Tag Archives: remittance

You would be “Out of Money” 80% of days if you transferred money to India in 2015

The last few days of Chinese New year holidays allowed me to spend some time on SGD INR analysis. I always had a feeling that transferring money to Indian specially with a view to play on the interest rate differential would not have been beneficial in the last year and I had to test my feeling against some actual numbers.
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I took the average investable Tax Free NRE FD rate as 8% and cost of transferring money as 1%. The interest that someone could earn in Singapore was taken as average of 2% (DBS Multiplier, OCBC 360, UOB One or some money market funds) which brought the effective interest rate differential as 6% (8% – 2%).

There might be a few of you who could have got slightly better NRE FD rates and also managed a better transfer rate, however in my observation banks or transfer services usually charge anywhere between 0.8% to 1.5% as remittance fee. This fee could be charged as a out right fee or built into the exchange rate that they offer you. Similarly I took the cost of transferring money back from India as 1% as well though people tell me it can be close to 2%. I have personally never transferred money from India so just went in with the 1% charge.

The result of number crunching vindicated my gut feel  – there were only  39 days in 2015 (around 11%) which provided a better return if someone transferred money to India, invested in NRE FD and transferred it back to Singapore as compared to keeping money in Singapore and starting to transfer to India once SGD INR crossed 47.50.

Interestingly of those 39 days 12 were in Jan 2015 and remaining between 24th April to 22 May and few in mid June.

The number of days went up to 62 (around 20%) if the person decided to leave money in India instead of bringing it back but the period of transfer remained in first half of the year.

Anyone who panicked and transferred money since July would be “out of money” based on today’s DBS remittance rate of 48.50 (Market rate around 48.90).

Of-course the rates can and will change in the coming days and a few more days of 2015 might become “In the money” but I would rather transfer around 48 than at 46 – it translates to gains of around 5%.

SGD INR 2015

 

 

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Best options to Transfer Money from Singapore to India

With the jump in SGD INR the question of what is the best way to transfer money to India becomes important and has been asked a few times. My conclusion before today’s analysis was that DBS remit gives the best rates with the smoothest transaction experience. However in such a competitive market innovations and better pricing is expected and ICICI Bank with its new offering beats competition by a mile.

At the time of comparison the Spot SGD INR was 47.75 and below table shows how the 3 services which offer confirmed Rate transfer compared:

Service 3000 5000 10000 15000 20000
Money2India 47.18 47.35 47.48 47.52 47.54
DBS Remit 47.22 47.22 47.22 47.22 47.22
SBI Remit 47.3 47.3 47.3

As you can see for amounts 5000 SGD or more money2india had a substantially better rate than the competition and that happens because they have started charging 25SGD flat fee and reduced currency spreads. The rate money2india used was 47.66 and the results above are shows after taking the 25sgd fee and service charges into account.

Ofcourse the rates offered by money2india would change throughout the day but for transferring amounts greater than 5000 this would be my service of choice (the only other way to get a better rate is if you can find someone who wants SGD and would give you INR and deal at spot)

Couple of things to Note for Money2India transfer Service

1. Only allows upto 400,000 Rs equivalent to be transferred per day using the fixed rate service.

2. The rate is updated around 12:00 noon Singapore time

3.  Has a internal daily limit i.e. if the amount they have allocated for a day has been reached customers are refused transfers

I would have expected that there be no limit on amounts being transferred. With these limits it feels that money2india wants to only have small transactions so that they can earn more transfer fee. The rate still is better than DBS but as a customer I find these limits back door way of giving less to customers.

Update: Money2India no longer has fixed fee transfer service and the rates offered are not as good as SBI or DBS. For comparison of rates please refer to the widget on right or at the bottom (when using a phone)

RBI Cuts Benchmark Rates – Now What?

The much talked about interest rate cut finally happened today. RBI Governor keeping true to his character surprised the markets with an earlier than expected cut taking India on a path different from Russia and Brazil where central banks have increased the benchmark rates in the past few weeks.

I must say it’s a brilliant move by the Governor to put the ball back into Finance Ministers court and push for structural fiscal reforms in the upcoming budget. The general sentiment has been that the higher rates are keeping India from growing which overshadows the fundamental issues of red tape, poor infrastructure and wastage in public expenditure.

The sustained fall in oil prices (thank Russia for occupying Crimea) has given India the much-needed window to push through reforms without being worried about stroking uncontrolled inflation.

The question is that will this rate cut and structural reforms be enough to achieve the targeted growth? No, absolutely not. The other key factor, which should not be ignored, is the exchange rate of the rupee against other currencies. To recap the last year – Rupee has oscillated between 58 and 63.5 against the US dollar (I use USD as a benchmark because the other rates are nothing but a cross rate). The fall in rupee has been less pronounced as compared to its Asian peers like the Malaysian Ringgit, Indonesian Rupiah, Singapore Dollar, Korean Won etc. On the global front, the Yen, Euro and Pound have also dropped sharply against the USD resulting in net gains by the Rupee against these currencies as well.

While the gains in Rupee boost the feel good factor about the India story – is a sustained gain in Rupee the right thing for the Indian economy? My take is that RBI would not let Rupee gain beyond the 62 mark to keep the exports competitive. There was evidence of this when RBI was seen buying dollars in the last week when Rupee gained sharply. With a generally weaker Rupiah, Ringgit, Peso and Riel the Indian exports would face tough competition in areas like garments, IT services, food grains and other manufacturing. Also with Euro and Pound weakening the demand from European countries would decline if the goods are not priced competitively.

With crude oil staying below 50, I think RBI would target the Rupee around 65 against the USD (at-least that’s would I would do, if I were the RBI governor). That would be a roughly 5% decline from the current levels and will bring it at par with other countries with export competitiveness. A sharp gain in the currency would negate any benefit that the lower oil prices would have and I don’t think the RBI or the finance minister would want that.

We should not forget that infrastructure reforms do not happen overnight and take years to fully have the desired impact.

What would that do to SGD INR – 45 mark would remain as the strong support for the pair with upside of Rs.50, but of-course remitting money to India and investing in NRE deposits would always remain a good option.

SGD INR: 50 with SG@50?

Ever since the Prime Minister Modi came to power the feel good factor about Indian economy and India has increased dramatically. All Indians, including me, are rooting for improved Indian economy – infrastructure reforms, streamlining of tax code, improved law and order and not to forget getting back the black money stashed in overseas accounts. The expectation also is for the Rupee to strengthen as reforms kick in and help kick-start the much-anticipated economic growth.

The past few months have seen the pair oscillating between the 46-49 range and the volatility in the forex markets has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. The pair dropped all the way to 46.5 after  the elections and bumped back up towards 49 only to test 46.5 again as the oil prices slid in the international markets (I was expecting a 45 floor as mentioned in replies to questions in the previous post).

SGD INR Dec 2014

INR has weakened against the USD to 63 as I had written earlier in (SGD INR: Post Election Euphoria) but interestingly SGD has also weakened in tandem. At one point in time the fall in SGD was greater as compared to INR and caused SGD INR to test 46.5.

Oil has fallen dramatically in the past few weeks and raised concerns of Central Banks not being able to meet their inflation targets prompting talk about monetary easing. A falling oil is good for India’s Forex reserves which has lent some support to the Rupee. On the other hand though the market sentiment remained weak as India’s trade deficit widened to one-and-a-half year high of $16.86 billion in November due to over six-fold jump in gold imports. Trade deficit in November last year was $9.57
billion.

The key events in play as I write are:

  1. Falling oil Prices and the rout of Rouble
  2. Bank of Japan’s push to achieve 2% inflation
  3. Expectation of FED rate hike in 2015

Falling oil prices can make the FED hold on to rate hike and also bring strength to SGD as the safe haven theory comes back into play. My expectation is for the Singapore Dollar to appreciate back to sub 1.30 level and Indian rupee to move upto 65 level which would bring the SGD INR back at the magical 50 mark in time for Singapore’s 50th birthday

 

SGD INR: Post the Election Euphoria

Time flies and it’s already June – I can’t believe that the last I wrote about INR was in February and whole world was speculating on the outcome of the Indian elections. I did not expect the BJP to win with a full majority given the polarisation of votes, combined with regional politics and was expecting a hung parliament. 

Based on that I had predicted that the Rupee would fall back to the 63 mark against the USD and 50 against the SGD (SGD INR: A storm in making). However, to my delight, the BJP did get a full majority. This meant that the uncertainty of a hung parliament and issues cropping up from coalition government were instantly non issues.

The markets reacted favorably to a government formed by progressive and reform oriented leaders and pushed the Indian Sensex to all time highs of over 25,000 and Rupee appreciated quite quickly to the Rs.58 mark against the USD. With many a Indians residing in foreign countries who remit money to India the obvious question was – Is the rupee headed to 55 against USD and should I transfer money to India now?

My answer to many such questions was – “the fundamentals of the economy don’t change overnight just with a stable government and the real effect of policy changes would take months to materialise and I still expect Rupee to stay over the 60 mark against the USD”

One of the first places to start when looking at fundamentals is Implied Exchange Rate calculation. Over the past years the spot rate has tended towards the Implied Rate Line (chart below: using SGD INR)

SGD INR 2014

and the calculation suggests that the SGD INR would move back towards the upward trending implied exchange rate line as the RBI is going to hold the interest rates steady – the inflation is still alarmingly high.

Other factors that would be playing against the Indian Rupee would be:

1. Crop losses due to el Nino weather changes

2. Increase in price of crude if the tensions in Iraq escalate

3. Global slow down in the background Ukraine crisis and escalation in South China sea

As I write the Indian rupee has already crossed the 60 mark against the USD and 48 against the SGD and I maintain that the INR would move towards the 63 and 50 mark against the USD and SGD in coming months.

The Fall and Rise of Indian Rupee: 45 days to lows, 45 to recovery

What a roller coaster ride the past 3 months have been!

The rupee was trading at 48.6 against in the US dollar on 31st Oct 2011 and precipitated to touch 53.70 on 15 Dec 2011, a 10% drop. These were the historic lows for the currency and with RBI’s policy changes the rate as I write is 50 against the dollar with RBI reducing the CRR rate and rupee gaining 7% from the lows.

Inflation, falling growth numbers, uncertainity in Europe (which by the way still exists) and political roadblocks to financial reform were stated as the reasons for the weakness. All the reasons held resposible for rupees weakness are still there. Yes, inflation has eased a bit but thats pretty much the only change.

Among numerous suggestions aired to aid the rupee was for RBI to conduct open market purchases in style of Indonesian Central bank which burnt 8-9% of its foreign reserves to stabilise the rupiah. RBI however refrained and relaxed rules to make term deposits attractive for Non Residents Indians – and NRI’s did bring in money into India.

Lets see how has rupee faired against the other currencies in the past 90 days

Surprised – right!! You did not expect to see these numbers, neither did I.

Interestingly after 3 months the INR has returned back to almost where it started against all major currencies and even managed a small gain against GBP and EUR

Against the USD the losses are paltry 2.6% which is close to long term volatility number. JPY on the other hand does come up as unexpected top winner against the Rupee with gains of 3.4%, but the real numbers are the ones shown in the last column.

Extreme volatility is what the data screams – with rupee having lost over 10% against USD and JPY and over 5% against the other pairs.

Question now would be are we expecting another such bout of swings in the market?

I would say unlikely unless a sovereign default event happens.

and how about the direction of Rupee?

I am putting my money on a stable to moderately strong outlook. The RBI has held the repo rates, the CRR ratio has come down and with a weakened currency there should be a a bigger impetus on exports which should all be Rupee positive. However the political instability and global financial turmoil could more than negate any positive factors so 49 – 51 against the USD is what I would  be looking at till end of 1st quarter.

If Singapore heads to a Technical Recession what happens to SGD INR??

Market has been rife about Singapore heading into a technical recession in 3rd Quarter of 2011. Prime Minister has revised the overall growth outlook downwards in the National Day speech and there has been a steady decline in the Electronics Export and other trading activities.

A technical recession occurs when a economy experiences negative growth for 2 consecutive quarters. To spur the economic growth I would expect the fiscal authority to ease out the rise in Singapore dollar to make exports more competetive. Lets look at what happened in  the last technical recession of 2008.

The Singapore dollar depreciated 14% against the USD and moved from 1.35 to 1.54 in a span of 6 months!!

Now what does this mean for SGD-INR that is had a spectacular run of 9% annualised appreaciation in past 4 years?

Simply speaking the SGD INR is a cross pair between SGD-USD and USD-INR therefore a weakening of SGD against USD would result in a decline in SGD – INR. The current USD-INR rate is 46.25 and SGD-USD is at 1.203. To get a better view lets see what happened to USD INR in the same period where SGD fell against the USD

USD – INR moved to 51.5  from 42 in the same time frame which is a gain of 20%.

Scenario 1

Using the two gain numbers of 14% and 20% the USD-SGD pair should move to 1.37 from 1.20 as of today and USD-INR would touch 55.5. The cross rate usinf these calculations would come out to 40.51 for SGD – INR.

I am sure all who have SGD holdings would get all excited seeing the figure, but before getting too excited lets look at other possibilities.

Scenario 2

The INR going beyond 50 mark will spell trouble for the Indian economy specially if the Oil prices remain around the $80 mark and the Reserve bank of India would intervene to stem  the rise. So a possible future rate where the SGD weakens 14% the cross rate would come out to 36.50.

Scenario 3

Another possibility is that the SGD depreciates around 7-8% and moves to the 1.30 mark then SGD INR would be at the 38.46, assuming that INR moves to 50 against the USD which is also the current rate.

Now lets throw in the Interest Rate of 10% for Term Deposits in India – for a 6 month period from the current rate of 38.4 any money invested in India would yield 40.32 in target rate (tax free) which is close to the rates in scenario 1. On a post tax basis the amount would grow to yield 39.74.

So we have the facts lined up and no matter what the scenario is, repatriating money to India makes a lot of sense.

SGD/INR – Has anything really changed??

 

Its been almost a year since I wrote anything on SGD INR or for that matter anything else. With the rate hovering around 35 there have been quite a few requests for me to express my views and here is my opinion.

How has the Past Analysis fared?

In my last post  (10th May 2010) I had recommended that converting SGD to INR at 33+ mark as it is beneficial based on Interest Rate Parity:

  1. Interest Rate on secured deposits  in India was 8% or more making conversion attractive and
  2.  The expectation was a downward movement from then rate of 32.4 against one SGD to Rs.30 giving additional gains

The first part of analysis held good but the rate moved opposite  – towards the Rs. 35 mark.

The instant question that comes to mind is Did I lose if I converted to INR instead of holding SGD’s?

The answer is NO. As per recommendation the pair moved to 33.29 within 2 weeks of recommendation on 21 May 2010. One Dollar coverted to INR @ 33.29 for 1 year and invested @ 8% would grow to 35.95 which is less than todays interbank rate of 35.85

Whats the recommendation for upcoming months?

I am going to stick with my recommendation that converting SGD to INR is beneficial in all situations and one would not loose by repartriating money to India and parking in fixed deposits.

The Interest Rates have strenghthened to 9.5% as of today and conversion has become even more attractive. To substantiate – lets say we convert 1 SGD @ 35.85  now and invest @ 9.5%, it will grow to 39.25 in one years time. Would SGD INR touch 39.25 in one year? Unlikely!!

SGD INR rate is a cross between USD-INR and USD-SGD for which the current rate is 44.25 and 1.235 respectively. For SGD INR to fetch 39.25 in a year the USD-SGD would have to move to 1.13, assuming that there is no change to USD INR.

Consensus on the street is that USD-SGD could move up to 1.19 by October 2011. Even if INR weakens to 46 against the USD the possible rate would be  38.65 after a year which is lesser than what you get by investing in a Fixed Deposit.

How do I decide when is a good time to convert?

Exchange rates do not move linearly and with the volatility its difficult to know if its a good time to convert. Also at the request of few readers I have added the dimension of taxability of interest income @ 30%. The below graph shows the movement of SGD INR for the past 2 years.

Two important observations are:

  1. SGD INR has stayed below the Tax Adjusted Implied Rate (TAIR) line except 2 occasions
  2. Its beneficial to convert to INR whenever the actual rate moves away positively from the TAIR.

On 13 Sep 2009 the TAIR was 32.94 and Actual Rate was 33.94, Actual Rate moved back to TAIR of 33.01 on 4 Oct 2009. On 30 Jan 2011 the Actual Rate was 35.81 against the TAIR of 35.49 and the two converged to 35.53 by 6 Feb 2011.

The chart below shows the prediction based on curent exchange rate of 35.85, Interest rate of 8.5% till 30 June 2011 and 9% after that till 31 Dec 2011, tax of 30% and Start of Year Rate of 34.96:

 

The expectation is that with the Singapore elections on 7 May 2011 the SGD might appreciate quickly towards 1.19 against the USD giving a possible rate of 36.5 in next 2 weeks. If this happens you know what to do!!

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Update – 30 May 2011

The Interbank Rate moved up to 36.55 today – target achieved. There is a slight possibility of the pair flirting with 37 levels but 36.5 is a good rate to convert.

 

Immigrant Population and cost of remittance

In the new flattened world the mobility of labour is at levels never seen before in history. You would find people from Philippines working in US and Saudi Arabia and so would be workers from Suriname working in Netherlands. A general trend is people from poor or developing countries moving to the greener pastures of Developed countries to break free from poverty and lower standards of life. These workers are contributors to the home countries forex reserves as well as the improved living conditions of their families.
World Bank maintains an intersting stastic of cost of sending money from one country to another for small remittances – $250 and $635 USD equivalent.

The most interesting inference that can be drawn from these graphs is the constitution of the immigrant work force in the country of origin for the remittance. The cost of transfering money also represents the development of the receiving countries banking system.

Interestingly India appears to be one of the top 5 destinations to which money can be remitted cheaply in most of the cases, which shows the spread of Indian workforce across the globe.

A few samples from the World Bank site are reproduced below:

Canada can_1033

Francefra_1033

Germanydeu_1033

United Kingdomgbr_1033

 

 

 

 

 

 

United Statesusa_1033

Singaporesgp_1033