Transforming cross-border payments in MaldivesDecember 1, 2023
Bank of Maldives (BML) is a full-service bank and the leading financial institution in the Maldives. Partnering with Mastercard Mastercard Cross-Border Services, BML plays a pivotal role as an engine of growth and a partner for success for thousands of individuals, families and businesses in the country.
Maldives is comprised of over 1,190 islands, about 200 of which are inhabited. 164 islands are developed as tourist resorts, and the rest are either used for agricultural and industrial purposes or left in their natural state. Cross-border remittances are one of the most important banking services for people in the country because of:
- the high resident foreigner population, which stands around 190 thousand and has shown strong rebound post-COVID, and
- monthly outbound travel of 10 thousand to 15 thousand Maldivians for purposes including tourism, medical treatment and education.
Meeting the need for seamless cross-border services
Mastercard Cross-Border Services (XBS) has been working with BML to power its remittance services in Maldives since 2018. Across Asia Pacific, Mastercard XBS has been a key enabler for banks to quickly ramp up their own cross-border payment network through a single, secure connection that opens access to more than 140 countries and 70+ currencies, unlocking new revenue streams and mitigating the friction points in international payments.
By making the most of these capabilities, BML is delivering a more secure, transparent and fast service compared to incumbent providers, and is offering choice in cross-border payments in terms of:
- Method of payment delivery, including bank deposits, cash and mobile wallet payments
- Speed, with instant/near real-time funds delivery to all important destination markets
- Transparency in costs, payment status and amounts delivered to beneficiaries
BML’s Mobile Banking App is currently the most widely used remittance service for thousands of retail customers. The bank has ensured its relevance and success by launching new destination markets based on customer feedback, delivering value to its senders through periodical promotional campaigns, and making constant updates to its internet banking portal and app. BML has recently added China and USA to the list of countries enabled on its money transfer service available on mobile banking app.
Improving cross-border payments while maintaining their safety and security will boost international trade, global development, and financial inclusion. BML has helped implement many initiatives oriented towards these goals. Device management for internet and mobile banking along with self-service “kill switches” that disable access to internet banking and cards in emergencies are two enhanced security measures BML has taken to protect its customers from scams. The bank has also made trade and development easier by extending the cut-off time for international transfers and offering self-service banking via ATM centers.
Badhurudheen Hassan, head of retail banking and cards, Bank of Maldives commented, “A remittance service that is fast, secure and accessible is a key part of our vision to be the bank of choice in Maldives, whether it is for individuals or businesses. Mastercard Cross-Border Services has been a trusted partner in helping us deliver a market leading solution that is used by Maldivians and expats from over 45 countries. The strong value proposition has helped the business grow three-fold in the past three years.”
Anticipating the next wave of demand
Having solved for the remittance needs of Maldivians and resident foreigners in the islands, BML’s sights are set on transforming the way SMEs pay for their cross-border procurement. There's around $1.5 billion imports to Maldives from neighboring countries in the Middle East and Asia. With an estimated $6 trillion Asia Pacific SME cross-border GDV opportunity1 and $200 billion overall global B2B payments revenue,2 there's big business for providers that're able to meet their customers' needs.
SMEs are often underserved with regards to banking services, and this has a direct impact on their cost of operations and ability to innovate. BML sees it as imperative to deliver the same transformative cross-border payment experience to SME clients that it does to individual customers.
This can help unlock working capital and cost efficiencies for SMEs. More importantly, it provides these businesses with choice to use the payment service that best serves their specific situation – whether that be a USD wire payment or local payment in the currency of a supplier, with clear visibility of costs and delivery timings.
The next step will be working with Mastercard to roll out a market-leading solution for its SME clients in 2024.
1McKinsey & Company, Global Payments Report 2019.
2McKinsey & Company, Global Payments Report 2023.