Brazilians living abroad are now able to use the Internet to send money back
to Brazil and, if they wish, open savings accounts. Such financial operations
will have reduced costsaround 3 percentand will be guaranteed
by the government.
The announcement of a
new program which will make the financial transfers and savings accounts possible
was made by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The Federal Mortgage
and Loan Bank (Caixa Econômica Federal) (CEF) will run the operations.
At the moment, most remittances
by Brazilians living abroad are through informal means, due to the fact that
many of them do not have legal status in the countries where they reside.
Such unconventional financial operations can be very expensive, costing up
to 8 percent per transfer.
Most of the remittances
come from the USan estimated 55 percent of them. Japan is in second
place with 27 percent of the remittances.
It is estimated that there
are 2.5 million Brazilians living abroad. Last year they sent US$2.9 billion
back to Brazil, according to the Brazilian Central Bank.
Under the new program,
it will be possible to charge remittances to a credit card. The Caixa Econômica
says it now accepts only Visa credit cards, but will soon be operating with
"Our objective is
to get these remittances flowing through the conventional financial system,
thereby reducing costs. We also want to give assistance to Brazilians living
abroad and increase our control of funds deposited in domestic banks so they
can be used to create jobs and income here in Brazil," declared Wilson
Risolia Rodrigues, a CEF vice president.
In May, the Federal Savings
Bank had already announced this program calling International Teller. At that
time, the president of the Bank, Jorge Mattoso, said at the First National
Conference on Money Transfers, sponsored by the Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB), that Brazilians living abroad would be able to remit funds to
Brazil for a charge of 2.6-3.0 percent. "These are the lowest rates on
this market in Brazil," Mattoso underscored.
Risolia, announced that
the initial goal was to obtain a 10 percent increase in the transfers made
by the Brazilians who live abroad. The new product now introduced in the United
States should be launched in September in Portugal, and in October in Japan.
The International Teller
has the advantage of making the funds sent from abroad available to their
recipients in Brazil within 40 hours.
The site designed specially
to host the remittance service, will be available for any Brazilian citizen
living abroad. The electronic page can be accessed by the Caixa site (http://www.caixa.gov.br/)
or directly by the electronic address http://internetcaixa.caixa.gov.br/caixainternacional
and will function as a virtual store.
`The client comes in,
chooses the service he or she wants and puts it in the cart, as if the customer
were going shopping in a virtual supermarket', says Jorge Mattoso, president
The executive guarantees
that the remittance service will attend over 2 million Brazilians living overseas.
This public is equivalent to more than 1 percent of Brazil's population, according
to the survey conducted by Itamaraty, Brazil's Foreign Ministry.
It is estimated that 100
thousand Brazilians go abroad, each year, in search of better job opportunities.
The most desirable countries are the USA, Japan, Germany and Portugal.
In order to have access
to the new services the Brazilian immigrant needs to open an electronic baking
account (e-account) by accessing the Caixa site on the Internet. For that,
one must be a Brazilian citizen, born or naturalized, be living abroad, have
a valid CPF (tax registration number) in Brazil and have a foreign credit
card. The limit for each operation will be R$ 10 thousand reais (US$ 3,200)
Nelson Motta works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency
of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.