Exchange companies in the UAE have come together to form the Foreign Exchange and Remittance Group (FERG). The main objective is to work for the betterment of the exchange industry and create a conducive environment for their business growth and facilitate a healthy competitive market for all.
The Group is licensed by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and works under the aegis of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE).
The idea of creation of a group working for the benefit of the exchange sector was initiated by a few top exchange companies under the leadership and vision of its founder Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Al Ansari in the early 2000s. The Steering Committee as it was then known, met frequently to discuss and debate issues relating to the Sector and liaised with CBUAE, Ministries, Regulators in correspondent countries, etc. to bring about a change in mindset about this Sector and accept and acknowledge the contribution of this Industry in the social and economic growth.
In 2006, the Committee decided to formalize this union and FERG was created. FERG currently has 61 members, who jointly control over 85% of the exchange and remittance business in the UAE.
FERG is managed by highly experienced Industry leaders with a vision to position the UAE as the global leader in the exchange and remittance business.
The current office bearers are:
• Mr. Osama Al Rahma – Chairman
• Mr. Sudhir Kumar Shetty – Vice-Chairman
• Mr. Rajiv Raipancholia – Secretary
• Mr. Adeeb Ahamed – Treasurer
• Mr. S. Karunakaran- Joint-Treasurer
“The idea behind FERG has been to advocate for reform and progress in our industry. We’ve taken up issues that have led to favorable policy changes. We work very closely with financial regulators and law enforcement to completely weed out non-compliant financial transactions and unethical business practices to have an innovative yet stable foreign exchange and remittance industry that contributes to the economic and social wellbeing of our customers,” said Mr. Osama Al Rahma, Chairman of FERG.
“We’re effectively evolving the industry to meet the challenges of the 21st century. FERG wants to help all its members to comply with local directives and global best practices. It’s in all our interest because non-compliance with best practice means negative brand equity for the entire industry”, added Al Rahma.
It is estimated that AED 110 billion are transferred annually by UAE’s expatriate workers to home markets. In addition to remittances, exchange companies are a one stop shop for all the financial needs, as services such as credit card bill payments, credit card encashment, international mobile phone top ups, National Bonds, Salik payments, etc. are also provided. Besides, Exchange Companies are actively partnering in the prestigious Wage Protection System (WPS), an innovative and novel social scheme formulated by the Government of UAE.
Some of FERG’s key achievements are:
1. Policy Amendments with the Central Bank of the UAE.
2. Emiratization: Created awareness and importance of bringing in the Emirati work force in to the private sector among the members. Active role played in the policy of the Government for integrating UAE nationals into the private sector economy. Today, most of the member exchange companies conform to the UAE national policy on Emiratization
3. Partnering with the Government in the implementation of the Wages Protection System (WPS).
4. Close liaison with the Police Departments and helping them in investigations relating to financials transactions and anomalies.
5. Sharing of information’s/fraud alerts amongst members to prevent frauds.
6. Over 27 workshops conducted up to 2014 on AML which benefitted over 1000 staff from the industry who are trained on AML policies and procedures. Especially this has benefitted many smaller exchange companies who otherwise do not have the resources and expertise to train their staff members.
7. Indian correspondents bank guarantee requirements reduced from 3 days to 1 day.