All posts by borderle

Why money transfers should be easy as ABC

Money transfers seem to be something quite simple when we talk about it but for many of us it is not that easy. The main problem is that we do not know how to proceed or are misinformed about the process and end-up paying outrageous fees. According to the World Bank, each year around $600 billion are transferred internationally and it generally costs 10% of the amount transferred. Here is an article explaining why it does not have to be so expensive and complicated to make money transfers.




Why money transfers are expensive?

The main reason for that is because most people who make international transfers are using either their banks or dinosaurs such as Western Union. These operators are notorious for incurring outrageous fees on each transfer. Most of the time the exchange rate they apply is poorer than the real one at the moment of your transfer and they keep the difference for themselves. They also generally apply a fixed fee for each transfer regardless of the amount you transfer.

Money transfers are expensive because these actors have been operating on the market for ages and are in a relatively monopoly situation. As you know such situations do not encourage decreases in prices like when the competition is intense. However, for the last couple of years, new actors entered the market and they offer much better prices for international money transfers. These actors operators 100% online which helps them reduce their fixed costs but the main thing about them is that they do not incur hidden or outrageous fees.


Why money transfers should be easy?

The money transfer industry is quite an old one (Western Union was created in 1851!) but it seems that it has not evolved much lately. Sending money abroad is still complicated for many of us as we lack information about all the solutions that exist out there. We could compare it to the airplane industry a couple of years ago before comparison platform such as Google flights or Skyscanner were created. At that time, it was no easy to choose the company from which you’d buy tickets. I guess we would always go for the same without taking time to compare them as it was too time consuming. If we had to travel from the USA to France, we would go for a French or American airline company but certainly not a Spanish or Australian one as we could choose today.

Applying this to money transfers helps you realize that there are so many options today that it is a nonsense to say that your bank or Western Union is the cheapest solution to send 1’000€ between France and the USA for example. Given the number of actors on the market there is an increasing need for comparing them.


It might take some more time but money transfers are on a good way to become simple and cheap!


Everything you need to know about international money transfer

You probably guess what is at stake when one speaks about international money transfer. Indeed the expression is pretty obvious. However it is a bit more complicated than just wiring money from 2 banks accounts located in different countries. Here is a short article that will give you a bigger picture.



What is behind international money transfer?

Basically we talk about international money transfer when foreign currencies are exchanged. Most of the time it happens through a wire transfer between two banks. The World Bank estimates that each year around $600 billion are sent worldwide as remittances. They are mainly sent by expats, foreign students (or their parents) and migrant workers.

To get back to the transfer itself: what happens is that a certain amount of US dollar for example is sent to Mexico. This means that this amount as to be converted into Mexican pesos. This conversion is defined by the exchange rate. For example 1 USD = 20,64 MXN. This equation means that for 1 US dollar you can get 20,64 MXN. However this amount can vary as exchange rates are defined by the foreign exchange market which fluctuates depending on the market demand. Therefore, it means that some days are better than others to make an international money transfer, depending on the value of the exchange rate.


How to make an international money transfer?

Now that you have understood the importance of the exchange rate when making an international money transfer, let see what are your options.

Let’s say that you are a French student living in San Francisco for a year. Your parents have to send you money each month to pay for your day-to-day life. You have open a bank account in a local bank as it will cost you too much to use your French debit card. However, you should tell your parents not to send you money through a wire transfer from their French bank to your US account. Indeed, you’ll get a very bad surprise if you do so: the fees generally applied by banks are extremely high. Moreover they apply a poorer exchange rate than the real one and keep the difference for themselves.


Today there are more and more options to make international money transfer and the cheapest ones are probably online operators. Indeed, they charge you around 3 to 5% of the amount sent, whereas banks will charge you around 10%. One thing you should get used to do is to compare the solutions before making your international money transfer.


International money transfers: who will beat the competition?

New fintech startups as TFW or WR and recent interest of banks are deeply transforming the whole international money transfers market. So, who will beat the competition? Let’s read guys!


The new money transfer operators with innovative models less expensive, making partnerships with banks to scale their business, is completely renewing the international money transfers market. According to the worldwide bank, 500+ companies (including banks) are fighting for the cake. Moneytis, a french money transfer comparison service, counts 200+ companies, excluding banks and non-licensed actors.

Of course, the market is very attractive: more than 5% of growth rate each year! “It is 500 billion EUR each year, and could reach 1’000 billion in the next ten years, says Christophe from the french startup. The market is growing because there is more and more expatriates, digital nomads, students abroad and migrants in the world”.

TFW represents the most impressive success in the fintech industry. The british startup just made public its volume of transactions: 1,07 billion of dollars each month, +50% each last 6 months, for 600 000 transactions. Its business model is very new compared to its competitors. TFW applies really weak fees, actually, compared to banks, WU and others.

Christophe analyzes: “If someone wants to send money to UK, TFW waits for someone who wants to make a money transfer in the other way. So the money never moves. So no fees.”


The market is very competitive, TFW had to invest a lot to get new customers. “We are talking about more than 50€ for each new customer. Keywords about money transfers are very expensive, you know”.


TFW creates a lot of trust, which help it to get new customers. The user experience is very friendly and easy.


Other startups also try to take a piece of cake, as Wordlremit.


To face those new models, WU, who stays the most visible actor and the most famous, does another bet. Very expensive for small amounts, the company targets migrants, on the contrary to WR or TFW.


Traditional banks are late but their strength help them to stay active. They can spend a lot, and the new market need education to make people know about it.


The best movies about money

Ok we talk too seriously about money on this blog. I heard you guys. To take a break (no, I’m not going to eat a kit-kat), let’s talk about cinema and movies. But we stay in our main topic: we are going to talk about the best movies around money.

Money money money according to Di Caprio acting
Money money money according to Di Caprio acting


The wolf of Wall-Street

Scorcese, DiCaprio, Jonah Hill… Everything was going well from the beginning for this crazy movie.

I saw it twice. For a 2h30 movie, it means I liked it. Really liked it.

The money is more than omnipresent in this movie.

The first part is all about Wall Street and how bankers enjoy life making a lot of money. The second part is more focused on the hero, to see how money killed himself, inside at least.

It’s a good way to take some distance with the today world, how speculators took down the world and poor people.

Wall Street: Money never Sleeps

I have not seen this movie yet, but I definitely have too. A lot of friends told me it was one of the best movie on the subject. When I told them I was created an article about it, they told me: you have to see it before! But I didn’t take time to.

Plus, I love a lot Shia Labeouf acting so I can’t be disappointed.

The Big Short

The casting here is just AMAZING. Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling for the 3 I just remember.

This movie is the most complicated of all to understand, it is mainstream but you still need to know a bit about economy.

Capitalism, a love story

Michael Moore makes here a film/documentary about how the capitalism impacts the world, on a daily basis.

Michael Moore always takes an angle to demonstrate its own ideas, so it’s not dark as he wants to make it think, but there is some good to take here.

As you can see, I chose only recent movies. Because I saw them not a long time ago, and I still have it in mind.


Who are the actors in money transfers?

Both individuals or businesses need to do international money transfers. The first time you need to move money across countries it can be difficult to know how to do it to optimize the transfer. However the options are not missing. Many actors operate in money transfers. Here is a quick overview.


The Banks: the biggest actors in money transfers

The solution the most known: 95% of the people use their bank to do a transfer. The pros is that it is simple safe and secure as a bank already know all your personal information. That said it depends because with more and more regulations it is not so easy to make an international transfer sometimes with a bank. It doesn’t allow you to transfer in every country. But the real con with banks is that they take huge fees on your transfer and you don’t even know it because the fees are hidden in the exchange rate used. An international transfer can be advantageous with banks if the recipient has an account abroad with a branch of your local bank.

The foreign exchange brokers (FX brokers)

Another actor in money transfers: the brokers. The latter are specialised in exchange of currencies. They can provide better exchange rates than banks but they are only to use for large sums to transfer because there is a minimum transfer amount to operate and their rates are not so advantageous for small transactions. They are advantageous for big amounts to transfer. A few steps are required to create an account with them and book a transfer. Ideal for someone doing regular transactions or for businesses sending a lot of money abroad. You’re directly in contact with a broker.

The traditional money transfer operators  (MTO)

You probably know the traditional money transfer operators which are Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria money transfer. They are so huge that they almost own all the market in cash-to-cash transfer to them three.

The online MTO, peer-to-peer companies

At last there are the peer-to-peer MTO. They are the most recent as they all appear in the last ten years. They are really innovative, online, cheap and easy to use. They allow to drastically reduce fees in money transfers. The average cost of sending money abroad with an online MTO is in average 2% to 3%. They are really interesting actors because they are new, innovative, and all can be made online. They provide a wide range of payment and delivery methods. With your bank or with a broker you can only do bank-to-bank transfer. With online MTO you can pay by credit card, debit card and you can receive the money by cash pickup, bank deposit, mobile wallet, mobile recharge and even by email. The only con they have right now is that sometimes there is a maximum amount to operate but this is gonna evolve with the growing market. More and more people hear about these MTO. A good example is Transferwise.

The blockchain network

At last there are the blockchain networks based on a new revolutionary technology. They will be in the future the cheapest options but at the moment the market liquidity is limited, and it’s usability not really optimized for a large public. If you need more informations about the blockchain, feel free to check their site:

Here you go you know all the options to do money transfers. If you want to know more check here a at a comparison service


The worst advice you’ve ever heard about money transfer

I recently became an expatriate as I moved from France (my home country) to Canada for my job. Quickly I got aware of the notion of money transfer as I needed to pay back my student loan in France. I was a totally beginner as I never had to send money internationally.

How I got informed about money transfer

Like many people now, I went online and asked for help on forums or expats groups on Facebook. I got responses quite easily but the issue was that none of them was the same. My question was simple: what money transfer operator do you use.

One would advise me to use WorldRemit, another one told me about Western Union, Ria etc, etc. Some even pushed one solution with a dedicated link asking me to use it to make sure they’ll get paid!

Many answers also seemed based on personal beliefs and no one was able to justify with figures or solid arguments their position. Some examples I read:

“Western Union is the best, I’ve been using it for more than 10 years” – ok but it’s not because you’re using a service for a long time that it is the best right?

“Moneygram is great, I use it to send money back to my uncle in India who does not have a bank account” – I’m not sure I am not sure we have the same needs.

The good thing about that process is that I got familiar with the main actors of the money transfer industry. However I could not tell which one was good for me. So I had to do some research by myself.

How I found reliable information about money transfer

I cannot remember how but at some point during my researches I found Moneytis: a comparison platform for money transfer operators. I found many reliable information about different actors in the industry in very detailed reviews. But the best part of this website is that with 3 clicks you can access a comparison of all the services operating between 2 countries for a given amount.

For example, if I select Canada to France for CAD 1000, here is what I get:


As you see for each service I know how much it will cost me, how long it will take for the transfer to be made and how easy is the platform to use.

In the end I strongly recommend to use Moneytis as you’ll get a clear and simple way to find the best operator for your money transfer. It’s important to get people’s feedback but most of the time I will not necessarily fit your own needs.


Money transfer taboo you should break

Money transfer is something people living abroad don’t talk about. Actually they sometimes talk about the money transfer operator but not more. Indeed we don’t want to share how much money we transfer.


What is the money transfer taboo?

Well. Ask any expatriate, migrant or international student about money transfers. He or she will answer that he is currently using his bank to perform money transfers. When you ask whether it’s easy. He will say yes of course. Because he is so smart you know. But in fact it’s a mess to deal with money transfers with your bank. Everybody knows. Nobody says.

Second case. Ask someone the same thing. He might answer that he is using his bank. Is it cheap? Yes of course, because his banker loves him so much. Bankers are nice obviously. They might think we will become rich one day. No no no! Bankers take money from their clients. There is no money transfer which is free because it costs a lot to the bank and the bank is not a non governmental organization! There is no free service. There is no free bank.

Third case. Ask someone about how he is transferring money. He will either answer he is using a special partnership with his HSBC account so that money transfer is free for him #false; or he will answer he is using Worldremit and that WorldRemit is a free service which charges only if you really are a bad guy. But the service only charges others. Not him. Obviously.

Then you might ask a 15524th guy. Me. I will answer that everyone is struggling but it’s a taboo to say you struggle because you might appear to be stupid. I will answer that everyone is paying low fees at the beginning, that fees are hidden in the exchange rate and when you send money you don’t see the fees. Of course you’re not going to make the calculation because it’s a job. However their invoice doesn’t reflect the real amount they charge us. Last but not least I will answer that everybody speaking about Transferwise thinks it’s a very cheap way to send money internationally even though they recently doubled the fix cost for money transfers from the UK. You are not proud. Nobody is proud when he pays more. And  nobody is telling because he is not proud… Taboo!

Why is it important to break all taboos about money transfers?

Just imagine a world where everybody would share how much they transferred and how much it costed to them? Is it good? Yes and No. Some people will realize that some others are rich. They will be jealous or become friendly. It will change the relationships they have.

Anyway you might choose to keep the relationships as they are. You might therefore keep taboos. At the end the ones who pay are you and your friends. And the ones who get your money are the money transfer services, the banks and the currency exchange specialists. Is this smart? What do you prefer?

I hope you realize now how important it is to stop keep secrets between friends. We need to share in order to make the economy improve. And if we don’t the industry has an advantage on us. I can’t bear the fact that because we decided to hide things to our friends there are companies which profit from us and screw us financially. Let’s change our habits. Let’s be more responsible and make them adapt to smart communities sharing smart ideas.


What happens if Filipinos suddenly stop to make international money transfers?

Filipinos can be considered the world champions of international money transfer. The Philippines currently rank number 3 in the countries that receive the most remittance each year, according to the World Bank.

Why Filipinos make international money transfers?

According to the World Bank, 5.4 million of Filipinos are living outside of their home countries. There is even an acronym dedicated to them: OFW, Overseas Filipinos Workers. In 2015, they sent $28 billion in international money transfer. Over the last 3 years, remittances have increased by 20%, representing today 13,5% of the country’s GDP. You can easily imagine the terrible consequences for the local economy if the remittances would suddenly.


Most Filipinos’ international money transfer mainly come from the USA (representing one-third of the total remittances with 3.5 million filipinos living in the country) then Saudi Arabia, UAE, Canada (750 million) and Malaysia. In total, 34% of the adult population is receiving remittances from relatives living abroad.

How do they make international money transfer?

12% of Filipinos use a financial institutions send money home. However using such institutions is by far the most expensive way to make an international money transfer. Indeed for such transfers you’ll pay on average 10% of the amount in fees.

58% of OFW use a money transfer operators for their international money transfer.

What is exactly a money transfer operator? There are two types of them:

  • The “traditional” ones such as Western Union or Moneygram. Even though they are probably the most famous one, they are very expensive. Expect to pay also 10% fees with such operators.
  • The new actors operating 100% online such as Transferwise or WorldRemit. Currently, they are the cheapest option you could go for as they cost on average 2% of the amount transferred.

One key stake about remittances in the Philippines is to be able to reduce their costs. They currently cost an average of 8%, which means that each year $2.3 billion are literally disappearing (actually going to the banks). I let you imagine what could be done if this amount could be saved each year on all international money transfer.