Azimo, MoneyGram, Remitly, TransferWise, or WU?

 

Updated

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Millions of people from developing and emerging countries relocate to developed countries to earn higher wages, for example, Latin Americans who migrate to the United States for work. Wages, low or high, in developed countries often exceed salaries in developing countries. While migrants try to find better opportunities, sending money back home is often an objective as well.

Remittance is the money immigrants send to their families residing in their native countries. Globally, migrants sent an estimated $466 billion to developing countries in 2017. The top nations to receive remittances are India, China, the Philippines, Mexico, and Nigeria. That’s a lot of money, and where billions flow, financial institutions are quick to follow.

Sending money and money transfers aren’t new. Money transfer companies like Western Union and MoneyGram have been around for decades. Some banks have been around for centuries. What is new are the many financial technology companies (FinTechs) that facilitate online money transfers at a fraction of the cost of traditional businesses. FinTechs aim to “disrupt” conventional lines of business by operating efficiently to pass savings to their customers.

While money can be sent for free or at a low cost through some FinTechs, some individuals pay ridiculous fees. For example, people can spend as much as 9 percent to remit to Sub-Saharan Africa. Paying high costs is a way of life for people who live in underdeveloped areas. However, where internet providers, mobile operators, and internet cafes exist; there are alternatives.

What Is the Difference?

Money transfer and remittance companies are similar but differ in their goals and send/receive options. PayPal is a well-known provider of online money transfer services. It enables customers to send and receive money by email and online money accounts. PayPal’s primary objective isn’t remittance, which is why it acquired Xoom. Xoom, Remitly, WorldRemit, and other remittance-focused companies target convenience, costs, and ways to pay and collect money. For instance, Remitly customers can pick up money at 15,000 locations in Mexico whereas PayPal doesn’t deal with cash pickups. Cash pickups are critical for the unbanked and underbanked, that is, people without bank accounts or small bank accounts.

Considerations

When evaluating providers, exchange rates and fees are two of several items to understand and compare.

  • The quoted exchange or conversion rate. The best exchange rate you can get is known as the real-time or mid-market rate. I call it the “Google rate” because Google showcases real-time rates between two currencies in its search results. Most money transfer providers quote non-real-time rates to profit from bid-ask spreads. For example, if real-time rates are 1.31/1.32, a dealer might quote 1.28/1.36. The dealer would buy at 1.28 and sell at 1.35.
  • The fixed or percentage-based fee. Companies will quote a fixed or percentage-based rate to convert currencies. For example, $3.99 or 1 percent of the total amount exchanged.
  • Funding methods. Funding methods may include bank transfer, debit card, credit card, in-house credit, or cash for in-person transfers.
  • Ways to send money. Ways to send money might include in-person, phone, online, and app.
  • Ways to receive/collect money: Ways to accept money might include bank account, online money account, and cash pickup.
  • Processing times. Processing times vary depending on how a transfer is funded, sent, and received. For online transfers, the process can take minutes to a few business days.
  • Transparency. Transparency refers to how transparent a company is regarding its exchange rates, fees, and processing times. For example, the company provides a transfer calculator/transaction estimator and does not force a user to create an account or submit payment before getting transaction details.
  • Tracking. Tracking methods might include SMS/mobile notification, email notification, account activity/status, and customer support.
  • Currencies. Currencies matter to the point that the currency or currencies you need are supported.
Remittance Companies

A few reputable companies come to mind for transferring money. Those providers support the top remittance destinations along with many other countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Guatemala, and Colombia.

  1. Azimo
  2. MoneyGram
  3. Remitly
  4. TransferWise
  5. Western Union
  6. Xoom
  7. Revolut
  8. WorldRemit

Azimo – Founded 2012

Azimo is the “better way” to transfer money worldwide. It’s “fast, safe, simple and you can do it all online, or on your mobile, to fit in with how we live today.” Services/products:

MoneyGram – Founded 1940

MoneyGram is a global provider of money transfer services. Whether online or through a mobile device, at a kiosk or in a local store, it “connects consumers any way that is convenient for them.”

Remitly – Founded 2011

Remitly is an international payments company that leverages digital channels to send money internationally. Its digital products are “fundamentally faster, less expensive, and far more convenient for customers to send money across borders.”

TransferWise – Founded 2011

TransferWise has financial services for everyone including people who travel, live, and work abroad. Sending money overseas with TransferWise is up to eight times cheaper than banks. It provides “the fairest, easiest way to manage your money internationally.”

Western Union – Founded 1851

Western Union offers one of the easiest ways for families, friends, and businesses to send money. Together with its agents, “we speak our consumers’ languages and live in our consumers’ neighborhoods. And we share our consumers’ cultures.”

Xoom – Founded 2001

Xoom is a leading digital money transfer provider that enables consumers to send money, pay international bills, and reload phones for family and friends around the world. Its mission “is to deliver the fastest, most transparent, and pro-consumer digital money services.”

Revolut – Founded 2015

Revolut is a digital banking alternative that offers a prepaid debit card, currency exchange, and peer-to-peer payments. It has developed a platform allowing users to transfer, exchange, and spend money with a multi-currency card. Revolut has a lot going for itself, but of the top five remittance destinations, it only supports Mexico. As it expands to other countries, it will become one of the best options to remit money since it charges no fees and transacts at real-time rates.

WorldRemit – Founded 2010

WorldRemit is a money transfer service. Unlike many of its competitors, it doesn’t provide a homepage calculator. Also, it locks users into one currency during the account setup. For example, I couldn’t switch to euros to assess different exchange scenarios. WorldRemit isn’t as user-friendly as I would like. For that reason, I have excluded it from my comparison.

Comparison

Although people remit from everywhere and use different base currencies, I’ll use US dollars and euros for my comparisons. I will compare multiple providers for the top five destinations using the most cost-efficient methods, which is usually by sending money online from one bank account to another. Paying with credit cards and cash pickups typically attract higher fees. In my scenarios, the customer only has $100 (or $1,000) to send so expenses must be deducted from the amounts. All calculations were made within seconds of each other to make fair evaluations.

100 US dollars sent from the United States (The best rate is in bold)

$100 USD China (CNY) India (INR) Philippines (PHP) Mexico (MXN) Nigeria (NGN)
Azimo Cannot send US dollars
MoneyGram 640 6,598 5,177 1,841 33,482
Remitly Not available 6,559 5,171 1,765 34,421
TransferWise 623 6,760 5,052 1,814 34,126
Western Union 674 6,826 5,174 1,786 33,472
Xoom 639 6,590 5,063 1,713 33,273

1,000 US dollars sent from the United States

$1,000 USD China (CNY) India (INR) Philippines (PHP) Mexico (MXN) Nigeria (NGN)
MoneyGram 6,679 67,675 51,767 18,411 350,682
Remitly Not available 68,320 51,710 18,380 352,121
TransferWise 6,715 68,215 52,169 18,349 350,772
Western Union 6,737 68,262 51,741 18,354 350,576
Xoom 6,696 67,595 51,660 17,939 348,453

100 euros sent from Spain

€100 EUR China (CNY) India (INR) Philippines (PHP) Mexico (MXN) Nigeria (NGN)
Azimo 687 7,624 6,017 2,069 39,851
MoneyGram 778 7,874 6,009 2,103 40,333
Remitly Not available 7,776 5,841 2,018 39,685
TransferWise 766 7,862 5,948 2,106 40,573
Western Union 775 7,940 6,064 2,051 39,072
Xoom Cannot send euros
Recap
Sending money to $100 $1,000 €100
China (CNY) Western Union Western Union MoneyGram
India (INR) Western Union Remitly Western Union
The Philippines (PHP) MoneyGram TransferWise Western Union
Mexico (MXN) MoneyGram MoneyGram TransferWise
Nigeria (NGN) Remitly Remitly TransferWise
Final Word

Your money is important or at least it should be. To maximize your remittance activities, you should stay engaged and compare providers at least once a year. MoneyGram, Remitly, and Western Union are fantastic options when the United States is the country of origin. In Europe, TransferWise and Western Union are excellent options with TransferWise being the best all-around online provider.

 

Chad Tennant

Chad is a digital marketer, consultant, and publisher. At Digital Fodder, he offers insights and strategies concerning online marketing, ecommerce, working online, YouTube, and more. At Partnercade, he helps companies grow their affiliate program revenues and partnerships. Connect or start a conversation with Chad on LinkedIn.

 
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