The remittance industry provides international money transfer services for migrant workers and individuals looking to send relatively small amounts of money overseas. Money transfer operators (‘MTOs’) facilitate these international payments and offer services to a segment of the market that is often unserved by banks. An alarming trend is developing in Australia of banks closing the accounts of MTOs. A potential explanation for this trend is the increased cost of regulation and perceived risk to the banks from facilitating these transactions. However, these account closures create real problems for the remittance industry, Australia and the Asia Pacific region.
This paper is in five parts. Part I highlights the importance of remittances to the Pacific Island Countries (‘PICs’) and Australia. Part II explores the trend of account closures in Australia. Part III considers the regulatory framework in Australia, and argues that the current approach to anti-money laundering (‘AML’) and counter-terrorist financing (‘CTF’) regulation has had the unintended consequence of encouraging banks to create financial exclusion. Part IV investigates the factors that have influenced bank behaviour. Finally, Part V explores the role that financial regulation should play in promoting financial inclusio