International remittances are playing an increasingly important role in the economies of developing countries. Aside from being an important source of foreign exchange for many recipient countries, recent research has shown that households that receive remittances are more likely to leave poverty status, to send their children to school and to invest in small enterprises, health, education and housing. While remittances bring numerous benefits to households in developing countries, little is known about the extent to which remittance flows are reduced by the fact that migrants have limited ability to monitor and control how remittances are spent by beneficiaries. This research aims to investigate whether the introduction of new, innovative financial services can enhance the ability of migrants to save, monitor and control how their remittances are utilized. In partnership with a financial institution in the Philippines, we have designed two new financial products that will be offered randomly via a field experiment, to a sample of Filipino migrants in Qatar enrolled in this study. The first financial product is a commitment savings account that has the potential to raise household savings for clients with self-control concerns. The second financial product is a direct (bill) payment facility that allows a migrant to pay vendors in the Philippines directly. The offer of financial services to the migrant is to enable them to either save more of their remittances (using the commitment savings account) and/or make payments directly to vendors in the Philippines (with the direct payment facility), as opposed to having their families back home arrange payments. All subjects in Qatar and their origin households in the Philippines will be administered a baseline survey covering employment, income and expenses, level of remittances, financial services used and desired and savings. A follow-up survey will be administered later to the migrant and their households in order to determine the use of the new products and its impact on the level and use of remittances or more generally household expenditures.


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  1. S.G. Kumar, Enhancing the development impact of remittances: a study ofdirect payment and savings facilities for Filipino workers in Qatar, QFARF Proceedings, 2010, AHO7.
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