Aug 142012

The BBC News reports that by the beginning of 2013, every bank customer in the U.K. may have the ability to transfer money between bank accounts using apps on their mobile phones!

In February 2012, Barclays Bank became the first bank to launch such an app for its customers.

Now the banking industry at large – as represented by the Payments Council – is building a database that will link all bank accounts to their customers’ mobile phone numbers.

This will allow every bank to connect their own systems to the database, and offer their own money transfer mobile apps to their own customers.

Mobile-to-mobile transfers

Mobile-to-mobile transfers may revolutionize the way people send money.

“There’s clearly a great demand for mobile payments, and our work will ensure that banks of all shapes and sizes can offer their own competitive service to their customers,” said Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council.

“Whether you want to pay a friend or your window cleaner, we are laying the foundation to enable mobile payments to become a mainstream option.”

How the System Will Work

Once the system is up and running, if you want to send money from your own bank account to someone else’s, here’s what you’ll have to do:

1. Register with your bank and activate their money-transfer app on your mobile phone (the recipient must also be registered with their own bank).

2. Log in to the app on your phone using a pin number.

3. Select the person you want to send money to – all you will need is their mobile number.

4. Choose the amount to be paid and add any note that you wish, such as “loan” or “gift”.

5. Enter a pin number to confirm the transfer.

6. The payment is then made, details will appear on the recipient’s app, and your account will show your reduced balance.

The money will be transferred instantly. So if you want to pay a vendor, or you get a call from a friend or relative needing a little financial assistance, you could move money to their account instantly.

“The point is not only that it is very secure but that it is fast as well,” Mr Kamellard says.

“It offers customers a different way of behaving.”

An Alternative to Credit Cards?

Money won’t be stored on your phone itself – the system doesn’t turn your phone into a mobile wallet – but the banking industry seems to believe that the coming changes will revolutionize personal payment habits.

Dave Birch, a payments expert at Consult Hyperion, says the biggest impact may not be on individuals but on small businesses such as shops.

“This could be adopted very quickly in the small business space – it may turn out to be more convenient and cheaper than accepting credit card payments,” he says.

Perhaps. But if I were a merchant, I wouldn’t want to have to use an app to log in to my bank account and confirm payment every time someone purchased a product. There are also security issues that will need to be addressed. For example, banks will have to be able to disable the app remotely if the phone is lost or stolen. But I suppose that’s not much different than having to cancel your credit cards when your wallet gets stolen.

I also wonder if this is bad news for online money transfer services like Paypal, and maybe debit card and credit card providers as well.

In any case, these are interesting changes that are coming, and it will be fascinating to see how they impact various financial spheres, including remittances, personal money transfers, and the retail industry.

Apr 052012

By W.H.A.|

Wells Fargo ExpressSend – An Affordable Remittance Service for Wells Fargo Customers

Wells Fargo Bank has a service called ExpressSend that allows you to send money to your family and friends in Mexico, and 14 countries in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and Asia. Customers with Wells Fargo checking accounts get a discount on the money transfer fees when sending money through ExpressSend.

You can use the Wells Fargo ExpressSend service at any Wells Fargo store location, online or through theWells Fargo Phone BankSM . If you want to fund the transfer with cash, you can do that only at Wells Fargo Banking stores, not through the Wells Fargo Phone Bank or online at

Wells Fargo Bank ExpressSendExpressSend Transfer Fees

  • Mexico:  $6.00 per transfer from your Wells Fargo account, $7.00 per transfer from cash
Central America:
  • Guatemala: From account $7.00 per transfer, From cash $9.00 per transfer
  • El Salvador : From account $8.00 per transfer, From cash $10.00 per transfer
  • Nicaragua: From account $8.00 per transfer, From cash $10.00 per transfer
  • Honduras : From account $7.00 per transfer, From cash $9.00 per transfer
  • Dominican Republic: From account $6.00 per transfer, From cash $9.00 per transfer
South America:
  • Colombia: From account $7.00 per transfer, From cash $9.00 per transfer
  • Argentina: From account $8.00 per transfer, From cash $10.00 per transfer
  • Bolivia: From account $8.00 per transfer, From cash $10.00 per transfer
  • Ecuador: From account $8.00 per transfer, From cash $10.00 per transfer
  • Peru: From account $8.00 per transfer, From cash $10.00 per transfer
  • India: From account $5.00 per transfer, From cash $7.00 per transfer
  • Philippines: From account $5.00 per transfer, From cash $7.00 per transfer
  • Vietnam: From account $12.00 per transfer, From cash $14.00 per transfer
  • China: From account $12.00 per transfer, From cash $14.00 per transfer

Your beneficiary (the person you sent the money to) can easily access the money – either by cash pick-up or by having the funds deposited into an account at the receiving institution.

The “to-account” or the “to-cash” option may not be available at all Remittance Network Members or locations. When sending money to an account, Wells Fargo will need the beneficiary’s qualifying deposit account number at the Remittance Network Member.

Transferring Money Online Between Wells Fargo Accounts

Wells Fargo’s banking and investing services are integrated online, so you can transfer money between your various financial accounts quite easily.

To transfer funds online from your Wells Fargo bank account to your Wells Fargo brokerage account or vice versa, do the following:

  1. Sign on to Wells Fargo Online®.
  2. Select the Transfers tab, then select Brokerage Transfers.
  3. Choose whether the transfer is To Brokerage or From Brokerage.
  4. Select the linked bank account for this transfer, the amount of the transfer, and the frequency of the transfer (make a one-time transfer, set up recurring transfers, or even plan a transfer for sometime in the future).
  5. Click Continue, review your information, and you’re done.
Jan 122012

By W.H.A.|

I’m still getting a lot of comments and messages from people asking me what the SWIFT code is for this bank or that bank. Rather than spend all my time looking up individual SWIFT codes, let me point you to the resources you can use to find the SWIFT code for any bank or financial institution.

First of all, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read here to learn a little about SWIFT codes and their uses:

SWIFT Money Transfers

Secondly, see this short article on looking up SWIFT codes:

SWIFT Code Finder

As the second article says, you can look up SWIFT codes at’s online lookup page here:

SWIFT online directories and downloads

Other ideas for finding an institution’s SWIFT code are:

  • Determine the institution’s name and address. Find out if the company is part of the Swift network. If the business is not part of Swift it won’t have a Swift code assigned.
  • Call the bank or financial institution for which you want the SWIFT code, and ask them. The best departments to contact will be the Trading, Wire Transfers or Securities Settlement areas of the company.
Nov 272011
SWIFT Code Logo

Logo of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, provider of SWIFT codes

By W.H.A.|

I get a steady stream of messages and comments from people wanting the SWIFT code for particular banks around the world. Rather than spend my time looking up SWIFT codes for people, it would be easier to tell you how to look it up yourself.

SWIFT Code Finder

You can look up SWIFT codes at’s online lookup page here:

SWIFT online directories and downloads

You can also call the institution for which you want the SWIFT code, and ask them. They will be happy to provide you with that information.

A SWIFT code, also known as ISO 9362, is a unique identifier given to every financial institution around the world. These codes are used when transferring money between banks, and especially when conducting international wire transfers. They are also used for the exchange of messages between banks. They are sometimes included on bank statements. The easiest way to learn the SWIFT code of your bank is to ask them.

Mar 312009

A member of the Australian government, Ms Amanda Rishworth MP, has created a website – – to help Pacific Islanders living in Australia and New Zealand find the best money transfer service to send money back home.

“This is an important tool to help Pacific island workers make informed choices about ways to send money home, and ensure they maximise the value of the remittances they earn while in Australia,” Ms Rishworth said.

Compared to other regions around the world, the cost of sending money home to the Pacific is much higher. The website allows individuals to compare money transfer services in terms of cost, speed and convenience.

This author was shocked to learn that while the global average cost for money transfer is ten percent, for Pacific Islanders it can be 13 to 30 percent. That’s outrageous!

The website provides details and transparent information on the fees and services for key money transfer service providers to several different Pacific Islands. It also uses a “secret shopper” to spot check the validity of information provided on the website.

Information on conducting money transfers to Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu is included on the website.

In addition to the cost comparison service, the website will provide Pacific Islander communities within Australia and New Zealand with a news service, financial information and notice boards. Information from the website will be made available in hard copy for distribution to community groups.

 Posted by at 12:13 am
Jun 152007

IBAN bank transfer system logo

What is an International Bank Account Number – IBAN?

Using IBAN for European Money Transfers

Transferring funds to European countries has been made simpler with the introduction of the International Bank Account Number (IBAN). The IBAN was developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and adopted by the European Committee for Banking Standards in order to encourage hassle free cross-border transfers throughout Europe.

The purpose of the IBAN is to make it possible to identify an account held at a bank anywhere in the world.

By having a standardised international account number, money transfers can be made both quickly and safely.

Where Are IBAN Transfers Available?

IBAN bank transfers are available in Europe only, and are often the cheapest way to transfer money internationally. IBAN transfers have become tremendously popular among expatriats of Eastern Europe EU countries like Poland and Lithuania who are living in Western European countries like the UK, France and Germany. They use the IBAN transfers to remit money safely and cheaply to their relatives back home.

IBAN transfers are not available in the United States of America, and are not likely to be, with the decentralized structure of the US banking system and lack of nationwide banks as compared to Europe. Electronic account-to-account transfers are often called wire or ACH transfers in the USA.

How Much Do IBAN Transfers Cost?

IBAN transfer costs vary. Some European banks will send an IBAN transfer free of charge, of charge, as specified by EU/EEA directive 2560/2001, but some will charge up to five Euros (still quite cheap compared to many other money transfer methods). Check rates with your local bank.

How Long Do IBAN Transfers Take?

The length of time required for an IBAN transfer varies from bank to bank. Often the transfer will take place the same day; almost all will be complete by the next day; and only in exceptional circumstances will it take longer than that.

When you go into the bank to fill out an IBAN transfer request, some banks will have a section on the requrest form that you can tick if you want express delivery.

Some banks are simply better and speedier at handling IBAN transfers than others. Some offer a free IBAN transfer service, and a faster, “premium” service that you have to pay for. One customer who used the free service recently complained that, “It seems like the banks are delaying the cheap transfer (which they are obliged to offer) in order to sell the “premium” product.”

With the Bank of Ireland, normal transfers cost 28cts and take up to 3 working days. For 25 euro, you can get same day service. Bank of Scotland, on the other hand, will guarantee same day delivery (without forms just a fax) if processed before 11.00am!

Our recommendation is that if your bank offers a premium IBAN transfer service, and the costs are reasonable, then use that service, as you will likely get faster transfer times.

In any case, make sure you know whether the transfer will be free or not. One recent bank customer in Ireland:

“I transferred Euro 3500 from my Irish bank account to my Dresdner account, and sure enough Euro 3495 arrived, 5 Euros taken off for ‘charges’. I thought that with IBAN & BIC, international transfers are supposed to be free under EU law? I want to ring my bank and complain (I like complaining). But I like complaining even better when I’m sure of the facts.”

What do IBAN Numbers Look Like?

Some people mistake the IBAN for a new account number and are unsure which number to quote when asked. The IBAN is not a new account number, it is a series of alphanumeric characters that incorporates the ISO country code, two check digits and the bank branch reference number, which precedes your own account number at that bank.

Below is a table listing the European countries that use IBAN, along with a typical example of the specific country IBAN. Although the IBAN format differs from country to country, for each country, the IBAN is a fixed length and has common alphanumeric characters.

Where to Find Your IBAN Number

Many European banks now include your IBAN number on your bank statements. Ask a bank representative to point out to you the location of the IBAN number.

If you’ve just opened a bank account and you want to obtain the new IBAN number of your account you should contact your bank. The bank will inform you in writing or in some other appropriate way of the new IBAN number of your account. To be absolutely sure, that you have received accurate and complete information, please visit your servicing branch in person.

If you run a business and you receive bank transfers in the course of business, be sure to specify your IBAN as the account number on your invoices. Also, you should inform your business partners of the IBAN number of your bank account, generated by your bank. Ask your suppliers and business partners to whome you make payments to provide you with their IBAN account numbers so you can pay them easily and cheaply.

Looking Up Your IBAN Number Online

Several websites, such as, have IBAN number lookups or “IBAN Search” tools. These tools will generate an IBAN number based on the account information that you enter. However, these tools are intended to be used by bank professionals, and many of them require subscriptions or memberships.’s IBAN search tool cautions: ” If you need an IBAN for your own use, please contact your bank who will provide you with one. Do not attempt to generate your own IBAN. The IBAN Search is not designed for and must not be used for the generation of IBANs by bank customers.”

Jun 012007

SWIFT bank transfer system logo

What are SWIFT money transfers and how do they work?

Who are SWIFT?

A few years ago someone wanted to send me a payment for a subscription website that I was running, and he asked me for my SWIFT code. I had never heard of a SWIFT code, and had no idea how to get one.

So I did some research and I learned that SWIFT ( is an organization co-operatively owned by many financial institutions and basedin Belgium. SWIFT has many functions, in particular supplying secure, standardized interface software to financial institutions around the world.

In 1973, banks still communicated via telex — not very secure, minimum standards and not automated either. Imagine receiving 10,000 telexes a day. So, 239 banks from 15 countries formed a cooperative to “automate the telex”. They called it the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (no “s” at the end). S.W.I.F.T.

SWIFT are now one of the prime network providers for movement of cash between banks (the average daily value of SWIFT payment messages today is over $5 trillion!), and for many other types of transactions. SWIFT provide a financial EDI infrastructure, offering Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and Electronic Trade Confirmation (ETC), allowing the banks and other parties involved, the message partners, to have Straight Through Processing (STP). The idea is to substantially reduce the time taken to process a transaction from a few days (as is only possible conducting the transaction manually), to within a day.

Bottom line: the reason money can be moved so quickly from one financial institution to another today, is because of SWIFT. They key to all this? A numerical code called a SWIFT or BIC code.

SWIFT Codes or BIC Codes

One of SWIFT’s crucial functions is to allocate SWIFT codes (which have now been renamed BIC codes). The SWIFT or BIC code is a unique alphanumerical identifier that can be used to identify any financial institution worldwide. This includes brokerage firms, clearing houses, investment managers, stock exchanges, securities deposit organizations and banks. Every bank has a different code, and they use it whenever money is wired from one bank to another. So if you need to wire money to any bank, it helps if you know the SWIFT code, which you can get from the receiving bank. Of course you’ll also need the account number that you are sending to.

A SWIFT Code consists of either eight or 11 upper case alphanumeric characters. If it has eight characters it is probably an HQ or primary financial institution. If it has 11, it’s probably a branch.

  • The first four characters are the bank code (usually the first letters of the bank’s name).
  • The next two characters tell you the ISO country code.
  • Then come two characters that identify the bank’s location.
  • The last three characters (which are optional) identify a specific branch office of the bank or other financial institution.

For example, Bank of The Philippine Islands has the SWIFT code BOPIPHMM, the MM is for Metro Manila.

Nowadays, however, they call it a BIC (Banking Identification Code). So if you need to wire money to someone’s bank account, get their BIC code and account number. Keep in mind that o ne financial organisation can have a number of different BICs.

These different BICs may be for different services, and separate BICs are used for test and live, as a precaution against accidentally publishing test feeds into production.