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A Visit to the Balkans: Ria Hosts Conference in Tirana, Albania

What do Novak Djokovic, Mother Teresa, and Edin Džeko have in common? All had representatives from their native countries present at the Xheko Imperial Hotel in Tirana, Albania, the venue for Ria’s 2018 Balkans Conference.

The Ria Operations team held their Annual Partners event at the Balkans to discuss marketing strategies, business opportunities and innovation in the sector.

Members of Ria Italy, UK, France, Benelux, Sweden, Spain and Australia participated in an open dialog alongside payment institutions from Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and hosts Albania.

The Ria 2018 Balkans Conference offered a chance for all involved to exchange ideas and bond over challenges and opportunities the business has faced so far this year.

This type of event allows us to see gain first-hand insight on the needs of the market and region, allowing us to devise targeted strategies that help us improve our service and foster our relationship with partners and customers.

To continue basking in the positive spirit of the event, we’re sharing with our readers the main takeaways on the money transfer business in the Balkans as gathered by our speakers.

Overview of Remittances in the Balkans

  • Albania counts with 1.15 million expats who supported 26% of local families in 2017 through €1.16 billion received through remittances last year. Its main corridors are Italy and the United Kingdom, accounting for 53% of the total transactions.1
  • Around 2 million Bosnians live abroad, with 30% of expats staying within the Balkans and another 50% migrating to Europe. Croatia and Serbia, followed by Germany, are the biggest sending countries to Bosnia, totaling USD$803 million in 2016.2
  • Last year, Bulgaria received €2.2 million through 83,000 money transfers. Around 70% of all transactions originated in Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.3
  • One-third of Kosovo’s population lives abroad. A million Kosovars are spread out around Europe, with 50% finding a home in Germany and another 20% in Switzerland. These two countries are top corridors for Kosovo, accounting for 64.9% of total remittances to the Balkan nation. In 2017, Kosovo received close to USD$760 million in remittances. Money transfer agencies saw 49.5% of these remittances, with the figure remaining stable so far in 2018.4
  • There are over 2 million Serbian expats, most of which live in the United States and Germany. However, the highest transaction volume comes from the expats in Switzerland (42%). Around 68% of expats are considered permanently departed from the country, while another 21% comes and goes for seasonal work.5

Alla Shelest, Head of Business Development for CEE & CIS Countries, commented on the Ria 2018 Balkans Conference: “I’m thankful to our partners for the fruitful, constructive and open discussion we were able to establish at this conference. Their valuable and loyal cooperation, their willingness to work together with us, is what helps us provide the best service to our mutual customers.”

Visiting our partners and taking the time to truly experience the environment of the regions we work with is what allows us to make decisions for the benefit of both our colleagues and our clients. It’s what makes the Ria difference.

1 Bank of Albania 2 PeW Global 3 EasyPay Bulgaria 4 Capital Institucion Financiar JB 5 World Bank Group

 

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