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<p>WASHINGTON – In a February 28 statement to the Senate Banking Committee, CUNA and the World Council of Credit Unions reiterated their opposition to a provision of the U.S. Patriot Act which calls on the U.S. Treasury to study the issuing of special financial service ID numbers to foreigners using financial services in the U.S. and detailed the cost many immigrants face trying to send money home. “On Friday afternoons, many immigrants receive paychecks from their employers. On either Friday evening or Saturday afternoon after work, immigrants file into ethnic grocery stores and check cashers. They cash their paychecks at a cost of 1 to 3% of the face value, which on average equates to a $13.50 fee,” CUNA wrote. “Next, roughly 60% of Latino immigrants step over to the next window to send home $300 to their family members through a money transfer service. For this service, the individual is charged $11,” CUNA added. “The total cost of this transaction for the immigrant, excluding shoe leather transaction costs, is $33.50 on average or $41.50 with the market leader,” CUNA said. The total cost of this exact sequence of a transaction using the International Remittance Network (IRnet”) service is $14.” But direct charges are only part of the picture CUNA said. “Because of the general lack of trust of the providers and the large relative share of their salary being sent, individuals prefer the funds to be available to their families within hours of originating the transactions; therefore, they will often purchase a calling card to inform families the money was sent and to say a brief hello. The cost of this phone call is roughly $3.” “When the family receives the money abroad in local currency, the money transmitter is also earning on the foreign exchange rate and the family member will receive the dollar equivalent of $294 (based on an average of 23 companies in the Mexican market, but with the market leaders, the family will only receive the equivalent of $290),” CUNA wrote.</p>

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