"Exorbitant rates" for Africans

In front of a money transfer office in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 2015.
Faced with a money transfer office in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 2015. Thomas Mukoya / REUTERS

Desperately searching for 680 million euros … The last survey conducted by the UFC-Que Choisir could also have been titled, but the consumer association preferred to call it "International money transfers: an area of no rights at immoral prices ". A title that sums up how this business thrives on the money of the less fortunate.

The investigators found that 6.7% of the 10.2 billion euros sent in 2017 from France to a country outside the European Union (EU) have evaporated. About 680 million euros left the pockets of immigrants without ever reaching the portfolios of their families left in the country. No theft in all this, nothing illegal. These are just the costs that money transfer companies have to pay for these shipments.

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Because they are champions of sending money to the country, the Africans of France or the French of African descent are the most punished. Of the top ten countries that receive money from France, you are in Africa. Morocco arrives first, with 2 billion euros in 2017; Algeria follows with 1.46 billion; then Tunisia (950 million), Senegal (550 million), Mali (200 million) and Madagascar (190 million).

Knowing that a Malian sends an average of € 1,373 per year in his country of origin in 150-euro envelopes, at the end of the year he would have given an average of € 71 to the transfer agency. For the Algerian, it is more expensive: its average annual fee is 102 euros for an average transfer of 1,124 euros.

"Hidden exchange fees"

And that's not all. The UFC-Que Choisir survey proves this"In addition to exorbitant rates" for these shipments, you have to deal with "The hidden exchange fees of money transfer companies, which in 2017 amounted to over 110 million euros". Thus, with a transfer of 170 euros to Morocco, exchange fees represent 28% of the total fees paid. Towards Algeria, these costs go up to 32% and 42% to Tunisia. On the other hand, countries using the CFA franc are exempt from these exchange fees.

In his study, the UFC-Que Choisir deplores the opacity of the applied rates, which the customer generally knows little about. The named association "Public authorities are creating the conditions for healthy consumer competition, which calls in particular to make price conditions for money transfers transparent, particularly on exchange fees". This is one of the conclusions of this work published on the association's website.

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While remittances to the euro area are widely controlled, this is not the case for money sent by the EU. But the amount that passes from one continent to the other is half (€ 10.2 billion) of € 19 billion coming out of France each year. In detail, 52% of these transcontinental shipments are destined for the Middle East and North Africa and 15% for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Churches from UFC-Que Choisir, Western Union and MoneyGram, two of the leading sending organizations, have justified their rates thanks to the extensive development of their distribution network and their ability to make transfers in a very short time.

Infographics The world

Maryline Baumard

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