Sending Money to Brazil? Charge It.

     Sending Money to Brazil? Charge 

    It is estimated that
    there are 2.5 million Brazilians living abroad.
    Last year they sent US$ 2.9 billion back to Brazil, according
    to the Brazilian Central Bank. Most of the remittances come
    from the United States, with an estimated 55 percent of them.
    Japan is in second place with 27 percent of the remittances.
    by: Nelson

    Brazilians living abroad are now able to use the Internet to send money back
    to Brazil and, if they wish, open savings accounts. Such financial operations
    will have reduced costs—around 3 percent—and will be guaranteed
    by the government.

    The announcement of a
    new program which will make the financial transfers and savings accounts possible
    was made by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The Federal Mortgage
    and Loan Bank (Caixa Econômica Federal) (CEF) will run the operations.

    At the moment, most remittances
    by Brazilians living abroad are through informal means, due to the fact that
    many of them do not have legal status in the countries where they reside.
    Such unconventional financial operations can be very expensive, costing up
    to 8 percent per transfer.

    Most of the remittances
    come from the US—an estimated 55 percent of them. Japan is in second
    place with 27 percent of the remittances.

    It is estimated that there
    are 2.5 million Brazilians living abroad. Last year they sent US$2.9 billion
    back to Brazil, according to the Brazilian Central Bank.

    Under the new program,
    it will be possible to charge remittances to a credit card. The Caixa Econômica
    says it now accepts only Visa credit cards, but will soon be operating with
    other cards.

    "Our objective is
    to get these remittances flowing through the conventional financial system,
    thereby reducing costs. We also want to give assistance to Brazilians living
    abroad and increase our control of funds deposited in domestic banks so they
    can be used to create jobs and income here in Brazil," declared Wilson
    Risolia Rodrigues, a CEF vice president.


    In May, the Federal Savings
    Bank had already announced this program calling International Teller. At that
    time, the president of the Bank, Jorge Mattoso, said at the First National
    Conference on Money Transfers, sponsored by the Inter-American Development
    Bank (IDB), that Brazilians living abroad would be able to remit funds to
    Brazil for a charge of 2.6-3.0 percent. "These are the lowest rates on
    this market in Brazil," Mattoso underscored.

    Risolia, announced that
    the initial goal was to obtain a 10 percent increase in the transfers made
    by the Brazilians who live abroad. The new product now introduced in the United
    States should be launched in September in Portugal, and in October in Japan.

    The International Teller
    has the advantage of making the funds sent from abroad available to their
    recipients in Brazil within 40 hours.

    The Website

    The site designed specially
    to host the remittance service, will be available for any Brazilian citizen
    living abroad. The electronic page can be accessed by the Caixa site (
    or directly by the electronic address
    and will function as a virtual store.

    `The client comes in,
    chooses the service he or she wants and puts it in the cart, as if the customer
    were going shopping in a virtual supermarket’, says Jorge Mattoso, president
    of Caixa.

    The executive guarantees
    that the remittance service will attend over 2 million Brazilians living overseas.
    This public is equivalent to more than 1 percent of Brazil’s population, according
    to the survey conducted by Itamaraty, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry.

    It is estimated that 100
    thousand Brazilians go abroad, each year, in search of better job opportunities.
    The most desirable countries are the USA, Japan, Germany and Portugal.

    In order to have access
    to the new services the Brazilian immigrant needs to open an electronic baking
    account (e-account) by accessing the Caixa site on the Internet. For that,
    one must be a Brazilian citizen, born or naturalized, be living abroad, have
    a valid CPF (tax registration number) in Brazil and have a foreign credit
    card. The limit for each operation will be R$ 10 thousand reais (US$ 3,200)
    per month.

    Nelson Motta works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency
    of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at

    from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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