Jan 152014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Unistream, the leading Russian money transfer service has launched an electronic wallet to serve their customers better. Previously, they have been using a network of agents for transferring money, just like any other money transfer service. They have operations at over 333,500 locations in over 100 countries. They also have over 200 counters of their own across Russia.

They accept cash transfers, mobile transfers, online transfers, card to cash and card to card transfers. Their transfer charge differs for each country, which usually begins at 1% for most countries and reduces as the amount transferred increases. They have two methods of money transfer: Address-based and non-Address-based (Anywhere transfer). Address-based requires that the sender selects the location where the recipient can collect the money, while in the case of the latter the sender only has to specify the city.

Unistream money transfer, RussiaLater last year, Unistream entered the market of electronic payments with a multifunction electronic wallet called Unistream Money. The wallet is expected to be a financial communications hub for customers. This service allows them to manage their expenses from any device with internet access. Payments can be made without opening a bank account. The service has been launched but it is not yet available for use. It shall be available from June 30, 2014. The customers will only be able to make non-address-based transfers up to 100,000 Rubles. The transfers can be cashed out at any of the Unistream locations in the receiving city.

Transfers from one Unistream wallet to another are also free of charge. Transfers can also be made to bank cards and bank accounts, apart from other e-wallets. A standard fee is applicable to such transfers. Users can also make bill payments to over 900 companies, with scope for continuous expansion of this list. The wallets can also be used to repay loans at Russian banks.

Users can top up their Unistream wallets at any of the Unistream service points, which number over 200 across Russia, and at many of Unistream partner banks in Russia and abroad. According to PR.com, users will also be able to top up with bank cards and other e-wallets very soon.

If the user intends to transfer an amount below 15,000 Rubles, he/she will have to visit a Unistream service point for registration and authentication, while users making transfers above 15,000 Rubles are automatically registered and authenticated. I consider this as an act to get maximum first-time transfers.

Jan 062014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Some experts believe that Bitcoin will replace money transfer services using foreign exchange. Now, what is bitcoin and how does it work? In this article, I will discuss this in brief.

Bitcoin is virtual currency, also known as cryptocurrency because it uses cryptography for security. It is a digital peer to peer payment system in a digital currency, which does not currently come under national currency regulations. In fact, people in a few countries use bitcoin as an alternative to national currencies, to avoid regulations. For example, some Iranians use bitcoins to evade currency sanctions.

BitcoinBitcoins can be purchased from bitcoin exchanges and sold or transferred. They can also be converted into local currency, but a few countries like China do not allow conversion of bitcoins to local currency, but this could be temporary and the general public is allowed to buy and sell bitcoins.

A few countries like Kenya are successfully using bitcoins. In Kenya, a service called Kipochi is based on the bitcoin concept and uses the M-Pesa network. Transfers happen at a very low cost compared to the traditional currency transfers. Bitcoins can be exchanged for local currency through the bitcoin exchanges.

However, bitcoin is highly volatile and no one can guarantee or fix a rate. Rates fluctuate rapidly and depend on trade that happens in the bitcoin markets. While I wrote this article, the rate was fluctuating between $940 and $980 per bitcoin. This rate had fallen to $600 within hours, when China introduced the new rule.

It is also possible to buy physical bitcoins. Each of these coins is supposed to be broken to reveal a piece of paper with a privet key to a bitcoin wallet.

Bitcoins is still new and needs some time to become stable. At present, a few companies accept bitcoins as currency. In the UK, some people use bitcoins to buy pizzas. But how does it happen? A bitcoin is nearly $1000, so how can one make purchases? Bitcoins are divisible to 8 decimal places and while making purchases, one does not have to use a full bitcoin. The cost in bitcoins, when compared with local currency is almost equal.

So, we could expect bitcoin to be an accepted currency all over the world in the future. A few news agencies believe that governments may step in and regulate bitcoin in the near future, in order to avoid illegal transfers, money laundering, black markets, theft and criminal activities. If all countries begin to accept bitcoin, it could soon replace money transfer companies.

Dec 202012
 

In recent years, the number of scams and frauds specific to money transfer services has increased. Advances in technology have made it possible to transfer money using a variety of devices, which is tremendously handy for many people. In addition, new money transfer services have cropped up around the world.

In both cases, opportunity for dishonesty has risen. However, regulators of transfer services have also begun to look at the practices and associated fees of these companies based on increasing complaints.

Regulation Changes

Western Union storefront.

Western Union.

Transfer services will never go away because they are too valuable to both individuals and businesses. As a result, regulators have recognized that some of the existing rules needed to be modified and new rules implemented. Although some changes have already been executed, additional changes are expected to occur sometime in the near future.

One of the biggest changes is that rather than money transfer companies being regulated on a state level, the federal government will be taking over in certain areas. Then in February 2012, another change was enacted whereby customers must be given 30 minutes after the completion of a transaction to request a full refund.

Every day, millions of people depend on transfer services for sending but also receiving money for one reason or another. While the goal of reputable companies is to provide a much-needed service accompanied by affordable rates, dishonest companies have an entirely different agenda. We felt it important to provide information on some of the new regulations now being enforced, as well as other regulatory issues being addressed.

The Real Problem

The biggest issue with money transfer services is the lack of regulation for pricing structure. Without any control, the cost of services is something established by each company according to what they feel is right or the level of profit they want to make. To stay competitive, most companies maintain a similar price structure but there are also differences in the amount of fees charged. Because of this, a person might pay $10 to send money through one transfer services company and $5 through another.

Keep in mind that pricing has no cap, whether for actual fees or exchange rates. The variance in pricing has created serious concerns among consumer advocates who in turn have raised alarms to regulators.

Not surprisingly, some companies are fighting back, attempting to defend their fee structures by pointing out that they provide invaluable services to customers. But perhaps the real reason for pushing back against new regulations has more to do with the potential for losing high profits.

The Future of Transfer Services

According to experts, the business of money transfers will reach approximately $437 billion by the end of 2012. Compared to year end numbers of $387 billion recorded in 2009, it becomes clear this is a growing market that needs to be carefully scrutinized.

The primary goal of state and federal regulators is to make these companies more transparent. With this, known facts would be revealed, making it easier for consumers to choose a company with the best terms and lowest fees.

In addition, officials strongly believe transparency will encourage a higher level of competition but also allow people with low income the opportunity to find companies that offer the lowest rates.

Remember, it takes a significant amount of input from consumers, organizations, and even regulators, as well as time, for policy reform and the implementation of new regulations to take place. The good news is that things appear to be moving in the right direction specific to money transfer services.

Until all regulatory changes have been decided and executed, anyone interested in using services of this type should spend adequate time researching different companies and options. Although the fees will still be higher than what regulators want them to be at some point in the future, making comparisons would at least yield the lowest price available at that time.

Oct 052012
 

By Renee D. for SpeedyPay.info

Money transfer services have been around for many years but because of fraudulent acts in more recent times (for example people selling non-existent products online and receiving funds by Western Union), many people now question the integrity of companies that offer these services.

Even though some companies should be avoided for one reason or another, there are still a number of viable options for sending and receiving funds via the internet. In this article, we wanted to provide an overview of what money transfer services entail, as well as a few examples of key benefits and red flags that should be heeded.

What are Money Transfers?

Risks and benefits of money transfer services.

Risks and benefits of money transfer services.

While most people have a good idea of what money transfers are, we felt a brief description was necessary. In simple terms, this type of service acts as a “middleman” between one party that sends money online and another party that receives it. Today, virtually everything is done using the internet, to include various types of financial transactions. Because of this, new opportunities have been created that are beneficial but on the other hand, there is potential for risk.

Because of advancements in technology, transfers can now be completed using different types of devices. For example, Western Union transfers initially required an individual to visit a local store or branch in order to complete the appropriate paperwork.

However, money can now be sent and received using a money transfer service via computer or cell phone. Although this makes things easier and more convenient, it also creates unique challenges.

Benefits of Transfer Services

There are actually many reasons that services of this kind are beneficial. Obviously, the benefits of sending and receiving money online would be unique to the individual or organization but overall, these services provide many of the same benefits to include those listed below.

  • Services are available to large corporations, small mom and pop shops, and individuals alike.
  • Financial transactions can be completed for a variety of reasons such as making a purchase from an overseas company, paying an employee who works in a remote location, and taking care of an emergency in a different geographic area.
  • Money transfers are completed much faster than payments made with a check and in fact, most transfers are instantaneous.
  • Exposure of personal financial information to include credit card numbers is eliminated, thereby preventing identity theft and financial loss.
  • Reputable money transfer services use discretion and secured servers, but also provide a guarantee that information will never be shared or sold.

Potential Risks of Money Transfers

As mentioned, along with benefits of money transfer services are several potential risks of which a person should be aware. Keep in mind that while risks exist for transfers that occur on a national level, the greatest risks involve international transfers. Below we listed some examples of things that could go wrong if a dishonest company were used to send or receive money online.

  • Loss Protection – Unfortunately, many transfer services do not provide any type of protection against loss that might occur. Even though actual cash is not being placed in an envelope and mailed, transferring money is really no different in most instances. Scams – Someone requesting money could actually be committing a fraudulent act. Most transactions involve honest parties but with money transfers being so common and easy to complete, new methods of scamming money out of hard- working and honest people have been devised.
  • Human Error – Someone working for a transfer services company could incorrectly enter a dollar amount, bank account number, sender/recipient information, or some other piece of vital information, thus creating disaster.
  • Poor Security – One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to using money transfer services is not researching and confirming system security. Even with the most high-tech security measures in place, professional hackers can get hold of personal information although somewhat more difficult. However, if a service is handling financial transactions online but without having a robust security system in place, any funds being sent or received would be at risk, not to mention critical personal data about one or both parties.
  • Timing Issues – Most transfers are completed within minutes but a completed transaction could take much longer for systems that run on scheduled batches. A common reason money transfer services are used is to expedite a payment. Therefore, having a transaction that completes past an important deadline would create a serious problem. Now, the same problem could arise if the server on which the transfer company operates were to crash or go down for scheduled maintenance.
  • Unexpected Fees – In exchange for completing a money transfer, some type of fee is paid by the sender. The amount of fees can vary dramatically from one company to another and unfortunately, many are “hidden” in carefully worded text. As a result, the individual sending money to another party ends up being charged a significant amount of money.

Conclusion

There are valid reasons for using money transfer services but before using any company, some degree of research should be conducted to determine terms and rates. In addition, the type of security, as well as any policy specific to guarantee should be determined. While this might not eliminate risks altogether, it would certainly help diminish the chance of something going wrong.

Sep 082012
 

By Joyce Morse for SpeedyPay.info

Wire transfer scams are nothing new, but they can be hard to recognize.  You may know to be aware of the stranger that emails you asking for a large dollar amount that you can transfer to their bank account.  But what other scams might catch the unsuspecting off guard?

How to Recognize a Scam

Money transfer scam

Money transfer scam

First of all, don’t assume that scams only happen from third world countries.  The fact is that many scams happen in all countries, including the United States.  Not all scams are conducted by individuals; many use a business name to make them seem more legitimate.  Several warning signs will tip you to the possibility that you are being scammed.  Here are some things to watch for:

  • They ask you for money.  Scam artists know that if you wire money, there is no way for you to get it back.  If you are making a purchase, always use a credit card or other form of payment that provides a way to trace it.
  • They ask for money to give money.  If you have been “approved” for a loan and are asked for a payment for some kind of fee, this is a warning.
  • They ask for a large fee.  You may be told that you won a prize such as a cruise but must a processing fee.  While it is true that many things come with a fee, they will be reasonable – not several hundreds of dollars.
  • Someone contacts you to say a relative needs money for an emergency but cannot call you themselves.  Scam artists know that emotions get involved in these situations and prevent people from making reasonable decisions, which is what they are counting on.

Tips to Follow When Sending Money

Here are some guidelines on sending money to keep you from being the victim of money transfer fraud.

  • Only send money to people you know.  Since the money is gone forever when you send it and there is no way to get it back, don’t send a wire transfer to a stranger.
  • Never send money to pay for fees or other expenses on lottery winnings or other prizes.
  • Do not give out your bank account information or credit card numbers to people you don’t know.
  • Verify any situation where you are asked to send money to a relative for an emergency by someone you don’t know.
  • Never send money to someone that sent you a check until it clears.  This can take weeks for some countries.
  • Research to find a phone number and address for the business.  If you can’t find any information, be suspicious.
  • Above all, follow this rule:  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Money transfers are a valuable service as a way to send money to people and businesses, but scam artists utilize this service to conduct their fraud.  Protect yourself by being cautious with anyone who asks for money.

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.

Jul 082012
 

By Joyce Morse for SpeedyPay.info

If you have never sent money to someone before, you may wonder if it is a complicated process.  It is actually quite simple once you choose the agency you will use for your wire transfer.  Here are some things you need to know to complete the transfer.

Worldwide money transfers

Money transfer

What You Need to Send Money

  1. Provide information on how much money you will be sending and to whom.  You will need to know the account information to where you will send the money.  You will also need to give your bank information.
  2. Make sure you have the funds in your account available for transfer.
  3. Get a confirmation number or receipt once you have sent the money.

It is a good idea to verify that the money has been received with the party you are sending the transfer to.  Also find out how long it will take for the money to be in the account.

Receiving Money Through a Transfer

If you are going to be the recipient of a money transfer, you will need to provide your bank account information to them so they can wire the money into your account.  Be careful in giving out private information to people you don’t know.  Depending on the service they use, you will most likely need to provide the following information.

  • Name and address of the bank
  • Routing number of the bank
  • Account number of the bank
  • Your name as it appears on the account

Find out if any fees are associated with the money transfer.  You can either pay them out of the money being sent to you or request the sender to pay them in addition to what is being sent to you.

Ask the sender when they will be sending the money transfer and how long it will take to receive it.  Monitor your account to see when the transaction has been completed.  It can take up to two days for the money to be received, depending on the bank.

Once the money is in your account, it is available for immediate use.  You can withdraw it the same day.

What if you don’t have a bank account?  Services such as Western Union make it possible to receive money through cash transfer if you don’t have a bank account.  To send money, you just have to pay cash for the wire transfer and provide the recipient information.

If you are receiving cash from a money transfer, you will need to have a photo ID and the tracking number from the Sender for your transfer.  With Western Union, they can also deliver the money to your home or office via prepaid card.
It is easy to send or receive money whether you have a bank account or not.  Make sure you know the policy of the money transfer company that is being used so that you make the transfer with no problem.

Sep 212011
 

By W.H.A.| SpeedyPay.info

Western Union has announced that they are teaming up with a company called TouchNet to offer a new payment service for international students. Students will have to options:

1. They will be able to pay their tuition fees in local currency directly from their bank accounts.

2. They can pay their fees in cash at participating Western Union offices around the world.

Western Union

Western Union

There are millions of students studying in foreign countries, and Western Union is looking to make the tuition payment process easier for them, and of course make a profit in the process.

Western Union, whose stock symbol is WU, has been expanding aggressively into a number of new markets, and offering new products. Their stock peaked at $22 per share in March 2011, and is currently trading at $16.

Jul 222011
 

By W.H.A.| SpeedyPay.info

A new U.S. consumer agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been formed to put a spotlight on the wire transfers, or remittances, that companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram offer as a way for consumers to get cash to relatives in the Caribbean, Latin America and other foreign countries.

Public interest groups have expressed concern that the money transfer market has been insufficiently monitored, and as a result immigrants and others who use these services have been forced to pay excessive fees in many cases.

Worldwide money transfers

A new government bureau has been formed to study money transfer services

The new consumer bureau will examine the remittances market and implement ules that require companies to disclose information about fees and the exchange rate before the consumer pays for the wire transfer. Also, the disclosures will now be required to be in English and in each of the foreign languages the remittance transfer provider uses to market its services.

“International money transfers can be a vital link to family members and friends abroad,” said White House adviser Elizabeth Warren in a statement Wednesday. “Information about exchange rates has the potential to help remittance senders make smarter choices about which services best meet their needs.”

The World Bank estimates that the total volume of remittance transfers to developing countries reached $325 billion last year and that the U.S. is the largest remittance-sending country in the world. The majority of remittances from the U.S. are sent to the Caribbean and Latin America, according to the Federal Reserve.

Residents of the United States are the largest senders of international money remittances per year. The majority of remittances from the U.S. are sent to the Caribbean and Latin America.

Apr 012011
 
El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas

News channel 9 out of southern Texas reports that Texas Representative Leo Berman is proposing a fee of eight percent for those who wire money from Texas to Latin America.

Berman says the money raised from these higher fees could be given to county health care facilities.

“By just making illegal aliens pay an 8% tax on money they’re sending out of Texas anyway, we can raise about $400 million,” Berman said.

Note the assumption that anyone who uses a remittance service to send money to Latin America must be illegal. Beyond that, the real problem is that Berman isn’t proposing a rise in fees for sending money to Europe or Asia. Only Latin America is targeted. The effect would be to make it more difficult for Latinos in Texas to send money home to relatives and family south of the border. It’s a way of sending a message to the Latino community, particularly those who came to the USA to work, saying, “You are not welcome here.”

People like Maria Medes, who consistently send money to their families in Mexico and other Latin American countries say that fee is more than they can handle.

“We don’t have they money to pay more. It would make sending money a lot harder,” Medes said.

People like Arturo Escobar and Medes say they think the proposal is racist.

“It’s racist if someone sends money to one country and doesn’t have to pay but, to another they do. Of course, it’s racism,” Medes said.

“It’s not fair. Why are there countries where you wouldn’t have to pay, but Latino countries you would. That’s unjust,” Escobar said.

Berman says, it doesn’t matter what country you’re from, just what country you’re sending money to.

“We’re just targeting an area of the world where 99% of the illegal aliens come from,” Berman said.

Here at SpeedyPay.info we condemn this proposal. No one should be discouraged from sending money to family members overseas. Government has no business trying to penalize people because they come from a certain region. The fees for services such as sending money and remittances should be determined by a competitive marketplace, not by a zealous ideology.