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Six things to look out for before sending money overseas

If you’re frequently sending money overseas, you would have noticed that the range of remittance methods has grown considerably over the last few years. With COVID-19 restricting travel and raising the urgency of hygienic, contactless transactions, the number of remittance channels and operators providing money transfer services have only escalated further. Besides traditional cash transactions that are still quite popular, there are many more options for you to choose from when it comes to electronic funds transfer platforms.

There is no dearth of remittance platforms available today, but the question remains — how do you pick a service provider you can trust, a payments partner that will help you transfer funds safely and efficiently? Here are some things to bear in mind while you choose your preferred remittance provider:

1. Reputation and Legitimacy

First and foremost, check the authenticity of the service provider. You may find an unverified service provider who is willing to transfer your money for a lower cost, but is that a risk worth taking?

Definitely not!

The money transfer platform must be authorised to operate by relevant regulatory bodies and hold all the necessary licenses to carry out your transactions. This is especially important in the case of international transfers. There is no common standard when it comes to global payments — payment systems in each country are structured to meet local laws and practices [1]. A cross-border operator should be well equipped to comply with these. So, choose a provider with a proven track record and a reputation to uphold. What information does the service provider’s website give you? What do the customer reviews and press releases say? Go ahead and find out before you take the call.

2. Security and Compliance

Nothing is more important than the security of your funds and data. You should be able to relax knowing fully well that your money is in safe hands. Look for a remittance provider that takes all the necessary precautions to transfer your money securely.

Digital payments platforms must comply with the highest possible security standards. For example, in case of card payments, the credit card processing must be PCI-DSS compliant. Similarly, it’s important that the platform you choose to operate with mandates a KYC process. A comprehensive onboarding and verification process is an indicator of a safe and responsible remittance platform [2].

3. Cost Effectiveness

A payments platform must be transparent about the costs associated with transactions. When it comes to overseas payments, fluctuating FX rates, conversion costs and the involvement of intermediary players can significantly hike up the remittance charges.

The last thing you want is for the payments platform to deduct a huge chunk of change from your fund transfers. Imagine transferring USD 10 to a family member overseas, only to find out that the final receivable is only USD 5. Where did the USD 5 go?

A reliable service provider will offer you the best FX rates and also give you a true picture of the fees you are about to incur. When you are choosing your remittance operator, enquire upfront about the possibility of hidden costs and expenses — how forthcoming they are about this information will help you make your decision.

4. Efficiency

When you’re having a busy day, a visit to the bank is a chore you can absolutely do without! Ease and efficiency should be high on your list of priorities while choosing a remittance provider. You need a platform that allows you to initiate transactions remotely and with minimum hassle.

Similarly, a delay in the transfer is another issue you’ll want to avoid, especially when your transaction is time-sensitive. You don’t want to miss the deadline to sign up for that course, just because your money didn’t make it on time, do you? The involvement of intermediaries often disrupts the timelines of cross-border payments. Digital remittance platforms that are able to overcome these obstacles and offer instant transfers are revolutionizing overseas payments and are definitely an option worth considering.

5. Range of offerings

Digital payment systems are rapidly evolving. They update regularly in ways that you couldn’t even have imagined. Sophisticated money networks today enable instant transfers, real-time tracking of funds, automated transfers and card-based payment solutions among a host of other features. Based on your needs, find out what suits you, what you will benefit the most from and zero in on a service provider of your choice.

6. Service and Support

Given that your transfer is likely to occur across not just currencies but also time zones, look for a platform that can extend 24×7 customer support to you. Even though the service itself may be digitized or automated, as a customer you must be able to speak to a staff member, if you want to. The support staff, in turn, must have a thorough understanding of their own offerings, be updated about cross-border regulations, and help you with any assistance you may need in conducting your transaction seamlessly.  So, check how responsive the customer service team is via email and phone before you sign up with the platform. If they are unavailable over the weekend or post regular work hours, that’s a definite red flag.

While fast, easy and efficient remittance methods are a necessity, the safety, security and integrity of the channels enabling these transactions are also equally critical. So, make sure you do your research well and use your discretion to select a remittance provider that not only eases your transactions but also values and protects your trust.