New Orleans The typhoon that devastated large parts of the Philippines, in a Hurricane Katrina like disaster many are seeing as part of what we can expect regularly in the future from climate change, is inspiring protests by poor countries at the UN Climate Change Conference and some corporate social responsibility, but, sadly nowhere near enough, especially in the United States.
Some banks have stepped up to do the right thing and have waived all transfer fees, most for a month from mid-November until mid-December. There may be more on the honor roll, but from what I’ve found so far, it includes two banks in Canada, the BMO Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of Scotland, there and presumably elsewhere, Wells Fargo is the only bank in the US that has stepped up, and the Noor Islamic Bank in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. That’s all ACORN International has been able to locate.
Of the scores of money transfer organizations, Western Union has been the surprising hero here, though with exceptions. In Canada, they are doing transfers to the Philippines for $1.00. Interestingly, the Western Union website in the US seems to have waived fees completely, though it’s a mystery to me why they are charging a loony in Canada and nada in the States. Regardless, cheers to them for doing what they are doing since MoneyGram, the other huge MTO, is charging $5 for a $100 transfer, which is hardly a bargain, and shows little heart in this crisis.
But, what’s up with US-based banks? Why is Wells Fargo the only one of the big boys standing tall in the face of this tragedy? Where are Chase, Bank of America, Citi, and the rest?
And, even more puzzling, especially in wake of the $1 charge by Western Union in Canada, are we starting to find out the real cost for these folks to do transfers?
But, I digress. The important thing now is for all of us to ask our banks to waive all transfer fees to the Philippines so that there can be real resources and financial help for typhoon victims. Raise your voice for lowering the fees!