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Persons queue up outside Western Union in Kingstown on Saturday. (iWN photo)
Persons queue up outside Western Union in Kingstown on Saturday. (iWN photo)
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A number of persons who depend on remittances have questioned the policy requiring them to now present two pieces of national identification to collect monies sent to them from abroad.

The policy has left some persons shopping around in their families for members who might have a driver’s licences or a passport to use along with their national identity cards to receive remittances.

The National Insurance Services card, which is issued to persons older than 16 who register, does not have a photo and, therefore, cannot be used for identification purposes.

One South Leeward family recently told iWitness News that they had to wait for days to collect monies from a local money transfer agency.

The wait was occasioned because the recipient had to ask the sender to ask the money transfer agency to change the name of the recipient to that of their sole household member who happens to have a driver’s licence: a retired man.

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Asked about the situation, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said:

“It’s not so much the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is the international standard which has been set and what I understand has been happening is that the agencies, the money services entities, they have been using their discretion so that somebody comes in and they have only their passport or they may not have their passport, they may have their identification, and it is somebody who they have a history of dealing with, they continue to deal with them.”

The prime minister, speaking at the press conference last Monday, March 12, did not say how it is that the policy allows for discretion regarding who can collect money with only one piece of national identification.

He, however, said that a money transfer agency may ask a new customer who only has one piece of identification to get someone “to vouch for them.

“It is a kind of know your customer situation,” he said.

But the South Leeward family was forced to have the name of the recipient changed although they have been receiving for years small amounts of cash from their relatives in North America via the money transfer agency.

Hans King, press secretary to the prime minister, said at the press conference that he thinks that the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which regulates non-commercial bank financial institutions in SVG, issued a statement some time ago about the need for two pieces of identification.

It seems to be the practice of the FSA to have a select few media entities through which to publish their press releases as paid content and not send them to other media outlets, such as iWitness News, which has offered to disseminate the information without charge, or as paid content, as the FSA sees fit.

iWitness News also did not find on the FSA’s website any statement about the need for two pieces of national identification to collect remittances.

Gonsalves said when the policy was introduced “it created some difficulties because there was no warning and apparently, originally, there was no flexibility.

“But, apparently, from how I understand it has operated, if John Browne has been somebody who has been dealing with the money services agency, they would have them in the system and they know they have been dealing with them for some time and there is no problem and all they have is the identification card, they will still deal with them. If it is a new person who is coming, they will request and say bring a second piece of ID for me or some kind of documentation,” the prime minister said.

Meanwhile, King also said that agencies in the United States tell the sender that the person who is receiving the money must have two pieces of ID.

13 replies on “Money transfer two ID ‘policy’ creating difficulties”

  1. Policies of this sort don’t and won’t be on the FSA website FYI iwn smh…… The PM is right SVG has no control over this period!!!!

  2. it is very difficult to have two persons with the same name, social security number, birthdate, address etc. I can imagine this situation to be very frustrating when you cannot receive your money transfer because you need to have two official ID documents to prove that it is indeed you. I wonder if the money transfer agency is as difficult and complicated when you want to send a money transfer.

  3. But strange you dont need to id to send money. And of course the government has it part to play how come where i live we dont need two just one either your passport or id card

  4. The prime minister seems to have to deal even with the most petty issues in the land. This case is clear its an international issue so how do you take this to the PM. Have the roads been fixed? Has security in SVG been addressed or should I ask how far is the inditement case that the FBI are investigating gone?

  5. Maxine in USA , i send money every month & the agency up here never once said to me that my relatives need two pieces of id in order to collect the money in SVG , i wonder where the pm got that information from.

  6. Agustus Carr says:

    My understanding is that the money control number and the identification are the security protocols in place for receiving monies by wire. Once the number is correct and the identification is authentic there should be no need for a second form of Id.

    It appears to me this measure was put in place because they are questionining the integrity of the identification that is being presented. Is it that our passport and other forms of identification in SVG or perhaps in some Caribbean Islands have loss their credibility?

    I have warned about these citizenship by investment programs and granting of citizenship under the table. All of these have implications on our respective countries especially when the integrity of the process is in question? If you give your passport to all sorts of people then these types of things that will happen.

    I live in another Caribbean Island and we have not seen these measures implemented as yet. This make me want to believe that SVG have put these measures in place in response to the recent money laundering scandal that has engulfed the country.

    There are two solutions to this identification saga. The money transfer companies can higher a fraudulent document recognition expert to assist with the process of inspecting and authenticating the the various forms of identifications.

    Second you can now send monies by using crypto currencies without paying the fees and avoiding government regulations. You can also use PayPal for this purpose. There are always subversive measures, which are not illegal. They are on the internet just read up about them.

  7. C. ben-David says:

    A side issue, at most. The front and centre issue is that we are a dirt poor country that has to export our best and brightest citizens to work in richer countries so they can send money to their hungry family back home.

    Every time I pass the main Bickles in Kingstown where a Western Union outlet is now housed, there is a line of at least 20 desperate people on the street waiting to get in to pick up their overseas Poor Relief, as shown in the photo above.

    Watch a time in little SVG!

  8. This is a ridiculous policy that inconveniences the masses to “protect” a few people annually. I send money semi-regularly from the USA to my Brothers in SVG and was directly impacted by this unannounced policy change today. After contacting Western Union they repeatedly indicated that they have received no communication from any agency in SVG about the shift to a two-ID policy. Because of this, WU will continue to inform their senders that only one piece of ID is needed until an official communication is made to them. Long story short…this will continue to be an issue due to someones lack of planning, or messaging in SVG on this matter. These are the types of things that lead people in developed nations to think of small Caribbean nations as backwards, and banana republics!

  9. It was implemented at least 2 years ago that you need to have a government issued id to send money with money gram but I do not think all businesses enforce this rule. I believe all the “extra security measures” are being put in place primarily due to money laundering world wide. I don’t know about having 2 pieces of id to receive the funds as this is not something you are told by the agents when sending money.

  10. Why does IWN have to always post Ben David degrading comments, you already made your case the Vincentians are inferior to you when is the insults going to stop.
    With the issue of two pieces of ID, with all these scamming going on within the Caribbean, Jamaica in particular where they scamming people out of there hard earn retirement money sending 17 years old and even homeless people to collect money for them.

  11. Only the poor will feel it. You telling me, people abroad sending home $100 to help out to buy medication and food and you telling me you need two pieces of ID. These are poor people, come on. This is what happened when a government just stays in power to long.

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