and GCC remittances, accounting for roughly 50% of money transferred from the Gulf, an exchange company official has said. According to Sudhir Kumar Shetty, the Chief Operating Officer of the UAE Exchange Centre, the sum remitted during 2010 was estimated to be between USD 25-30 billion.Sudhir Kumar Shetty, the Chief Operating Officer of the UAE Exchange Centre, said money remitted by foreign workers in the UAE rose to USD 10.54 billion in 2010 from USD 9.51 billion in 2009, a clear indication that after a protracted downturn and a slump in job market during 2008 and 2009, the country’s economy had returned to a recovery mode.

Shetty said the uptick in the GCC remittance market in comparison to the global figures reflects the resilience of the region in the wake of increased investments in development projects.

“With the exception of construction-related sectors, UAE’s traditional industries, including trade, hospitality and tourism, have shown robust growth to underpin the migrant job market,” he said. Total expatriate workers’ remittances from the GCC rose to USD 63.75 billion in 2010 from USD 60.03 billion in the previous year, up 6.1% compared to an upturn of 2.44% in worldwide remittances that, according the World Bank, reached USD 325 billion from USD 317.23 billion in 2009,” Shetty was quoted by Khaleej Times as saying.

“Global remittance through our exchange grew 8% to USD 5.84 billion in the first four months, while the GCC and the UAE showed growth rates of 7% and two per cent to reach USD 4.1 billion and USD 2.66 billion, respectively, during the same period,” he added.

The UAE Exchange transfers money through a network of 510 branches across 23 countries and accounted for 64% of total worker remittances from the UAE in 2010.

“There has been a steady growth in the volume of remittances through the UAE Exchange from the UAE, the GCC and globally. In 2010, workers from the UAE remitted USD 6.7 billion through our exchange, up 11% from USD 6 billion recorded in 2009,” Shetty said. Total remittances transacted through the UAE Exchange in the GCC rose to USD 11.04 billion from USD 9.4 billion.

According to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011, India continued to be the largest recipient of remittances in 2010, with remittances rising from USD 49.6 billion in 2009 to USD 55 billion in 2010.

Source: The Economic Times

%d bloggers like this: