SAN FRANCISCO (1/10/08)--Credit unions looking to tap the remittance market can consult a new guide which explains why many immigrants don’t use banks. “Banking in a Global Market,” by the Appleseed Network, a non-profit group, provides information for setting up a remittance program. It also compares current models that financial institutions use, such as offering dual ATM cards or partnering with money transfer operators (San Francisco Chronicle Jan. 8). Western Union and other money transfer companies currently dominate the remittance market, although financial institutions, including credit unions, have begun to participate. Many credit unions offer remittances through the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Remittance Network (IR Network). Many immigrants say large financial institutions target only the wealthy, and as a result, immigrants carry their money and are then targeted by thieves. Moving away from cash-based transactions can benefit immigrants, but it takes time to change consumer behavior, said Ann Baddour, one of the guide’s authors. Financial institutions who don’t serve the remittance market will lose out, she told the newspaper. The average amount of money immigrants send back to home countries has increased. In 2006, immigrants transferred $300 billion, with $23 billion moving from the U.S. to Mexico, the newspaper stated.