Sep 052014

By Mohammed Waseem

Ireland based CurrencyFair lets users send money to approximately 100 countries. They promise best exchange rate and low fees compared to a typical bank transfer. They allow transfers into bank accounts, but confirm the identity of the sender and the purpose of transfer before approving it. Around 16 currencies are available for exchange. Senders can deposit money in these supported currencies and select the recipient’s preferred currency as well. Apart fro Ireland, they have offices in Australia and the UK.

The process of sending money is simple. All the sender has to do is deposit money into CurrencyFair’s account, exchange it between the supported currencies and then transfer the money. The exchange happens in two ways; senders either instruct the best rate to be chosen from the marketplace or choose the rate themselves at the right time. This way, they have more control over the transfer.

CurrencyFairThe fee applicable is almost 10% of typical bank transfers. In addition, they guarantee a lower exchange rate margin, thus saving the sender a lot of money. The exchange fee could be anywhere between 0.15% and 0.5% of the amount exchanged, depending on the situation. On an average, the fee is 0.35% of the amount exchanged plus a fixed fee of €3. This is compared with more than ten times the fee charged by the banks.

For making the transfer, or for adding the recipient’s account for most countries, CurrencyFair requires IBAN or SWIFT codes. For the US, they require ABA number, New Zealand and Australia a BSB number, Hong Kong and Singapore a clearing code and the UK a sort code.

The transfer times depend on the currency pair and the country where the particular account (or a foreign currency account) is held. For example, the AED account is held in London, so it would require a SWIFT code for transfer and would require 2-4 business days for deposit and a similar time for transfer. If the sender wants to deposit or exchange Polish Zloty, the time taken is not more than 1 business day, or 2 in rare cases.

It is really simple to create an account and use it. So if senders are interested they can begin exchanging and sending money, now.

Aug 112009
UK Post Office box

UK Post Office box

Magda Ali writes at that the British Post Office has launched a new Overseas Property Money Transfer service which allows people to transfer money between UK and overseas bank accounts. Customers can fix the rate of exchange for up to a year, which protects them against currency fluctuations.

”Until now, many users of international bank to bank money transfer services have found it to be an expensive business, with limited options for small transfers,” said Sarah Munro, Post Office head of money transfers, said. “They have often been unable to capitalise on the great rates offered by currency specialists because they weren’t buying in bulk. And they were also at the mercy of volatile currency markets, making it harder to get the most from their money.”

The service is aimed at people who:

  • make payments on foreign mortgages
  • own property overseas and have costs associated with maintaining that property
  • are paying utility bills
  • are bringing money back to the UK after selling property overseas
  • and others with regular payments such as pensions, salaries or school fees

”The Post Office Overseas Property Money Transfer service offers customers the ability to fix at a competitive exchange rate, giving them peace of mind for up to a year, which is a real advantage in current markets,” said Munro. “We calculate that with 0 per cent commission and our competitive exchange rates we will be saving customers a serious amount of money if they’ve just sold their house or are paying a deposit on a new property.”

The Post Office claims that a customer who transfers, for example, £700 over the course of a year, would save £528 in fees by using the Post Office’s money transfer service.Wow! That’s a huge savings. I don’t know if something like this would fly in the USA as private companies would object. I recently spent three years in Panama and transferring funds was a costly and complicated affair. I could have used a service like this. I imagine British citizens living overseas, or living in the UK with regular costs overseas, will find this service to be quite a relief.

Sep 302007

New online payment service by Steve Case

A new online payment service is about to make its debut. Big deal, there’s a thousand of them, right? True, but in this case the service, called Revolution Money, is being introduced by none other than Steve Case, the co-founder of America Online Internet Service – AOL. The new service will allow users to make online payments for free – wow! – and will offer sharply lower fees for online merchants.

The company is backed by Case’s investment firm, Revolution LLC, which led a $50 million round of venture capital funding that also included Citi and Morgan Stanley. The company’s still in the pilot stage. The new subsidiary’s chairman will be Ted Leonsis, vice chairman emeritus of AOL LLC and majority owner of the Washington Capitals and Washington Mystics.

Revolution Money will compete directly against the most popular online payment systems, such as the industry leader Paypal and the newcomer Google Checkout. Can Revolution Money be successful in this space? What do they bring to the table that’s new or interesting?

Revolution Money’s Online Payment Offerings

Revolution Money plans to make its mark by offering customers a number of interesting features, such as:

1. AOL users will be able to make online payments free of charge through AOL’s AIM instant messaging service. This service will be called Revolution MoneyExchange.

2. A credit card called RevolutionCard will be offered that carries an interchange fee of only 0.5%, compared to the typical charge of 1.9% for other credit cards. Apparently Revolution Money can offer this lower rate because the internet-based payment system costs less to run, and they pass this savings on to consumers.

3. Revolution will offer an anonymous credit card with no name or account number on it with the aim of reducing the risk of identity theft. The user’s identity and card number cannot be stolen because it’s not printed on the card.

My Take

Steve Case says, “Traditional, and even online, incumbents have been charging what adds up to billions of dollars of fees every year that ultimately comes out of consumers’ pockets. Revolution Money’s goal, he said, is an “easy-to-use and secure payment system that puts money back where it belongs, in consumers’ pockets.”

Sounds good to me. One question, however, is whether the free online payment service will be offered only to AOL users, or will be expanded to the internet community at large. My impression is that Revolution Money has signed AOL on as a partner to get off the ground, but later on will widen the service to anyone who wants to join.

If this happens, I have no doubt that people will abandon Paypal in droves. I mean, who isn’t tired of paying Paypal’s fees even for small transactions?

Revolution Money has not said when the service would go live, but I would imagine that we could look for it sometime early next year.

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.

May 152007

MoneyGram International

MoneyGram Services, MoneyGram Locations, and MoneyGram for Travelers

Which is the Best Money Transfer Service?

Our Long-Time Favorite: MoneyGram

We like MoneyGram for a number of reasons, including price (cheaper than Western Union), the breadth of their global money transfer network, ease of use (does not require complicated verification like Paypal), and their involvement in local communities.

What Services Does MoneyGram Offer?

MoneyGram International provides money transfer services, money orders, and bill payment services to consumers. Another segment of MoneyGram International provides financial institutions with payment processing services, primarily of official check outsourcing services and money orders for sale to their customers.

The major corporate competitor of MoneyGram is Western Union, which is considerably larger than MoneyGram.

MoneyGram Money Transfer Network Locations

Through the MoneyGram international money transfer network of approximately 100,000 agent locations worldwide, customers can wire cash quickly (usually within 10 minutes), reliably, conveniently and at attractive prices to recipients in 170 countries. Customers in U.S. can also use the Internet to send money using MoneyGram eMoney Transfers.

MoneyGram Versus Western Union

MoneyGram usually costs less than Western Union and offers consumers additional value by giving them a complimentary 3-minute phone call to tell the receiver the money is available. Moneygram also includes a ten-word message to accompany the funds, the offer of a free MoneySaver Card discount and 100% guaranteed service (Note: service offerings may vary by geographic region).

Who Uses MoneyGram Money Transfers?

MoneyGram money transfers are used by people without traditional banking relationships, people who send money to their home country, traditional bank customers in need of emergency money transfer services, tourists without local bank accounts, and businesses in the United States that need rapid and economical wire transfer services.

MoneyGram is one of the fastest ways available to send funds. MoneyGram funds are sent electronically, and can be collected by the recipient from any MoneyGram agency. This makes MoneyGram an ideal option for those without access to a bank account, or for countries where it takes time and money to carry out your banking.

MoneyGram ExpressPayment

MoneyGram Payment Systems also offers ExpressPayment, an economical bill payment service, that allows consumers to pay their auto, mortgage, credit card and other bills fast. Consumers who use MoneyGram’s ExpressPayment get guaranteed delivery of their payment. ExpressPayment is currently available at MoneyGram agents within the United States and via the Internet.

MoneyGram’s Charitable Activities

MoneyGram gives back and invests in the communities where they do business by sponsoring and participating at local community events. MoneyGram has also donated its services for humanitarian causes. For example, for 30 days after Hurricane Katrina, MoneyGram International waived its fees for sending contributions to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.

Advice for Travelers: Use MoneyGram

If you are travelling and find yourself out of money, a wire transfer service provided by American Express can help you tap friends and family for emergency funds. Through MoneyGram (tel. 800/926-9400;, money can be sent around the world in less than ten minutes.

Senders should call Amex to learn the address of the closest outlet that handles MoneyGrams. Cash and credit/charge cards are acceptable forms of payment.

MoneyGram’s fee for the cash transfer service is $19 for the first $50, with a sliding scale for larger sums. The MoneyGram service includes a short telex message and a 3-minute phone call from sender to recipient. You must present a photo ID at the MoneyGram outlet where the money is received when you pick it up.

Mar 012007

Speedy Pay header Everything you need to know to send money quickly and easily

Up to date reviews of money transfer services like MoneyGram, Western Union, Paypal, Xoom, SWIFT, IBAN bank transfers, foreign remittance specialists, and more.

In recent posts we have reviewed the money transfer services offered by MoneyGram and Xoom, and we explained the history and use of SWIFT transfers.

Our MoneyGram article is quite extensive. We took a detailed look at MoneyGram services, price (cheaper than Western Union), the breadth of their global money transfer network, ease of use (does not require complicated verification like Paypal), and their involvement in local communities.

If you haven’t heard of Xoom money transfer service, check out our brief review. We used the service for some time and are generally happy with it, with only a few small quirks.

In past issues we have reviewed a number of money transfer services in detail. Those articles are now archived. We are re-organizing the archives, but expect to have those articles available again for viewing soon.

We reviewed Western Union, analyzing their affordability for sending money overseas in particular, and discussing the propensity that international scammers seem to have for Western Union.We have also explored the cost of wiring money from a bank, or doing a bank to bank transfer as a means of sending money to someone else, or transferring money between your own accounts.

And we did a complete issue on Paypal, with particular emphasis on Paypal’s customer service (or lack thereof), and the possibility of using Paypal as the equivalent of an online bank account, keeping the money in the currency of your choice in order to facilitate business in various parts of the world and escape U.S. dollar inflation.

In future issues we’re going to take a good look at solutions for sending or remitting money to particular countries, as our readers want more information on this subject. In particular, we will determine the best money transfer services for remittances to the Philippines, remittances to India, and sending money to China. We may also try to crack some of the really tough nuts, like sending money to Pakistan, which has become much more difficult in recent years.We are also planning a complete issue on money orders: postal money orders, international money orders, etc. So stay tuned, bookmark us, and return often!