Imagine being thousands of miles away from your family, working hard to make enough money to help them pay rent, buy groceries, and afford other essentials. That’s the reality for millions of Filipinos around the world.
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) send more than $30 billion home every year, with over 40% of that coming from the US. It allows loved ones to pay their bills, raise children, and overall better their living conditions.
However, despite the importance of these remittances, they are often subject to high fees and long wait times. International money transfers can cost up to 7% of the total amount sent and can take several days (or even weeks) to process.
This directly affects the financial well-being of OFW families, as they receive less money and deal with inconsistent arrivals.
Finding a Remittance Solution
One solution to this problem is to turn to digital remittance platforms, which can drastically reduce the cost of sending money overseas and significantly speed up the process.
Some platforms even have options to send money directly to the recipient’s bank account or set up recurring transfers, removing the need for the recipient to travel to a physical pick-up point.
But digital remittance has earned a so-so reputation in recent years because of increased online scams and frauds. Recipients are often located in remote areas that are underbanked or without consistent internet access. Moreover, digital literacy could stand in the way of older recipients adopting such platforms.
So, for a digital solution to be effective, it has to overcome four key obstacles.
The cost of sending money is one of the most significant issues for OFWs. Traditional money transfers can eat away a significant portion of the amount due to unwarranted high fees. Any solution has to ensure that the money sent is the money received, with no or minimal fees, to offer more financial stability to families.
OFWs and their families currently go through several hoops to send and collect money. Often, recipients have to travel a significant distance to a physical pickup point, which might be dangerous, especially in remote regions.
The solution must deliver a superior, convenient experience for everyone, not just those in major city centers.
Ease of Use
A digital remittance solution should be user-friendly for both sides of the transaction. It has to accommodate the needs and capabilities of diverse user age groups.
Integrating features that help make transactions simple and straightforward for tech-savvy younger generations and older or less tech-savvy individuals is crucial. This includes ensuring the platform can function in areas with inconsistent internet access.
Furthermore, the solution must deliver speed. Long wait times for transfers often turn into financial stress for recipient families, especially during emergencies.
The proposed system must ensure that international transfers are instant or near instant, with real-time tracking features to provide users with the assurance their money is on its way.
Pomelo: A Modern (But Familiar) Answer
Pomelo offers an innovative yet familiar solution to the shortcomings of the current remittance practices. It operates as a charge card designed specifically with overseas Filipino workers in mind.
The process is simple and effective: a user based in the US applies for the Pomelo Card, sends it to their family back home, and then pays off the balance each month.
One of the most substantial advantages Pomelo provides is eliminating fees associated with international money transfers. By using the Pomelo card, OFWs can ensure that every cent they earn goes directly towards supporting their families instead of vanishing into fees.
Pomelo provides instant access to funds without the need for multiple middlemen and drawn-out processing times that come with traditional remittance methods. This also crucially removes the stress and worry associated with waiting for funds to arrive.
Pomelo essentially operates on a credit card model, which provides a sense of familiarity and trust for users. It’s a method they know and understand, eliminating the intimidation or confusion often associated with newer digital remittance platforms.
The card can be used wherever Mastercard, Google Pay, and Apple Pay are accepted, giving recipients a wide range of options. Whether it is a local grocery store or an online retailer, the card offers daily ease of use for families who receive it.
How It Works
Pomelo is designed with user-friendliness in mind, employing a straightforward three-step process to make the transaction as seamless as possible.
The first step is for someone in the US to apply. They must be over 18 years old and able to provide their Social Security Number. Depending on their credit score, applicants may need to submit a security deposit.
In the second step, the applicant chooses up to three recipients. These recipients must provide their IDs for verification, following which they each receive a custom Pomelo card.
The custom Pomelo cards arrive within 10 days, providing the recipients instant access to the funds. The quick turnaround time ensures families can rely on funding without cumbersome wait times.
Remit, Repay, Relax
The ease-of-use and convenience of Pomelo have been distilled into their slogan: “Remit, Repay, Relax.” Recipients spend the money then the user in the US pays off the balance each month. And the best part? There are no fees to worry about on either side.
Pomelo makes money from the merchants where the card is used, not from its users—making it a win-win situation for everyone involved. This means that loved ones can have the support they need without additional financial strain, and users can truly relax knowing they are providing their families with a secure, convenient, and cost-effective solution.
While remittance may not be something many of us think about very often, it is critical for Filipino families worldwide. The act of sending money home can mean the difference between affording essential necessities and struggling without them.
Enhancing the process with innovative solutions like Pomelo is about improving the quality of life, enabling dreams, and providing safety nets for millions of families. By streamlining remittance, we help bridge distances, ensuring no family is left behind due to geographic or financial constraints.