Are migrant workers in Jordan ready for digital remittances ?

October 2019

Simone Troller, Regional Advisor Migration & Development Middle East, SDC GPMD,

Introduced in Jordan only three years ago, digital financial services present important new opportunities for the approximately one million migrant workers in the country, including for digital remittances. But are migrant workers demanding these new services? And are they ready for these? SDC decided to find out and has commissioned DMAG to assess demands among three distinct groups of migrants in Jordan: Filipina domestic workers, Egyptian migrant workers, and garment factory workers from Asia. First insights from the Filipina and Egyptian communities are now available.

Profile of target communities

Egyptian Participants

For the study, the DMAG team have been researching Egyptian migrants working in the construction, agriculture or security services. All of the participants interviewed were male between the ages of 20 and 50.  The majority were informal workers who were picked up by construction projects each morning at designated meeting points. While the majority of workers were employed on an informal basis, their immigration status in Jordan varied.

The majority of Egyptian migrant workers were cautious of the research, quite unwilling to provide any personal details. Overall, the Egyptians interviewees were sceptical of formal financial services.

Filipina Participants

TheFilipina migrants interviewed were domestic workers, the majority being housekeepers. All the interviewees were female between the ages of 30 and 50. All of the Filipina participants were formal workers earning between 250-500 USD per month. All sent remittances.

Unlike the Egyptian participants, Filipina participants were very keen to take part in the study, with queues forming to be interviewed. The majority of participants had basic financial education from the Philippines and therefore a better understanding of formal financial services.

Figure 1: Question 43 from the survey (Filipina and Egyptian communities combined)

Figure 2: Question 42 from the survey (Filipina and Egyptian communities combined)

Remittances habits

Egyptian Participants

Of the 150 Egyptian participants interviewed, 99 percent sent money in the last year, with 90 percent sending money each month. The vast majority (97 percent) of transactions take place over the counter at an agent location. The Egyptian community interviewed mostly sends money to their parents with 96% receiving in cash. The main use of the funds being sent is for domestic use (food, bills etc.)


Filipina Participants

For the 100 Filipina participants engaged in this study, 100% sent money home, of which 95% sent via cash. The main receivers were the children of women working in Jordan and 93% received the funds in cash. When interviewed during focus groups, the main reason for sending money home was for education for their children, particularly university education. Since the majority of Filipina housekeepers live in the house of their employer, they are able to send between 70-80 percent of their salaries to their children.

Figure 3: Question 14 from the survey (Filipina and Egyptian communities combined)

Figure 4: Question 6 from the survey (Filipina and Egyptian communities combined)

Access to financial services

Egyptian Community

All of the participants were paid in cash, either on a weekly or monthly basis. None of the participants had a bank account (or any form of financial service), either in the country of origin or in Jordan.  There was very little interest in accessing a formal financial service, with particpants stating that they are very content with the cash service.


Filipina Community

For the Filipina community, 48% of the community have bank accounts either in their home country or in Jordan. The main reason that 52% did not have a bank account is because they felt that they did not need one. With the second highest reason being that they did not have enough money. However, there was some interest in a broader range of financial products when it came to formal finances.

Figure 5: Question 56 from the survey (Filipina and Egyptian communities combined*)

 *only 4 percent of those who answered 'yes' were from the Egyptian community

Figure 6: Question 60 from the survey (Filipina and Egyptian communities combined)

Relationship with cash

Egyptian Community

As mentioned, the Egyptian community all used cash exclusively. The understanding and awareness of digital channels was very limited. Further, once explained, there was no desire for change. The idea of mobile money was not something that participants were familiar with.


The Filipina Community

Whilst the Filipina community mostly used cash to send remittances in their daily lives, there was an awareness and understanding of digital forms. Particularly online banking. However, there was also still very limited knowledge on mobile money, with only a few participants having heard of it.

‚ÄčFigure 7: Question 54 from the survey (Filipina and Egyptian communities combined)

Across the two communities, the main concern with moving from cash-based to digital is the safety and security of their money, with fraud being a particular fear and providing resistance to change.

The DMAG team are currently completing data collection as well as developing recommendations based on the results. It is clear that financial literacy training programs should be developed targeting both communities. As it pertains to salary payments and the level of formal financial services usage, there appears to be an opportunity to leverage outbound remittance transactions as a means of encouraging the adoption of cheaper, more efficient channels.

Overall, the initial research has provided the DMAG team with some very interesting results, the full report with findings will be made available during Q1 2020.