DUSHANBE/Dec. 4 (The Bulletin) –Tajikistan’s Central Bank blocked Koronapay and Western Union, two of the most popular money transfer services with Tajiks working in Russia, from sending cash into the country and instead insisted that people use two smaller services.
Earlier this year, the Tajik Central Bank took over control of the country’s transfer sorting system with, it now appears, the aim of controlling which services migrant workers use to send their cash home.
In a terse statement, the Tajik Central Bank said that it was only processing payments from the Unistream and Contact wire transfer systems.
“In future credit organisations will not consider the 9-digit code of the payment system Golden Crown,” it said.
Golden Crown is the brand name used by Koronapay which had sent an estimated 80% of Tajikistan’s remittances from Russia.
The following day the Central Bank published photos of a meeting with Unistream’s chief Kirill Palchun and said that commissions on wire transfers had been reduced from 1.5% to 0.99%.
Both Unistream and Contact are Russian money transfer systems but are far smaller than Western Union and Koronapay.
Analysts have said that the Tajik government may have wanted to take control of the wire transfer system because it is a lucrative cash generator. Tajiks working in Russia contribute up to half of the country’s GDP.
The Tajik Central Bank has previously said that it had taken over the transfer sorting system to protect customers from theft and corruption.
It also defended its decision to strip Koronapay and Western Union of permission to send cash from Russia because they had failed to comply with new legislation.
— This story was first published in issue 431 of the weekly Bulletin on Dec. 9 2019
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