El Salvador received US$515.8 million in family remittances in the first month of 2021, with an increase of 21.5% (US$91.4 million more) compared to January last year, a behavior driven by the delivery of the second economic support check to the US population by the US government.
The increase in remittance inflows in January 2021 is the highest since the pandemic began. The top five countries from which family remittances were received, in order of importance, were the United States with US$491.1 million (21.7% more), Canada with US$5.2 million (38.0% more), Italy with US$2.2 million and an increase of 20.5%, Spain with US$2.0 million and a growth of 7.8%, while remittances sent from Mexico totaled US$0.6 million, with growth of 3.2%.
Most of the family remittances were received in the central zone of the country with US$193.2 million, equivalent to 37.5% of the total; followed by the eastern zone with US$164.2 million, equivalent to 31.8%. The western zone had an income of US$88.1 million in remittances and participated with 17.1% and finally the paracentral zone had an income of $59.7 million, with a weight of 11.6%.
During the first month of 2021, the 14 departments of El Salvador registered positive growth rates in remittance inflows, led by Cuscatlán with 26.2%, Usulután with 25.4% and Morazán with 25.1%. In terms of municipalities, remittances increased in 90.8% of them, led by San Salvador, San Miguel, and Santa Ana.
The country's financial system reported 1.7 million transactions under the concept of family remittances in January 2021, increasing 8.5% over the same period in 2020.
The participation of banking institutions as disbursing agents is 35.8% of total remittances received; equivalent to US$184.8 million; other companies such as federations, credit unions and companies dedicated to the disbursement of family remittances settled 62.2% of the total, equivalent to US$320.8 million.
A total of 67.8% of family remittances were cashed over the counter, while 30.3% of the total was paid into a bank account, a percentage that has accelerated due to the pandemic. The average family remittance per financial system transaction was US$301 in January 2021, increasing 12.1% (US$33) with respect to the average recorded in January 2020 (US$268).
Meanwhile, family remittances in cash and in kind (cell phone recharges paid by compatriots from abroad) totaled US$10.3 million, growing 18.8%.