Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

UAE remittance market nears ‘saturation point’

Customers at UAE remittance company Al Ansari. The revised pricing remains is in line with the UN's sustainable developmental goals Al Ansari
Customers at UAE remittance company Al Ansari. The revised pricing remains is in line with the UN's sustainable developmental goals
  • Remittance firms in Emirates likely to consolidate or ‘get amalgamated’
  • Bricks-and-mortar model is important for UAE market
  • 76% of consumers expect to remit more money in next year

The remittance and foreign exchange market in the UAE is “saturated” and will need consolidation as new businesses continue to emerge.

“Either people will have to grow digitally [at scale] to capture market share or they’ll get amalgamated,” said Zahir Moghal, CEO of Abu Dhabi currency provider Delma Exchange.

“It’s totally saturated. It’s completely over-supplied and, on top of that, you’ve got so many new players that have come in.”

Remittance activity is driven by the UAE’s large population of expatriate workers, particularly from Asia and Africa.

Transfers from the Emirates are set to increase: 76 percent of consumers that send money home say they will need to transfer more in the next 12 months, according to Western Union.

The US giant signed a deal with Delma Exchange in April, under which all six of the Abu Dhabi company’s stores will be rebranded.

Moghal said the plan was to have 25 stores open by the end of next year and 50 by the end of 2025.

“I don’t think the UAE is ever going to get away from a bricks-and-mortar model because it serves a particular demographic,” he said.

Al Ansari Financial Services in Dubai has also revealed plans to expand.

Off the back of its listing on the Dubai Financial Market last month, the company is to open 15 exchanges across the UAE by the end of this year.

These will be in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and other cities in the Northern Emirates and will take the total number of physical outlets to 246, the company said.

Al Ansari raised AED773 million ($210.5 million) from its IPO. It plans to have 300 branches within the next five years.

Merger activity has risen across the region in the first three months of the year. EY’s Mena Insights report, published last week, reported a 42 percent increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions in Q1 compared with the same period last year.

It also showed that 165 deals worth $25.8 billion took place in Q1, building on a buoyant 2022 when investment banking fees were generated to the value of $1.6 billion.

Fintech, the use of technology to deliver financial services and products to consumers, remains a preferred destination for venture capital funding across the region, according to figures from Wamda in its monthly report for May. 

“I think you’ve got to look at [fintech firms] as friends,” Moghal said.

“Fintech is a buzzword. Things aren’t as seamless as you think. You still need people to make sure things are done properly. There has to be some involvement of human beings.”

Latest articles

EGSH

Dubai launches one-stop hub to streamline government services

People in Dubai can now obtain an Emirates ID, register a company, open a bank account and more under one roof following the opening of the Emirates Government Services Hub (EGSH). Owned by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, a member of the Dubai Royal family, EGSH allows clients to access all essential […]

In association with
Thailand's consul general Kitinai Nutakul visits the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jeddah

Thailand opens investment office in Saudi Arabia

Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) is opening its first Middle East office in Saudi Arabia, signaling a deepening of economic ties between the nations after a longstanding diplomatic spat. The office will focus on attracting Saudi investment into Thailand’s targeted industries and supporting Thai entrepreneurs looking to invest in the region, the BOI said in […]

hajj saudi arabia

Saudia reports big rise in international passengers

Saudi Arabia’s national carrier Saudia reported a 24 percent increase in international passengers to 9.1 million in the first half of 2024. There was also a 13 percent rise in the number of flights. The Hajj pilgrimage in June played a large part in the growth.  The number of passengers flying on domestic routes rose […]

renewables target dam

World is off track to meet Cop28 renewables goal

The world is far from reaching its 2030 renewables target, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said on Thursday. Countries committed at the Cop28 summit in Dubai last year to treble renewables capacity in order to limit global warming to 1.5C. To stay on course global capacity growth needs to accelerate to a minimum rate […]