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Brazzil - Economy - June 2004
 

Sending Money to Brazil? Charge It.

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. Most of the remittances come
from the United States, with an estimated 55 percent of them.
Japan is in second place with 27 percent of the remittances.

Nelson Motta


Brazzil

Picture 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 costs—around 3 percent—and 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 US—an 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 other cards.

"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.

International Teller

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 Website

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 of Caixa.

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) per month.


Nelson Motta works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.




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