State Licensed Money Transmitters sent $4 Billion to Foreign Countries

Jan 2, 2002

SACRAMENTO – As 2001 came to a close, the State of California reports that there was a significant increase in the number of licensed transmitters of money abroad and approved agents in our state.

“We estimated transmission volume for 2000 to be $3.7 billion, it reached $4 billion and this figure doesn’t include transmissions from banks or credit unions,” said California’s Secretary for Business Regulation Maria Contreras-Sweet.

The transmitter industry is a steadily growing industry that serves many California residents who send money to the rest of the world, especially Mexico. Licensed transmitters of money abroad are a $4.0 billion dollar industry in California.

In 1990, there were 19 licensed transmitters in the state. The California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today reports 54 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 2000.

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.

“We continue to encourage consumers to shop around for the best fee and exchange rate,” said DFI Commissioner Donald R. Meyer. DFI does not regulate fees since the industry is competitive.

DFI’s Consumer Information Desk provides a toll-free telephone number, 1-800-622-0620, with information in English and Spanish. Consumers can obtain information about the institutions supervised by DFI or receive information about filing a consumer complaint. DFI coordinates the investigation process, referring complaints to the appropriate enforcement agencies.

Because this is a growing industry, DFI is actively working toward improving the TMA application process and reporting requirements, which will enhance DFI’s ability to execute its regulatory function.

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. DFI reports to Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and Governor Gray Davis.