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Wells Fargo Becomes First Major U.S. Bank to Offer Consumer Remittance Service to El Salvador and Guatemala.

Expands Consumer Remittance Network to Central America

LOS ANGELES, May 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Further strengthening its commitment to innovative products and services for the Latino community, Wells Fargo & Company is expanding its InterCuenta Express(R) remittance service to El Salvador and Guatemala.

The new remittance services -- in association with Banco Industrial S.A. and Banco De Desarrollo Rural S.A. of Guatemala and Banco Agricola S.A. of El Salvador -- allow U.S. customers to send up to US$3,000 a day from their accounts to accounts in El Salvador and Guatemala for $8.00 per transaction. The products are Wells Fargo's fourth international remittance launch in ten years, and the first into Central America.

"By expanding our services and establishing new alliances, we continue to offer greater choice, value and service to more Latino customers," said Daniel Ayala, head of Wells Fargo Cross Border Payments. "As the pioneer in remittance products and services, Wells Fargo has reached out to the Latino community for over a decade. These new alliances in Central America further solidify our commitment to becoming the bank of choice for Latino customers."

The global remittance market is estimated at $110 billion, with remittances to Central America accounting for more than $10 billion. El Salvador and Guatemala account for over half of all remittances to Central America.

"One important strategy in leveraging remittances and economic development is promoting access to financial services organizations in the U.S. and abroad," said Dr. Manuel Orozco, Senior Associate Inter-American Dialogue. "Wells Fargo's work with Banco Agricola, Banco De Desarrollo Rural, and Banco Industrial, is a significant step in this direction."

Banco Agricola, founded 50 years ago, has the largest network in El Salvador with its 60 branches and more than 300 ATMs and is its nation's largest bank (in assets) with more than one million customers. Almost a third of all money transfers into El Salvador enter through Banco Agricola.

"Wells Fargo's comprehensive reach within the United States is the best option for the more than one and a half million Salvadorians in America who send money to their families back home," said Ernesto Magana, International Business Manager for Banco Agricola. "At the same time, this geographical competitive advantage generates great synergy with the banking presence of Banco Agricola in El Salvador, resulting in a fitting alliance for Salvadorenos in the United States."

Banrural -- Banco De Desarrollo Rural S.A. is the fastest growing bank in Guatemala over the last fifteen years, third largest in the country and tenth largest in Central America. It provides economic development and financial services in Guatemala's rural areas, has the nation's largest and most successful micro-finance operation and the largest network of branch offices and the most complete geographic coverage, with 315 branches and access to more than 800 ATMs.

"This relationship will allow our fellow Guatemalans access to secure, fast, and affordable services in both countries, through the convenient and ample networks provided by Wells Fargo and Banrural," said Fernando Pena, General Manager (CEO) of Banrural S.A. "This new service complements the emerging remittance market by bridging the gap to formal financial systems, which will give Guatemalans access to new opportunities of economic growth."

Banco Industrial, S.A., with assets of US$ 2.7 billion, is Guatemala's largest bank. It has 1,167 customer service points (285 branches and 882 ATMs) and offers a wide range of banking products and financial services to corporate and retail customers with the highest quality standards and the most advanced technology.

"This strategic alliance between Banco Industrial S.A. and Wells Fargo, forms the best infrastructure of financial services and money transfers for Guatemalans in the U.S. and their relatives in Guatemala," said Luis Fernando Prado, International Division Manager Banco Industrial, S.A. "The alliance is based on the commitment that both institutions have to provide financial services that increase the well-being of the Guatemalan people."

Customers can safely transfer funds directly from Wells Fargo to the alliance member banks in El Salvador and Guatemala. Once they open an InterCuenta Express account, clients can use a Wells Fargo store, phone, online banking, or ATM channel to conveniently transfer funds from their Wells Fargo account to their beneficiary's account in El Salvador or Guatemala. Once the transfer is complete, funds are available the following banking day in the respective location.

Wells Fargo launched its InterCuenta Express(R), the money transfer product between the U.S. and Mexico, ten years ago. Last June, the expansion of Wells Fargo's Mexico remittance services created the largest proprietary consumer remittance distribution network by a U.S. bank in Mexico. Late last year, Wells Fargo also launched remittance services to India and the Philippines.

Wells Fargo has a long history of pioneering products and services for the Latino community. Three years ago, Wells Fargo was the first major financial services company in the U.S. to promote the Matricula card as an acceptable form of identification for new account openings. Since then the number of accounts Wells Fargo has opened using the Matricula has surpassed 500,000. Wells Fargo also accepts the Guatemalan Consular Identification Card.

Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $436 billion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance to more than 23 million customers from more than 6,000 stores and the internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and elsewhere internationally. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is the only bank in the United States to receive the highest possible credit rating, "Aaa," from Moody's Investors Service.

CONTACT: Linadria Porter of Wells Fargo & Company, +1-415 222-6236, or Linadria.Porter@wellsfargo.com

Web site: http://www.wellsfargo.com/
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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 19, 2005
Words:945
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