Labour migration

New digital service “SaverAsia” helps migrant workers save when sending money home

A new free digital platform helps migrant workers compare money transfer costs and locate support organizations.

News | 10 December 2018
SaverAsia makes it easier and more affordable for migrant workers to send money home. The website has been developed by Developing Markets Associates (DMA) in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) through its TRIANGLE in ASEAN programme and supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Global Affairs Canada.

The average cost to send remittances within the region ranges from 3 per cent to 20 per cent, depending on the service provider used. Other challenges include difficulties accessing a bank office and low awareness of available financial services. As a result, many migrants depend on a small circle of friends for financial information, use informal channels, and often queue for a long time each month to send money home by cash.

Save time, save money and save for the future

SaverAsia is part of an ILO global strategy to address these challenges. Marja Paavilanen, Senior Programme Officer of TRIANGLE in ASEAN, states, “SaverAsia helps migrant workers save time, save money, and save for their future.”

It does so in three ways. First, SaverAsia helps users compare costs and services for sending money home through various money transfer operators, including online services, mobile wallets, branch-based services, and banking. It provides both live rates and full cost comparisons (collected periodically). The website allows users to compare prices and services across each major ASEAN remittance corridor, including: Singapore to Myanmar, Indonesia, or Philippines; Malaysia to Cambodia, Myanmar, or Viet Nam; and Thailand to Myanmar, Cambodia, or Laos.

SaverAsia helps migrant workers save time, save money, and save for their future."

Ms. Marja Paavilainen, Senior Programme Officer of TRIANGLE in ASEAN
Secondly, it provides information on financial services, such as bank accounts, mobile wallets, micro-credits, insurance, and financial literacy courses, and a budget calculator. This will help users to save for their future and improve their finances.

Thirdly, it helps users connect with local support organizations.

The importance of remittances in Asia-Pacific

Migration plays a significant role within the dynamic ASEAN region, a region home to over 635 million people with increasing economic growth. Almost 7 million ASEAN nationals have migrated to another country within the region. A number which has increased more than fivefold since 1990.

Migrant workers contribute to the communities where they work as well as their economy back home by sending money back home, so-called remittances. The Asia-Pacific region is the biggest receiver of remittances worldwide. Migrant workers from the region sent US$256 billion home in 2017. This is more than ten times the amount of development aid received in the region.

To maximize the development impact of migrant remittances, migrant workers need to have access to affordable and accessible money transfer and banking services. Yet, international money transfers can be costly and lengthy processes with considerable risks involved. SaverAsia is an example of how digital technology can help make financial services accessible to migrant workers.

Available in seven different languages

To make sure that SaverAsia matches the needs of migrants in the region, migrant workers were engaged in user group testing sessions during the development phase. The web site and guides on how to use SaverAsia are available in seven languages including Bahasa, Burmese, English, Khmer, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Labour migration in the ASEAN region has existed for a long time and keeps growing. But now, with a digital tool like SaverAsia, migrant workers and their families can send and save more, and, ultimately, the ASEAN region can better maximize the economic benefits of labour migration.

The formal launch of SaverAsia was organized on 29 October at the 11th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour in Singapore which carried the theme “Digitalization to Promote Decent Work for Migrant Workers in ASEAN.

SaverAsia has been developed by Developing Markets Associates (DMA). The International Labour Organization (ILO), through its TRIANGLE in ASEAN programme, is providing partial support to the establishment and maintenance of this website. TRIANGLE in ASEAN is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Global Affairs Canada.

Visit SaverAsia here:

For more information:

Helene Thor
Communications and Advocacy Officer
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific