Whether it’s making a payment for an overseas property, sending money to a relative, donating to a charity, or topping up a bank account back home, there are plenty of reasons why expats might need to make an international money transfer. Here’s a roundup of business profiles and expert advice to help you in your approach.
WorldFirst is a global currency specialist that helps individuals, businesses and online sellers save money on their international currency transfers. We spoke with the team about their Singapore operations and the kinds of transfers they carry out on a daily business.
Tell us about the company’s history and the expansion into Singapore.
Since 2004, more than 280,000 individuals, businesses and online sellers have used WorldFirst to transact more than S$110 billion. The company operates all over the world and has over 600 employees based in eight locations across Singapore, Sydney, London, Amsterdam, Austin, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Tokyo. We set up shop in Singapore in 2013 and due to growth in the local team have recently relocated to bigger offices in Shenton Way.
What types of transfers does the company manage?
WorldFirst facilitates currency transfers for a range of different reasons, such as sending money to family overseas, and international education costs, to multi-million dollar transfers for businesses and high net worth individuals. Transfer amounts range from small payments (minimum of S$2,000) to millions of dollars. There’s no limit to how much you can transfer.
What are some of the financial incentives for customers to do a private or business money transfer with you?
Our exchange rates are up to three times cheaper than local and international banks and access the same interbank rate that the mainstream banks trade currency at. The key difference is that WorldFirst takes a smaller margin and passes the savings to its customers. We also have dedicated relationship managers to better facilitate payment efficiency, and we offer $0 fees on private transfers.
How can customers be sure their money is secure?
WorldFirst is MAS regulated and fully complies with all Singaporean and international regulations. We are transparent about positive financial position and keep more than S$10m collateral with our banks to ensure security against transactions.
Did You Know?
* Globally, the Singapore dollar remains the twelfth most traded currency and the third most traded currency in Asia
* The Singapore foreign exchange market is the third largest in the world and the largest in APAC
* SGD/USD remains the most traded currency pair in the Singapore market
* In April 2016, foreign exchange turnover averaged US$135 billion per day
* In 2016, worldwide remittance flows totalled $575 billion
* Almost a quarter of a billion people – or 3.4 percent of the world population – live outside their countries of birth
Finofin Ltd offers comparisons of financial services and products across the globe. Its popular website MoneyTransferComparison.com provides reviews of 30 international money transfer companies, with info about services offered, rates and customer feedback. Here, they detail the four steps in the money transfer process.
Step 1: Sign up with an international money transfer company.
Step 2: Speak to a dealer, find out about fees and see if they match your requirements. The only fees should be exchange rate mark-ups (the difference between the official inter-bank rate and the rate you’ll get), which will range from 0.3 to 1.5% depending on amount, currency, negotiation and more.
Step 3: If you like the rates at any particular moment, book a trade through the company’s online system or via telephone. Most large companies also offer a Forward Contract, which allows you to fix today’s rate for a period of time.
Step 4: Fund the money transfer.
Things to look out for:
* Be aware of how much money your recipient will get.
* Know your rights – if you’ve booked a deal, the rate should be fixed at that instance.
* If you’re moving a large amount, don’t settle for the initial price; try to haggle.
* Beware of honeymoon rates, where companies give great rates on a first transfer and then widen margins over time.
* It’s better to pay more and use a credible provider.
For more information, go to moneytransfercomparison.com.
Created in 2010 out of frustration with the high fees charged by banks on international money transfers – and with Sir Richard Branson among its many high-profile investors – TransferWise launched in Singapore in 2017. The company’s CEO Taavet Hinrikus says, “TransferWise is a great step forward in creating a financial services sector that is focused on what’s best for the customer, rather than what’s best for the banks.”
#1 It’s cheaper: TransferWise uses the real exchange rate (aka the mid-market rate) without any hidden mark-up fees, making the service five to seven times cheaper than banks to send $1,000 abroad and three times cheaper to send $5,000. And there’s no minimum transaction.
#2 It’s faster: On routes from Singapore, the service is typically one to three days faster than banks and other remittance companies, with GBP, EUR or AUD exchanges within 12 hours and USD within the day.
#3 It’s fairer: Banks could charge you up to 5% in hidden costs when sending money to any bank account abroad. TransferWise, on the other hand, charges between 0.5% to 1% of the amount you’re sending.
To sign up for an account and set up a transfer, visit transferwise.com.
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