02 February 2017

Transferring money is an integral part of everyday life.

Whether it is to make a credit card payment, for purchasing purposes, or simply money that is being sent from a parent to a child, money transfers take place at all locations, and at all times.

For most people, their first port of call when transferring funds, would be a bank. However, while transferring money via a bank is pretty cost-efficient and straightforward within the same country, the same cannot be said for overseas money transfers. One would think that living in the golden age of globalisation, the idea of moving money around the world really shouldn’t be that difficult and yet the entire process is unfortunately, rather troublesome.

Some common complaints for overseas money transfers through a bank include unfavourable forex rates, transfers not taking place quickly enough, the process being too complicated, and bank transfer fees that often cost a pretty penny.

Let us look at these common pain points in more detail and where you can go to save precious time and money.

Unfavourable Forex and Bank Transfer Rates

Customers looking to make a money transfer are often put off by the unfavourable forex rates that are offered by the banks.

Just ask Mr Johnny Lo, an experienced media industry entrepreneur and investor who often transfers money from Hong Kong to USA. Mr Lo’s son is currently studying in the USA, inspiring him to buy an miapartment there. This means that he regularly sends funds over to cover monthly mortgage repayments on top of his son’s tuition fees and living expenses.

When choosing a fund transfer provider, Mr Lo finds out the most accurate current exchange rate by comparing providers. Timing is key as exchange rates fluctuate by the minute so when comparing providers, remember to do them one after the other.

He reveals that he eschews using a bank for overseas money transfers in favour of other currency exchange providers that offer better rates. Most customers tend to be too complacent to check forex rates, allowing banks to take advantage by offering unfavourable terms. But, those like Mr Lo who are willing to spend some time hunting down better deals, often reap the benefits of their research.

High Bank Transfer Rates

There will often be hidden fees loaded into the exchange rate provided so the next step would be to choose the provider that offers you the best deal after all the charges have been added in. An example of a costly hidden cost is a high bank transfer fee.

Which is why customers such as Mr Fook-Kong Lye, a Singaporean professional who is based in Hong Kong, are on the look-out for external services that offer either low or no transfer charges, particularly when the transfer figure is a large sum.

Mr Lye regularly uses a money transfer service known as ONEPIP instead of heading to a bank as he has found that it offers more value for money.

Need for Convenience and Speed

He adds that such services can have a leg up over banks and high street money remitters, particularly when they have online portals.

“Most high street money remitters do not have the convenience of an online portal which I can access 24/7,” he gripes. “However, through ONEPIP, I get to enjoy more competitive forex rates, low or even free transfer charges, and the 24/7 convenience of its online portal.”

While convenience is key, a common complaint with bank customers is that funds are not sent out quickly and efficiently.

And yet, for businesses such as IPP Financial Advisers that works with affluent and high-net worth clients in Hong Kong, being able to move money around with speed is of utmost importance.

IPP’s CEO Mr Alan Chung observes that even with a premium bank account, a deposit of funds within the one working day is not a guarantee.

But as a ONEPIP user, he manages to send funds to his clients’ beneficiaries within one or even the same working day if the funds reach ONEPIP before the bank’s cut off times.

“Most high street money remitters do not have the convenience of an online portal which I can access 24/7. However, through ONEPIP, I get to enjoy more competitive forex rates, low or even free transfer charges, and the 24/7 convenience of its online portal.”

Mr Fook-Kong Lye
Singaporean Professional
based in Hong Kong

He recalls: “For an Australian property investment project we exchanged HKD and transferred AUD to the project's bank account in Brisbane. Not only did we save a significant amount in rates and charges (especially for large investment amounts), but the funds were deposited the next day.”

Viable Alternatives to Banks

With so many pain points that come with making an overseas money transfer via a bank, there is little doubt that customers are looking for better alternatives. So, if you’re looking to make an overseas money transfer, you too should take a leaf out of his book and stop going to the bank — your wallet will thank you for it.