• Facts and Figures

Licensed Foreign Exchange & Remittance Companies in the UAE – End 2014

Emirates Head Office Branches Total
Abu Dhabi 30 163 193
Dubai 90 336 420
Sharjah 11 133 144
Ajman 2 31 33
Umm Al Quwain 0 6 6
Ras Al Khaima 0 25 25
Fujairah 1 22 23
Al Ain 5 41 46
Total 139 835 974

Uniqueness of Exchange Industry in the UAE
UAE’s success story as a world leader in enterprise and modernization has earned the Country great international distinction and has made it an important business, trading and tourism hotspot. His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has dedicated himself to making Dubai a leisure and entertainment capital of the world aiming to bring in 15 million tourists by the year 2015. UAE is a modern cosmopolitan Country and is home to a mixture of more than 185 ethnicities that live in a lively, international setting and has become an icon for the 21st century.

The Exchange Industry has successfully addressed the challenges of meeting the money exchange and remittance needs of their residents of various ethnicities, tourists & business communities. The unique feature of this Industry is that, unlike its counterparts across the world who deal mainly in currency exchange, whereas the exchange companies in the UAE are the primary channels for transferring large volumes of remittances through official channels. It is estimated that more than $30 billion (Dh. 110 billion) is transferred annually by expatriate workers in the UAE. Exchange companies are also important partners in the unique and prestigious "Wages Protection System" initiative Government of UAE. The Exchange Houses provide various ancillary services like Credit Cards payments, saving schemes like National Bonds, Encashment of Travelers Cheques; Salik & Mobile top ups, acceptance of payments Airline tickets etc. and strive to provide all financial services to their customers under a single roof.

Exchange Companies are the preferred choice for currency exchange and remittances needs of the customers and score over the 50 local and foreign banks. The exchange companies network extends up to over 880 branches in the country thus making it popular on account of easy accessibility, prompt & fast service at competitive charges & rates, multi-lingual staff, flexible timings and tie-ups with large number of correspondent banks and agents across the world.

Another unique feature of this Industry is that, Exchange Companies are governed by strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regulations specified and monitored by the Central Bank of the UAE. Besides complying with the regulations issued by the Central Bank from time to time, exchange companies strive to inculcate world’s best AML practices into their internal AML policies and procedures. Exchange Companies take strong initiatives to streamline their operations with the requirements on “Know Your Customer – [KYC]” & “Know your Customers customer [KYCC]”’ principles. Exchange Companies maintain highest standards to safeguard the interests of the consumers, regulators, shareholders, employees and the community in general.

Financial institutions offering money exchange and remittances services have joined hands to form an industry forum called the Foreign Exchange & Remittance Group (FERG) in the UAE.

UAE has an estimated expatriate population of over 7.3 million, accounting for over 88% of the total population of the Country (mid-2010). It is also one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations, with over 10 million annual tourist inflow. Consequently, remittances and money exchange is a booming and robust business in the UAE, catering to both the resident as well as the tourist population.

FERG, registered with Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, currently has 61 exchange houses as members. According to the Central Bank of UAE, there are 140 money exchange companies with a combined branch network of over 974 across the Emirates.

FERG’s role is to ensure implementation of best practice standards among the exchange houses in the UAE in addition to providing a platform for sharing knowledge related to the financial industry and for making their views and opinions heard and considered with the regulatory and government bodies.