Category Archives: Remittance Services

New Online Money Transfer Service to the Philippines: Trans-Fast

Trans-Fast money transfer
Trans-Fast money transfer

A money transfer company called Trans-Fast, founded in 1988 and headquartered in New York City, is inaugurating their new service to the Philippines by giving away an iPad 2 every week for a limited time. Customers can win by simply making a money transfer to the Philippines using a coupon code available on the TransFast.com website. All remittances online are automatically entered into the weekly drawing.

In a press release, Therese Gamboa, Director of Business Development, said, “We are unbelievably excited to offer the Filipino community the ability to send money online to their friends and family back home. The combination of our value, service, and convenience makes our service the most economical way to send money to the Philippines.”

Trans-Fasts’s new remittance service allows customers to send money online directly to any bank account in the Philippines and to over 10,000 cash pick up locations throughout the country. Trans-Fast also provides home cash delivery within 24 hours to selected cities, as well as a cash card that can be credited in real time.

Trans-Fast says that their money transfer service stands out by providing Filipinos with the best exchange rate for online money transfers to the Philippines, and a dedicated 24×7 customer support line. Trans-Fast’s mission is to be the most secure, fast, affordable and convenient way of sending money to the Philippines, anytime of the day or night.

Trans-Fast representatives states that they would soon be providing their customers the ability to send money online to many more countries.

Send $2,999 to Guatemala for only $4.99 with Xoom

I received a news update today from Xoom.com, a money transfer service that I have used in the past and have been happy with. Xoom is now offering a special rate of only $4.99 to send up to $2,999 to Guatemala, provided that you fund the transfer from your bank account. The entire transaction can be done online.

For cash pickups, Xoom has 1,548 cash pickup locations in Guatemala, including GyT Continental, BanRural, Banco Industrial, Citi (formerly Banco Cuscatlan and Banco Uno), BAC-Credomatic and Banco de Antigua; or Elektra, Gallo Mas Gallo, Hiper Paiz, Maxi Bodega and Paiz stores.

If you want to transfer the money directly to your recipient’s bank account, Xoom offers bank deposits to the following major banks: Banrural, Banco Industrial, and Citi (formerly Banco Cuscatlan and Banco Uno).

If I needed to send money to Guatemala I’d definitely use Xoom.

Xoom.com announces fast, low-cost money transfer service to UK

Xoom corporation logo

Xoom Corporation has issued a press release detailing a new high-speed money wiring service that will allow customers to send money to bank accounts in the UK.

According to the release, funds will be available in the recipient’s account in less than an hour. Transfer fees are only $4.99 US when sending up to $2,999 and funded from US banks, which is really quite extraordinary for a bank transfer.

“With the launch of our new service to the UK, our customers now have an even faster way to wire money to the UK—any time from the convenience of their desktops,” said Julian King, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Xoom.com. “We look forward to providing this service to our loyal customer base who have come to trust our brand as the most cost-effective and convenient money transfer service in the industry.”

There are 17 UK banks participating in the service, which together account for 95% of UK banking. Among them are Santander (formerly Abbey and Alliance & Leicester), Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Clydesdale, Co-Operative Bank, Coutts, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Natwest Bank, Northern Bank, Northern Rock, Royal Bank of Scotland, Smile, Ulster Bank and Yorkshire Bank.

The sender can also schedule a time for a future transfer, and can set up recurring transfers. This will be helpful to UK expats who need to make regular transfers into their UK accounts, for example to pay bills.

If you’ve used Xoom, let us know how well it worked for you, and how satisfied you were with it. Personally I have used their service to send money to Latin America, and have been quite happy with it.

Two faster ways to send money through SBI, the State Bank of India

State Bank of India branch
State Bank of India branch

Following up on my previous outline of the SBI money transfer process, if you want to send money to India through SBI (The State Bank of India), and you want to do it as quickly and easily as possible, there are a few options that are faster than going down to your local bank and filling out a wire transfer form.

1. SBI Express Remit. SBI offers online money transfers to India through their online Global Link Service – http://www.onlinesbi.com/glsus/

This is an express remittance service that is done totally online, so you don’t even need to visit your bank. You can do the whole transfer quickly and easily on your home computer, assuming you have internet service. You can transfer money from your account with any U.S. bank. The exchange rate is competitive, and this online transfer method has the lowest service charges of any SBI transfer. The money will take three to five business days to appear in the Indian bank account.

2. SBI Instant Transfer. SBI’s Instant Transfer service is a real time rupee transfer facility offered by the State Bank of India. You must visit your nearest SBI foreign branch office to do the Instant Transfer. Remittances to India takes place instantly and the money is available in the Indian account within few minutes. This is obviously the fastest money transfer option, if you have an SBI branch office in your area and don’t mind taking the time to go there.

Wire Transfers to SBI – State Bank of India

State Bank of India sign
State Bank of India - I'm not sure if this sign is a joke?

How to Apply to Your Local Bank for a U.S Dollar Wire Transfer to India, Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka

The following information is provided by SBI and other sources:

A. Wire Transfer to SBI and its Associate Banks in India

Do you need to send a wire transfer to SBI, the State Bank of India? Or maybe remit money through one SBI’s associate banks? SBI associate banks are:

State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur
State Bank of Hyderabad
State Bank of Indore
State Bank of Mysore
State Bank of Patiala
State Bank of Saurashtra
State Bank of Travancore

If so, ask your bank to route the wire transfer through State Bank of India, New York. Click here to download a form that will serve as a handy guide when you fill the wire transfer application form of your bank.

Transmission Time

  • Onward transmission on the day of receipt of funds by SBI, New York.
  • 450 branches of SBI, which have SWIFT facility, receive funds generally on the next banking day in India. Click here to view a list of SWIFT-facility branches of SBI in India.
  • Other branches receive funds via a nearby SWIFT-facility branch.

In addition to whatever your bank charges, you will have to pay SBI’s wife transfer fee, which is a flat fee of $30, deducted from the amount received by SBI, New York.

Conversion to Indian Rupees and Exchange Rate

Conversion to Indian rupees, where required, is done by the Indian SWIFT-facility branch to which the SWIFT message is sent. While the exchange rate cannot be precisely known in advance (due to the difference in time zones), the exchange rate offered by SBI and its Associate Banks in India is generally among the best in the Indian market.

Tracking

To track your remittance online, enroll for the internet banking service of the branch of SBI or Associate Bank where you have an account in India (if the facility is offered by that branch). To enroll for this service with SBI branches, and learn more about the service, click on the following link: www.onlinesbi.com

Inquiries

SBI states that all inquiries pertaining to wire transfers must be made through your local bank. Please allow the normal transmission time to elapse before asking your bank to make an inquiry.

B. Wire Transfer to Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka

SBI advises that you apply for a wire transfer to your local bank to send money to any bank in Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka through SBI correspondents in those countries, and ask your local bank to route the wire transfer through State Bank of India, New York.

Click here to download a form that will serve as a handy guide when you fill out the wire transfer application form of your bank.

Transmission Time

  • Onward transmission to SBI’s branch/correspondent on the same day.
  • Beneficiary bank receives funds a few days thereafter.

SBI’s Charges

In addition to whatever your bank charges, you will have to pay SBI’s wife transfer fee, which is a flat fee of $30, deducted from the amount received by SBI, New York. SafeCashTransfer.com did a little research and it appears that if you have a local branch of SBI to send from, you may only have to pay the one fee. For example, SBI California has several branches, in Los Angeles, Artesia, San Jose, Fresno, Canoga Park, Bakersfield and San Diego. If you send your money through them, there is no fee for drafts over 50,000 rupees. So you would pay only the $30 fee deducted by SBI New York.

Conversion to Home Currency and Exchange Rate

Conversion to home currency is done by the SBI correspondent in the recipient country. While the exchange rate cannot be precisely known in advance (due to difference in time zones), SBI states that their correspondent will strive to offer competitive exchange rates.

Inquiries

SBI advises that all inquiries pertaining to wire transfers must be made through your local bank (from which you initiated the wire transfer). Please allow the normal transmission time to elapse before asking your bank to make an inquiry.

Hawala, the Traditional Asian Remittance System

Hawala money transfer
Hawala is a centuries-old system used in South Asia, Africa and South America

From The National, February 25, 2010:

Money Without Borders

Inside the secret world of hawala

Dressed in a powder-blue shalwar kameez, the prodigiously bearded young man looked at me coldly and addressed his companions with a sidelong glance. “Don’t tell him anything,” he said in Urdu.

We were regarding each other across a white countertop in a brightly-lit textile shop one recent evening in downtown Abu Dhabi, surrounded by bolts of cloth (subdued fabrics for men behind the counter, bright patterns for women along the side wall). I was there because I had heard that this particular store ran a robust sideline in cross-border money transfers. But when I asked the young man about hawala, his reception turned cold.

Hawala is an informal mechanism for sending money internationally. Its roots are pre-modern, and its forms are numerous; what defines it is that it runs according to the honour system rather than the legal system. But because hawala transactions are unregulated and untraceable, they have come under intense scrutiny in the age of terror financing and sleeper cells. (Hawala networks were initially believed to have laundered much of the money for the attacks of September 11, 2001; but as it happened, the attackers channelled many funds through SunTrust, an Orlando, Florida-based bank where I used to deposit my own salary.)

The unfortunate part of the stigma attached to hawala is that it offers a highly efficient, sometimes indispensable system for migrant workers to send money home. When the US government shut down a major Somali-American hawala company called Al Barakat shortly after the 2001 attacks, the results were dreadful; because Somalia lacks a formal banking system, hawala had been the only way for thousand of migrants to send money home from America. When Al Barakat went down, with it went much of Somalia’s financial lifeline from the United States.

Other efforts to curb informal money transfers have taken the more benign form of stepped-up competition from official currency exchanges, which benefits customers but makes life harder for hawaladars (as hawala brokers are known). To drive the underground brokers out of business, Pakistan’s central bank has recently instituted incentives – such as waiving all transaction fees on smaller remittances – to encourage migrants to send money through regulated channels.

Hawala money
Hawala money changing hands

Given all that, it was not surprising that the young man in the textile shop gave me the cold shoulder. But for some reason, the shop’s manager – a somewhat older man with a neatly trimmed moustache and red henna highlights in his hair, whom I’ll call Ibrahim – decided to ignore his colleague’s advice. On agreement that I would not reveal his name or the name of the shop, he explained how the business works.

Ibrahim comes from a certain remote district in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, about 250 kilometres into the mountains from Peshawar. Spread out on work sites across the Emirates, he estimated, there are about 3 or 4,000 migrants from this same tribal district. Ibrahim referred to them as his “relatives”.

For those “relatives”, Ibrahim performs an indispensable service: back at home, he explained, there are no banks or Western Union counters. Nor, for that matter, are there cars, electrical lines, or proper roads. “This place is like a hundred years back,” Ibrahim said. And a hundred years back, hawala was simply how money moved.

If one of Ibrahim’s countrymen wants to send cash home, he just calls the shop and stipulates an amount. Ibrahim then draws that sum from the cash reserves on hand from the shop’s textile business. At the end of the week, he consolidates all the transfers bound for Pakistan and wires them to his brother in Peshawar through a regular exchange house. Money in hand, his brother then drives the long, tortuous journey through the mountains to the tribal headquarters, where he dispenses the cash.

A “relative” might call Ibrahim from anywhere in the UAE – from Liwa, Madinat Zayed or the Saudi border post at Sila – to request a money transfer. And days or even weeks might go by before the worker appears at the shop to settle his debt to the hawaladar. But it is rare for someone to renege on their obligation, he says. “If they cheat, next time who will send their money?” he asks. “Who will trust them?”

Ibrahim is trusting, but he is also discriminating: If a worker from a different tribal district walks into the shop asking to send money home, Ibrahim will direct the worker to some other textile emporium or mobile phone store in the neighbourhood – one that specialises in transferring money to that migrant’s place of origin.

Contrast all that to a more typical remittance transaction in the UAE: a worker walks up to a counter at an exchange house and hands some cash through a hole in the Plexiglas. A stranger receives it, dressed in a professional-looking uniform that recalls something between a bank teller and an airline employee. The interior of the exchange is bright and modern, and security cameras watch the entire transaction.

As part of the deal, the worker feeds information through the window along with his wages: his name, country of origin, passport number and the names and bank-account numbers of his beneficiaries, all of which go into a standing computer file about him. In return, he is handed a typewritten receipt. That night, while he sleeps, his remittance will bounce electronically from the UAE to a holding account in New York and then – following a few early morning phone calls between banks to agree on an exchange rate – to its final destination.

At such a traditional exchange house, faith in the transaction is faith in a set of impersonal, bureaucratic controls against error and graft. With the hawaladar, faith in the transaction is faith that strong social ties will not be broken lightly. As I spoke with Ibrahim that evening, the shop seemed to do scarcely any business. I took it for a slow night – until I noticed that one of the his co-workers was seeing a moderate stream of customers outside in the night air, away from my outsider’s gaze. And it wasn’t textiles that were changing hands.

* John Gravois

Global Money Exchange launches NEFT system

Via the Times of Oman:

Anita Joseph
Monday, February 11, 2008 9:43:55 PM Oman Time

MUSCAT — Oman’s Global Money Exchange, under the direct management of State Bank of Travancore (SBT), has introduced the National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) system for its customers in Oman. NEFT is a system whereby funds are transferred electronically to the credit account of participating banks in India, using RBI’s NEFT service.

When a person remits money, the amount goes directly to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gateway, which then transfers the credit to the respective bank’s account within 24 hours.

The advantage that a NEFT transaction has over the existing modes of money transfer is that the collection and clearance process for cheques and drafts is eliminated, thereby saving a lot of time and hassles. The beneficiary does not incur any charges, while the remitter will pay a nominal charge of RO1.5, irrespective of the bank to which money is remitted.

There are no deductions at any stage.

This sounds like a good, hassle-free system and I’m sure it will vastly increase the quantity of remittances from the Gulf to India.