Visa Study Finds Digital Payments Are the Preferred Way in the U.S. to Send Money Abroad


Nearly one-quarter of surveyed U.S. adults have sent money to family and friends internationally

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 17, 2021-- Consumers are increasingly turning to digital payments to send money to family and friends around the world to help out financially or celebrate special occasions, according to a new Visa (NYSE: V) survey. Almost a quarter (23%) of surveyed U.S. adults have sent money from the U.S. to another country and nearly two-thirds (65%) of those remittance users plan to send money to another country to celebrate the holiday season this year1. The new Visa data highlights growing digital adoption to improve daily lives in the global payments ecosystem. Digital remittances are the preferred method, with digital-only transactions already being the most popular and a majority (59%) of the remittance users surveyed saying they have sent or plan to send money using digital-only platforms.

“Throughout my career I have emigrated to several countries for job opportunities, and sending money home to El Salvador was always a complex and frustrating process – but there was never a better way,” said Ruben Salazar, Global Head of Visa Direct. “As cross-border money transfers become increasingly digital, we built Visa Direct which connects 5 billion cards and bank accounts in 200 geographies and 160 currencies to help drastically simplify and accelerate the process of sending funds back home and ultimately improve the lives of migrant workers across the globe."

The payments that adults in the U.S. send internationally to help support their families in other countries are known as remittances. Globally, it is estimated that 800 million people receive money from family or friends to pay for food, utilities and education.2 Yet historically, sending money home has been a fragmented, costly and slow experience that left senders unsure of when and if money would be delivered.

Now, digital transformation is removing physical barriers of traveling to a location to receive money and simplifying how people move money internationally.

Payments innovation simplifies money movement that can uplift lives

Harnessing the power of Visa’s vast network, Visa solutions help move money quickly and securely. In partnership with global remitters, Visa Direct enables digital remittances by simplifying cross-border payments around the globe, helping create new opportunities for financial inclusion and wealth building.

Visa continuously strives to create more ways for everyone, everywhere to participate in the global economy. As the trusted engine of commerce, Visa has a powerful ecosystem of partners and suite of products that help enable financial institutions, fintechs, governments and more to disburse funds in real-time3, delivering immediate value and unlocking new opportunities through digitization to communities around the world.

Visa Study Highlights Digital Trend

Visa conducted a U.S. study4 exploring the reasons and ways people send money across borders, with key insights emerging on the modernization of moving money internationally:

  • U.S. adults send money for a happy holiday, and to extend a helping hand. According to the Visa study, more than half (51%) of surveyed U.S. adults who send money to families internationally to celebrate the holiday season plan to send money within the next month. Year-round, the top reasons for sending money abroad are to help someone unexpectedly in need (46%) or for holiday gifts (31%) and other special occasions (32%). Still, about one-third (29%) of surveyed people say they regularly send money to support friends or family in other countries.
  • Digital-only transactions are the most popular way to send money. The majority (59%) of surveyed people who send money abroad plan to use a purely digital platform, although 41% have used or plan to use a digital method that requires them to go to a physical location such as a bank. Looking ahead, 39% say their use of digital money transfers will increase.
  • Sending money digitally offers speed, convenience and peace of mind. Surveyed U.S. adults who use digital remittances cite a range of benefits – from making it easier to send money to other countries (40%) to ensuring their money will be sent safely, privately and quickly (36%). 44% of surveyed digital remittance users say their friends and family members received their money “immediately or almost immediately” while nearly half (47%) of those who sent checks or money orders said it could take anywhere from two days to over two weeks for people to access the funds.

The Visa Economic Empowerment Institute has published a whitepaper on the rise of digital remittances, outlining ways the public and private sector can work together to find more solutions for continuing to improve global money movement for everyone, everywhere. For more information on Visa Direct, please visit:

About Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of digital commerce on any device for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit About Visa, and @VisaNews.

Survey Methodology

This poll was conducted by Morning Consult during December 3-6, 2021 among a national sample of 2,200 US Adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

In this study, the term ‘Remittance Users’ (n=571) refers to those who have ever sent money to another country from the US or who are planning to send money to another country in the next 12 months. ‘Digital Remittance Users’ (n=483) are those who have sent or plan to send money using a method that is at least partly digital, even if they have gone to a physical location to complete the transaction.



Visa Remittances Landscape Survey by Morning Consult (US, 2200 adults) Dec. 3-6, 2021



United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Data, June 2019,



Actual fund availability varies by receiving financial institution, receiving account type, region, and whether transaction is domestic or cross-border.



Visa Remittances Landscape Survey by Morning Consult (US, 2200 adults) Dec. 3-6, 2021


Tierney Deggelman

Source: Visa Inc.