For most people, the Wage Protection System (WPS) is largely about the timely release of UAE workers' salaries. However, what they do not realise is that it can also make the process of remitting money back home much more conventient for expatriates as well.
At the Asia Exchange Centre, for instance, labourers who are enrolled in WPS don't have to go all the way to the outlet to remit money and withdraw their salaries.
"We can go to the labour camps to distribute their salaries and workers can do their money transfers from there as well. This will be made possible by tapping into the internet or using a 3G data card," Vinod Kumar, senior manager, information technology at Asia Exchange Centre, tells Gulf News.
"That's just one of the payment options. Workers can come to the exchange house to collect and remit part of their earnings to their families, or they can withdraw their salaries through the ATM. We haven't started the ATM service yet, but we're working on it. Most probably we'll have it in place after a month or two," Kumar adds.
Developed by the UAE Central Bank, the WPS is an electronic salary transfer system that mandates firms to pay workers' wages through authorised banks, exchange houses and other financial institutions.
Authorities in the money transfer business discussed the programme, which was implemented last year, and its implications on the remittance industry at a conference in Dubai last week.
Ali Mohammad Jarallah, from the banking operation department of the UAE Central Bank, says the main objective of the WPS is to ensure salaries are not delayed.
"All disbursements will be monitored by the Ministry of Labour. This is to make sure that each employee receives his money on time. If there's any complaint, they can go to the ministry," Jarallah tells the conference.
Mohammad Al Ansari, chairman of Al Ansari Exchange, says low-income workers who may not meet the requirements needs to open a bank account are the major beneficiaries of the programme.
"This is mainly affecting the labourers. You've seen labourers on the streets protesting about their delayed salaries. So, this will address that problem. It will not have any impact on employees with average or high salaries, who naturally have bank accounts," Al Ansari explains in an interview.
In simple terms, he says, the programme enabled a third party, which could either be a bank or an exchange house, to release the wages of employees.
"There are different methods of payment. Exchange houses are looking at providing an ATM machine dedicated for this, among other things. The salary can also be released over the counter or by visiting labour camps," Al Ansari adds.
He also saiys that any extra charges that the third party will decide to collect should be shouldered by the employer.
AVERAGE REMITTANCE PRICES IN UAE ($)
Average total cost Receiving country Fee Exchange rate margin (%) Per cent USD ($)
Pakistan 3.72 2.31 4.17 8.34
India 6.41 1.12 4.32 8.64
Philippines 6.44 2.31 5.53 11.07
Sri Lanka 4.08 4.3 6.34 12.67
Egypt 7.28 3.13 6.77 13.54
Source: World Bank. Note: Figures are for sending $200 as of Q3 2009. Corridor averages are unweighted and do not reflect the market shares of the different firms that compose the average.