Unfortunately, these new stringent measures have affected areas never intended. Discussions between missionary organisations and Governments to free up Mission funds have taken place. In cases of benevolence, and natural disasters, these funds are vital.
Various approved means have been adopted to circumnavigate these difficulties and one of the companies that has benefited is Western Union. Many Missions have based their fund raising systems on the Western Union methodology. The system is a transfer one, where the same documentation is provided at either end, whether the donor is in the US and the recipient is in Africa, or whether the money is transferred from Australia to Asia, or from anywhere to anywhere else.
Another struggle for Missionaries has been organising a system of having ready cash. The credit or debit card is very handy and useful, but when there are no ATM facilities or a card is stolen or misplaced, issues arise.
There have been a host of articles recently about European and Asian gangs using technical means to skim ATMs. Card numbers and PIN's are recorded and funds are being fraudulently acquired. Thieves are also known for exchanging retail outlet card machines with lookalike, fake card machines.
Australians have been advised not to use PIN but to sign for purchases as a means to protect their money. Unfortunately in many retail outlets now, the signature option is not available so customers have little choice than to use a PIN.
A Mission person visiting New Zealand recently discovered there was only one retail outlet over twelve days of travel that still retained the signature option.
Caution should be exercised by all travellers when the PIN is the only option – DO NOT LET THE CARD OUT OF YOUR SIGHT – insist that the card-reader is brought to you at the counter or your restaurant table, and do not let any staff take it away. (Most reputable establishments automatically do this, now).
Fortunately there is a new option for Missionaries to make cash available to themselves. The Lonely Planet guide details this:
"A secure way to carry cash abroad is to use a prepaid cash card like those offered by FairFX and Travelex. Rates aren't quite as good as using a no-fee debit or credit card, but not only does it not have interest or loading fees, you can preload cash onto cards and spend abroad without incurring extra costs. These cards also offer peace of mind – if you lose your card you can get another issued for a small fee."
It has been said, 'become a missionary and see the world'. This is still true today. One group, YWAM (Youth With A Mission) is very successful at this. Its members all carry very a thick passports!
YWAM is huge organisation, with young people travelling from around the world to engage in study programs and course work. This writer has spoken at YWAM functions and study courses for many years, including a seminar in Lae in Papua New Guinea in 1991.
Missionaries have always needed to have ready access to cash. Today, it is important that they understand the correct mechanisms to make this safe and secure, as easy electronic movement of money is part of modern day finances.