State Announces Significant Increase in Licensed Transmitters of Money Abroad and Agents

Mar 19, 2001

The transmitter industry is a steadily growing industry that serves many California residents who send money to other countries. Licensed transmitters of money abroad are a $3.7 billion dollar industry in California. In 1990, there were 19 licensed transmitters in the state. The Department today reports 52 licensed transmitters. In addition, there were 1,053 approved agents and branches of agents in 1990. The number of approved agents and branches of agents rose to 11,546 in June of 2000.

The DFI Special Licensees Division licenses and regulates transmitters of money abroad. During 1999, the Department’s transmitter licensees forwarded $3.1 billion from California to foreign countries, up $500 million or 19.2 percent from the $2.6 billion reported in 1998.

“The estimated transmission volume for 2000 is $3.7 billion,” reports DFI Commissioner Donald R. Meyer.

DFI enforces a disclosure statute that requires transmitters to provide customers with a receipt with the name of the licensee, the amount paid by the consumer, the fee charged, and the retail exchange rate given to the consumer. The DFI does not regulate fees since the industry is competitive. “DFI encourages consumers to shop around for the best fee and exchange rate,” added Commissioner Meyer.

Last November, the Department announced that a new form was available on its Web site for reporting information concerning unlicensed transmitters of money abroad. Placing the form conveniently on the Internet improved the public’s access to filing a complaint regarding unlicensed operators. DFI coordinates the investigation process, referring complaints to the appropriate enforcement agencies.

In addition, the Department provides a Consumer Information Desk with a toll free telephone number, 1-800-622-0620, to obtain information about the institutions supervised or to receive information about filing a consumer complaint.

The Department of Financial Institutions is responsible for administering the State’s laws regulating state-licensed banks, state-licensed savings and loans, trust companies, state-licensed offices of foreign banks, issuers of travelers checks and payment instruments (money orders), transmitters of money abroad, state-licensed credit unions, and state-licensed industrial banks. The department reports to Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and Governor Gray Davis.