New Orleans ACORN International’s global Remittance Justice Campaign (www.remittancejustice.og) continues to confront new, amazing, and mysterious challenges as ACORN Canada pushes forward in Ottawa and British Columbia.
In a meeting won by actions at the ACORN Canada convention six weeks ago with top officials of the Finance Ministry our negotiators efforts to discuss the need for regulation of remittances to prevent predatory pricing and achieve needed equity, transparency, and fundamental fairness was greeted about the same way as if we had started cursing loudly at the front of the church. We had offended fundamental, conservative Stephen Harper government dogma about so-called “free markets” and laissez faire rapacious capitalism by banks and money transfer organizations, especially if the rip-off occurred with migrant workers and immigrant, “new Canadians” as they are called.
The Finance Ministry turned the conversation to “disclosures” in a patty cake, kiss-your-cousin shot across the ACORN bow. Disclosures just won’t get it done, but…. There are some critical things that could be achieved by some real disclosures that include:
- simple language
- base rate from remitting institution to country for bank customer
- base rate from remitting institution to country for non-bank customer
- transparent fees at receiving end if any or a guarantee that there are none.
- disclosure of exchange rate at time of remittance transfer
- disclosure of pricing regime compared other electronic transfer procedures to prove this is not discriminatory pricing
We might save billions just by letting that little light shine.
On the western side of Canada an action by ACORN British Columbia demanding remittance justice provoked an email response from Englwood, Colorado, a Denver suburb, and headquarters of Western Union. Spokesman there told the Burnaby News-Leader:
“’Many people worldwide have no access to formal financial services. We invest in rural areas and urban locations alike to offer consumers an option to send and receive remittances and better manage their finances.’ Increased consumer choices for sending money have led to lower costs across the industry, the company said.”
Wow! Here is what that statement translates to in normal everyday English:
“We enjoy near monopoly advantages in many global markets because there are no other financial service alternatives, so we charge whatever we damned well please to send and receive remittances, because we can. The only reason we will lower costs is if a competitor crowds into our monopoly market and forces us to have to do so.”
At ACORN I guess Western Union thought it was important to remind us that with no regulations and little competition, rapacious corporate greed can pretty much stand on its hind legs and flip off its customers, their organizations, and entire limp wristed, uncaring governments at their whim and will. Hello!