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WESTERn union

A large crowd outside Western Union in Kingstown in April 2021.

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People standing on the sidewalk while waiting for services at money transfer businesses will be a thing of the past when an amendment passed in Parliament last week comes into effect.

Among other things, the Money Services Business (Amendment) Act says that money transfer service must have adequate premises.

“… anyone, parliamentarian or not, who walks around in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be sensitive to the issue now of adequacy of premises,” Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves said in presenting the amendments to Parliament.

He noted that there are two money transmission companies licensed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and operating under the supervision of the Financial Services Authority. They are MoneyGram and Western Union.

“And I have observed and I’ve spoken to the FSA and the Ministry of Finance, that during peak periods, you sometimes see some very long lines on the sidewalk of people lining up to collect their remittances … and also to send money,” the minister said.

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“… and you’ll see these lines on the sidewalk and you’ll say, ‘Oh, my goodness. There must be a tremendous line inside because it spills out all the way onto the sidewalk.

“But sometimes when you look in the building, there’s no space in the building for people. Sometimes the remittances part of the business is ancillary, to the main purpose of the business.

“So you will see a restaurant that also has a remittance service, or you will see a travel agency that also has a remittance service, or you may see a post office — well, at least the post office has space for people to line up inside,” the finance minister said.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation worse.

He noted that the previous law did not require approval of the place of business of money services entities.

“So there is no current requirement that you have to get approval to put your Western Union or your MoneyGram, inside of Joe’s Rum Shop.”

He, however, said that the trend in the region indicates that regulatory authorities are being asked to approve the place of business for these money service entities and for the explicit requirements of that approval to be stated in law.

“There’re customer service reasons, there’re comfort reasons, there are also security reasons because you don’t want people in situations coming in and out of places that are susceptible to crime,” Gonsalves told Parliament. 

He said the amendments include provisions that would require approval by the Financial Services Authority, of the chosen place of business for these entities.

Gonsalves said draft guidelines have been prepared, which would provide guidance on the adequacy of the place of business of these types of institutions.

Meanwhile, in her contribution to the debate, Opposition Senator Shevern John welcomed the amendments.

She said that money transfer is vital to the Vincentian economy, adding that at Christmas time, many people stand in long lines in the sun or rain, awaiting services and even seniors have to wait in line for hours.

“And you keep wondering why it is that these institutions are not making the necessary provision for these people,” John said.

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9 replies on “Gov’t to regulate location of money transfer businesses”

  1. Bull crap. Western Union and MoneyGram can go in anywhere of business. That’s how it up here in the united states. Why is the is these politicians always in people business.

  2. Ok, Sir,
    I agree with the unsightly look from the street. But now I must ask what you will do about the lines outside every bank in town. Are you far too these multipurpose entities that provide a service and only exist because of the lack of business education by both our people at home and overseas?

    How about doing something to make it easier to open a bank account in a bank with an international SWIF CODE that is easily accessible. I tell you if you are living overseas and try to send some money home through BOSVG; you leave the bank hoping that your money will get to it’s destination

  3. U don’t try to distract us wid those peti things. D discomfort u cuz to so many vincentian families by taking away their bread basket wid yo woeful mandate cannot be compare wid. U so cunning and pretentious playing on poor people’s mind and u take pleasure in doing so. Yes those who use those services deserve better comfort. But keep in mind that u cuzing d biggest discomfort to vincies rite now, and its getting to them.

  4. Is shame dem shame! watching all those people waiting for money every month end.
    No work ,no income ,poor we still voting LABOUR

  5. What about those collecting government handouts and public assistance and the road wokers on pay day. Subtle way to pressure black businesses. What about the lines at CWSA when customers are paying bills in the sun and the rain.

  6. Mr ugee, shut yo mouth keep yo dignify silence as de instruction given to you. shame yo na get. boy ar yo really ha more guts dan bolie. You an yo popaa

  7. Deer are only two of these type businesses in SVG, what they tarking bout regulate? I’m starting to doubt if peepel does reed d news.

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