By Muhammed Sailu Bah
Western Union Money Transfer, a major means through which money is transferred to friends and relatives in The Gambia has not been operating since on Thursday 28 May 2015 till the time of going to press. This was confirmed on Monday 1st June 2015, with both banks and Forex Bureaux operators.
A forex bureaux operator told this reporter that, they ceased to pay their clients through Western Union since Thursday 28 May 2015, due to the low rates of foreign exchange. He added that they have little profit on the Western Union Money Transaction because the western union rates are very high compared to the normal rates.
“Western union rates are very high, and still now they have not completely reduced it, for example the pound is exchanging at buying rate of D56.05 and selling at D62.00 while western union is paying D58 per pound which means we have a very little profit,” he explained.
He also cited the fluctuation of the exchange rate which is causing the instability in the business.
The employee of another Forex Bureau revealed that, he was asked by the proprietor to stop paying clients through western Union because the profit they receive is very low. He said that as at now they are only using RIA, Moneygram and other money sending and receiving Facilities but not Western Union.
Another Forex Bureau operator said that, now the payment they get from western union from the Central Bank is in dalasi instead of Dollars which she said is very discouraging.
“The central bank used to pay us in Dollars on the profits we made from the western union money transfers but now they are paying us dalasi,” she disclosed.
She said these changes prompted Forex Bureaux to halt using the western union. This reporter also has confirmed from most of the Commercial Banks in the Gambia that they are not using Western Union. The only Bank that was seen paying through Western Union is Arabic Islamic Bank.
The exchange rate as at now is US dollar buying D36 and Selling D40, British Pounds sterling Buying is D56.05 and selling at D62.00, the Euro is Buying at D40.00, and Selling at D44.00.
This reporter also attempted to access the Governor of the Central Bank once more to get his view on the foreign exchange situation and the new notes but he was indisposed at the time.