Vietnam is set to receive a record US$9 billion in overseas remittances this year, up from more than $8 billion in 2010, a World Bank report says.
The estimated figure places Vietnam at number eight in the top 10 list of developing countries with the largest remittances. The top recipients are India, China, Mexico and the Philippines, according to the World Bank.
However, the bank also notes that there are some uncertainties that could affect future flows including the ongoing debt crisis in Europe, high unemployment rates in high-income countries and volatile exchange rates.
Tran Van Trung, director of the Dong A Money Transfer Company, said overseas remittances via the company reached $1.3 billion in the first 10 months despite the tough economic situation. The figure may hit $1.6 billion by the end of the year, up 20 percent from 2010, he said.
Other money transfer service providers have reported the same trend. Eximbank, for instance, said it has handled total remittances of $600 million so far, up 64 percent from the same period last year.
There are around four million Vietnamese living and working overseas. The remittances are a major source of foreign currency in Vietnam.
The flows were recorded at $8 billion last year, an unexpected increase of 25.6 percent after a 13 percent fall in 2009.
As of the end of September, overseas remittances amounted to some $7 billion, Trung of Dong A Money Transfer said, citing central bank statistics.
Nguyen Thi Nhu Ly, director of Western Union in the Indochina region, said remittance flows into Vietnam are quite stable as many people need to continue to support their families here.
Ly said the flows now originate from many countries and territories, compared to only 16 countries in 1994. This also means more people are sending money home via official channels, she said.
Experts say only 10 percent of the total overseas remittances are deposited or otherwise transacted with the Vietnamese banking system. As the central bank has tightened regulations on the foreign exchange market, more people could decide to sell the foreign currencies sent from overseas to the banks instead of using informal channels.