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6 States account for 50 pc of remittances

Our Bureau

Kochi Nov. 22

Six States, Kerala, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, would be accounting for 40-50 per cent of the $23-billion annual remittances to India, Mr Anil Kapur, Managing Director of Western Union for South Asia, said. The company, which has been in the country for over 12 years, plans to continue its focus on rural India.

Western Union, which had a presence through 3,000 outlets in 2001, has extended its reach to 36,000 today. The company had also tied up with petroleum marketing companies, BPCL and HPCL for extending its reach further.

Mr Anil Kapur was in Kochi to announce that its principal agent AFL has entered into an agreement with Indian Oil Corporation to provide in-bound money transfer services in Kerala through its Kisan Seva Kendra.

Fifty Kisan Seva Kendras, which are situated in the interiors that offer petroleum products and a host of other services such as money transfer, have been chosen as partners, Mr Kapur said. Of the 20 million Indians who have migrated abroad, West AsiaMiddle East accounts for the largest segment of NRIs, who most often come from some of the remotest parts of the country. The company said that it is best positioned to service their requirements since we have it has offices in places such as from Port Blair, Ladakh and in to remote parts of Mizoram.

With its thrust on rural India, Western Union has been focusing more on low-value high-volume remittance traffic. As the trust in Post Office among the rural population continues to remain quite high, the reach and volume of Western Union has been quite high in rural India. The reach and extent of bank remittances through electronic transfers is still predominantly confined to urban India.

Mr Kapur said that despite the large Diaspora of Indians living in the Gulf countries, the US would still be contributing $8-9 billion of the annual $23- billion remittances to India. Kerala alone accounted for $4 billion in the annual remittance kitty. The company, which has been able to successfully woo a large number of NRIs to send their remittances through Western Union by reducing the service charges for remitting 8,500 dirhams from 25 to 15 dirhams for the Kerala customer, said that it they would extending the facility to at an all-India level.

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