Why some Indians are quietly celebrating China’s market meltdown

Keeping watch.
Keeping watch.
Image: Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal
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China’s dramatic stock market crash has spooked bourses across the world, including in India.

India’s benchmark Sensex index has fallen around 7.6% since Aug. 11, including over 1,600 points on Monday (Aug. 24) —its biggest fall since 2009 and the third biggest crash in history in terms of absolute value.

Amid all the trepidation, however, some Indians are rejoicing.

Non-resident Indians (NRIs)—who sent $70.4 billion in remittances to India in 2014—appear to be taking full advantage of the depreciating rupee, and fueling a spurt in money being wired back to India.

The rupee has weakened over 4% against the US dollar since Aug.11 when China devalued its currency. On Monday, the Indian currency lost 1.3% in intra-day trade against the US dollar, its steepest fall since September 2013.

Over the last two weeks, money transfer companies in the United Arab Emirates—with some 2.6 million Indians, who send back about $12 billion every year—have seen a distinct increase in remittances to India.

Volumes of remittances to India have gone up by between 15% and 20% for UAE Exchange, a money transfer firm that handled $7.1 billion worth of remittances to India in 2014.

“Indians who work here wait for such opportunities, and this is a very good one,” Promoth Manghat, chief executive officer at UAE Exchange in Dubai, told Quartz.

In Oman, which has some 700,000 NRIs, it’s much of the same. “People are remitting money to make use of the good exchange rates. Especially, high volume remittance is happening from investors,” Philip Koshy, general manager of Modern Exchange, told the Times of Oman.

Xpress Money, a money transfer company with a presence across 150 countries, has seen an increase of 25-30% in the volume of remittances in the last two weeks.

“Some NRIs have the compulsion to send money to their families every month, while there are many who don’t have any such liabilities,” Sudhesh Giriyan, chief operating officer at Xpress Money in Dubai, told Quartz. “But when the exchange rate becomes this lucrative, they want to send it back to India because the returns they will get in India are far better.”

“I think this is the best exchange rate in the last 24 months and we are expecting remittances to increase further,” Giriyan added.

That’s why NRIs like Taarika Prabhu, a communications professional working in Dubai, couldn’t be more thrilled. “I don’t have any liabilities back home to send money, but the exchange rate is luring and I have extra money, so I am transferring,” she explained. “I will need money when I go to India, so why not send it at this good rate?”

Last year, India topped the chart for global remittances, with NRIs contributing some 12% of all the money sent back by foreign workers to their home countries across the world.