A few weeks ago MoneyGram Germany opened its new office in the centre of Frankfurt/Main. For this purpose, MoneyGram’s CEO Alex Holmes arrived from Dallas, US. We had the chance to ask him about his views on the African continent and MoneyGram’s activities regarding “social responsibility”.
1. Mr. Holmes, in times of the refugee ‘crisis’ the media and some communities wave a bad eye on companies who might seem to utilize the situation for their purposes. What do want to tell them?
Well, first of all I think any time when there is a crisis whether it is war and famine or the weather, we always do our best to try to help in those situations. I think when it comes to disaster we can contribute that needed money can be transferred fast and free of charge into the crisis areas. In these situations we always try to work with our agent partners. What is great about our business, it’s that we always have local partners, and we try to get businesses up in operating as quickly as we can and try to help people to get money home as quickly as possible. On the topic of migration: our business is based on migration and on people moving from country A to country B, and so if we don’t participate in that and support globally our business wouldn’t make a lot of sense. We always comply with law, we don’t encourage illegal immigration and I certainly understand that the complexity and the challenges that governments face when they have a huge increase in the number of people. The governments have to take care of them, and otherwise the people do cost money, they are not allowed to work and to contribute to society. Those refugees need the opportunity to immigrate into those countries the best they can.
I don’t think that there is ever any opportunity to take advantage of because people need money, they need cash, sending money across borders is a complex thing to do, getting cash into the peoples hands instantly and fast is a really unique type of service and we don’t change our fees. I think we do a lot to support these communities.
2. How important is the African continent for MoneyGram and how do you see its future?
Of course it is really important! Obviously a huge continent with almost 30.000 MoneyGram locations at the moment, we operate in every country except Somalia which is a bit of a challenge from a regulatory and security perspective. Africa has changed a lot in the last ten years. It has become not just a receive market for us but also a sending market. A lot of the money goes either back to Western Europe or the US and South-Asia as well. Despite the continent’s history it continues to be a growth market although there were some ups and downs within certain countries. We have four big offices on the continent at the moment. Our head quarter is based in Morocco but we also have operations in a large office in Lagos where I have been a couple of months ago. We continue to do a lot on the mobile front and partner with different mobile phone suppliers to put a focus not only on the typical cash transfer services and we do a lot of other things like account-deposit services so that you can transfer money directly to bank-accounts in the receiving country.
3. Regarding the great financial engangement at events and projects for the different communities here in Germany: What else do you do for your social responsibility?
What we are the most proud of is our MoneyGram Foundation. We have done about 70 grants in 36 different countries in the last couple of years giving back several million Dollars towards education. We find that almost everyone who sends money back home wants to improve someone’s life and often times education and better opportunities for their children are really important. We try to take a part of the money that we earn every year and give it back. So it is a great organization as diverse as MoneyGram itself and I encourage everybody to check out our Website moneygramfoundation.org !