We get stymied by reports, quoting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, suggesting that personal remittances or transfers in cash or in kind by Overseas Filipino Workers have grown by 7.7 percent to $2.97 billion in October.
The figures are the highest in 10 months since remittances came at $3.16 billion in December 2018, with year-to-date, personal remittances up by 4.3 percent at $27.6 billion.
Despite remittances hitting record highs worldwide, reports by the US-based UniTeller, an international payments company, say Filipinos run out of cash due to poor financial planning, with monthly remittances from OFWs now averaging more than 2.5 times the monthly income of recipients.
The study suggests that half of remittances received by Filipino households—a little over 20 million—are used for daily needs (25 percent) and loan repayments (25 percent); the rest goes to education (13 percent); savings (13 percent) and non-essential luxury items (7 percent).
UniTeller has noted that poor financial planning is experienced by almost 19 percent of families who admitted they regularly run out of money.
Sad sign of the times indeed, that around 72 percent of Filipino families have admitted reaching out to their kin overseas when they run out of cash, while 53 percent will forego daily needs should this happen.
And then there is the emotional stress involved, with 41 percent of families saying the expectation of receiving remittances places such stress on the family and 54 percent saying this has an impact on their relationship with their sender-relatives.
The UniTeller study has also shown that 78 percent of the respondents have a mobile wallet account and 97 percent have a smartphone.
But that despite, families are still using popular cash transfer mobile applications, with around 67 percent of respondents saying they still use cash pick-ups, and less than half of 41 percent course cash through banks while 29 percent use mobile wallets.
A mobile wallet is a virtual wallet that stores payment card information on a mobile device, seen as a convenient way for a user to make in-store payments and can be used at merchants listed with the mobile wallet service provider.