An exclusive interview with Mark Perryman, MoneyGram Regional Director – UK and Ireland
The Promota Magazine: What is your role at MoneyGram?
Mark Perryman: I am Senior Regional Director, MoneyGram International. I am ultimately responsible for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service in the UK, Ireland and the Nordics. I joined MoneyGram in 2004.
PM: MoneyGram is always the favorite of African Diasporas for their good service. What do you think has made MoneyGram unique?
MP: MoneyGram money transfers are fast, safe, secure and reliable. Our fees are highly competitive, and we work hard to offer the best pay out rates to receivers. Our fees and rates are very clear, and receivers don’t pay a fee when they collect their money. Our service is highly convenient with over 256,000 agent locations throughout the world, so there is always a location nearby. Money typically arrives in just 10 minutes. You don’t need to have a bank account to use our services. In the UK, customers can send money from any Post Office, any Thomas Cook or Going Places travel agency, and anywhere you see the MoneyGram sign. With nearly 13,000 locations, we have the largest money transfer network in the UK. We know how hard you work for your money – that’s why we keep our fees low, so your money goes even further.
MP: We are passionate about giving back to communities. MoneyGram International has long been associated with Africa. One example is the way in which we sponsor events/activities that will benefit our African customers at home or in the Diaspora. Another example is that it costs just £4.99 to send up to £100.00 to Uganda and money typically arrives within 10 minutes. For our Ugandan customers present at this year’s Uganda Independence Day celebrations at “Ange Mystique” Old Kent Road, London we know they all enjoyed themselves! MoneyGram sponsored this event and the turnout was really great, which speaks for itself.
Additionally, as part of our commitment to Africa, we recently donated $50,000 to UNICEF programme area: child survival and development initiatives in Africa and emergency relief efforts in the drought and famine affected countries of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti in East Africa. We know the Horn of Africa is facing the worst drought in 60 years, and we want to be there to support.
Also, in Nigeria, we recently awarded scholarships to 10 female students at tertiary institutions. These scholarships were awarded in Benin City (Southern Nigeria). The winners were drawn from the University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University, as well as Ekpoma and Auchi Polytechnic. The young women were presented with cheques, which will cover the cost of tuition, books and accommodation.
“Gear Up for School” is another campaign MoneyGram just concluded in October. During this campaign, we gave out school packs with pencils, pens, notepads, water bottles as well as laptop computers. The three countries that mainly benefited from these initiatives were Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia. As before, we know the importance of supporting the local communities, which is why we try and sponsor as many African events as we can, right across the UK.
PM: Is there any innovative product or service we can expect during 2012 to enhance Diaspora remittance experience to Africa?
MP: We are constantly looking at ways in which we could enhance remittance experience both from send and receive side. There are a number of new additions planned for 2012 that I will be delighted to share with you at the appropriate time. We are excited that 2012 is going to be a year of wonderful surprises for all our customers at home and abroad.
PM: We are seeing mass emigration of Africans going back to Africa from the Diaspora; does this worry you as those who remit money are going back?
MP: I hadn’t seen this claim before, and I have to say that I would like to see the evidence to support it.
Africans have always travelled to and fro between the UK and Africa, so I don’t think that this is anything new. For every person who might go home to retire or set up a business, students arrive to further their education, or other Africans arrive to take advantage of job opportunities.
Despite the tough UK economy, our remittances to Africa are increasing steadily, so I believe that the size of the Diaspora in the UK is remaining constant.
PM: Convenience and security is now the core determinant for choosing a money transfer agent. New innovative methods like mobile money (M-Pesa), online transfer are now in operation in the UK. Is MoneyGram thinking of taking advantage of new innovative technology to offer a convenient and better service?
MP: We are constantly evaluating adaptation of our service to give our customers the best proposition and value for money that we can. As I have said, we plan some innovations in 2012, so watch this space!
However, with more than 95% of the UK population living within one mile of a MoneyGram location, we uniquely offer our customers a highly convenient service. Customers trust us as MoneyGram has approved Payment Institution status, is regulated by both the Financial Service Authority (FSA), Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and ring fences customers funds for added security. As a company, MoneyGram is over 70 years old, and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. MoneyGram is the exclusive supplier of money transfer services to the Post Office, Thomas Cook and Going Places, three of the UK’s most trusted organization. These facts should assure customers that the MoneyGram is very secure and trusted.
PM: The year is coming to an end. What has been MoneyGram’s achievement in this year gone by?
MP: Personally I am most proud that more and more customers are choosing MoneyGram to transfer their hard earned money to Africa. There is a lot of competition in the UK, so for increasing numbers of people to choose us is very flattering and humbling. This motivates my team and I to work even harder to deliver an even better service in 2012.
Globally our network increased by 24% to 256,000 locations, which means that we can provide an even more convenient service.
Finally, MoneyGram won the award for the best money transfer company to Ghana at the Ghanaian UK-based Achievers (GUBA) Awards in November.
PM: Financial remittances provide a lifeline for many of Africa’s poorest. At the micro-level remittance has become a much needed and reliable source of stable income to many marginalized families, extended families and local community groups. Do you think the flow of remittance from Africans in the Diaspora is sustainable?
MP: A recent publication by the World Bank shows that the remittance trend to Africa has continued to rise. Migrants’ remittances have become an important source of external finances for the African continent.
Many Africans in Diaspora are passionate about helping and supporting loved ones back home while for others, it is about investing in capital projects, stock, bonds etc. Despite economic pressures in the UK, the Diaspora continues to send money home. We envisage that remittance to Africa will continue to grow for a long period.
PM: Any word of wisdom to your customers?
MP: I will like to encourage them to continue to use our services as they’ve been doing. We on our side will continue to improve our services with more innovative and convenient ways to send and receive money. For example, as part of our commitment to our customers this festive season, we are giving lots of gifts to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Some of our give- aways to our customers sending money to Africa include 42 Inch Plasma TVs, Blackberry Smart phones and other exciting prizes. To enter for this draw, simply visit www.moneygram.co.uk/christmas for further details.
As MoneyGram is such an effective means to send money, sometimes fraudsters target members of the public, and try to trick them into sending a MoneyGram transfer for a bogus purpose. Beware of these scams and don’t send money to someone you don’t know. Please visit our new website for more information about how to protect yourself from falling victim to a scam. The address is http://www.moneygram-preventfraud.com/
PM: Funding and empowering Diaspora entrepreneur is the new initiative adopted by your biggest competitor Western Union in a scheme called “African Diaspora Marketplace” in partnership with USAID. Does MoneyGram has any scheme that encourage innovation, job growth and development in Africa?
MP: As I said earlier, MoneyGram is constantly re-investing in Africa – one of which is the donation of $50,000 to UNICEF program areas: child survival and development initiative in Africa. We strongly believe in giving back to the community as part of our continuous Corporate Social Responsibility as an organization. This donation formed part of our relief effort to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti all in East Africa.
The MoneyGram service is now available at over 17,000 locations across Africa via our agent partners. In Uganda, these include Bank of Africa Uganda, Buddu FxB, Housing Finance Bank, DFCU, Metropolitan Forex Bureau, Prime Forex Bureau, Stanhope Finance Company, and Orient Bank Limited. By offering the MoneyGram service, this creates jobs for Africans within our agent partner network, and stimulates the local economy to the benefit of all.