CurrencyFair is an innovative service that delivers a low cost and flexible transfer experience. It is an excellent option for expats and small business.
|Transfer speed:||2-4 days|
|Trustpilot score:||4 stars|
|Our score:||5 stars|
What we like
- Market leading rates
- Low transparent fee
- High maximum transfer limit
What we don’t
- Interface can be difficult to navigate
The founders of CurrencyFair were frustrated with the international money transfer industry. In response, this group of entrepreneurial expats devised a plan to build a payment infrastructure from the ground up.
Over ten years later, CurrencyFair stands as one of the few players to develop a truly innovative product. Its custom-built technology provides it with the independence to control the customer experience from beginning to end.
To learn more about this service and see if it’s right for you, read on for our in-depth CurrencyFair review.
Affiliate disclosure: If you sign up with a money transfer service after being referred from our website, we might earn a referral fee. Learn more.
What is CurrencyFair all about? Let’s begin our CurrencyFair review with some general information about the service.
CurrencyFair was established in 2009 by four founders, Brett Meyers, Sean Barrett, Jonathan Potter and David Christian. They were finance professionals living in Dublin and had experienced the clunky payment systems of major banks. Together, they created CurrencyFair to operate independently of the existing networks, and deliver more efficient service.
Since its modest beginning, CurrencyFair has expanded from Ireland to establish offices in Australia and the UK. The company employs a variety of people throughout its operations and is focused on product design and customer service. It has raised around £18 million of financing from firms such as Frontline Ventures and Enterprise Ireland, and has transferred over $14 billion on behalf of its customers.
CurrencyFair is currently led by Paul Byrne as CEO. Interesting enough, Paul first became familiar with CurrencyFair as a customer. Ruth Fletcher performs the duties of both Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Fintan Byrne manages the company’s risk as Chief Compliance Officer, while Eoin Greene is Chief Technical Officer.
CurrencyFair address (Head office)
The CurrencyFair address is as follows:
Colm House, 91 Pembroke Rd
CurrencyFair has established local offices in the following countries:
- United Kingdom
- Hong Kong
Supported countries and currencies
CurrencyFair supports the transfer of funds to approximately 157 countries. To accomplish this, the service has established a network of international bank accounts using its own locally domiciled subsidiaries. This allows CurrencyFair to facilitate many transfers without actually having to enter the currency market. It may also utilise the SWIFT network.
CurrencyFair has a minimum transfer value of £1, which is excellent news if you only need to transfer a small amount. The maximum transfer value is £10,000,000. This is a significant amount for an online platform, and should be adequate for most individuals and small businesses.
CurrencyFair rates and fees
What are CurrencyFair rates and fees? It will take a few minutes to explore the foreign exchange market, so we can properly consider this question.
How the foreign exchange market works
Let’s begin with how the foreign exchange market works. Banks and other money transfer services will buy foreign currency at a price very close to the mid-market rate. They will then sell this currency to you, the customer, for a higher rate than they bought it for, taking a margin in between – known as “the spread”.
The spread is essentially a hidden cost that is not disclosed to you during the transaction. Then, in addition to the spread, some services will charge a transaction fee on top – which is typically the fee that they quote to you. In any case, the total cost of the transfer for you, the customer, is the combination of the two; the spread + transaction fee.
Q. Does the CurrencyFair rate include a spread?
A. Yes, there is a spread.
Q. What about CurrencyFair fees?
A. Yes, there is a transaction fee of £2.50.
But for the moment, don’t pay too much attention to the details. Rather, for the purpose of our CurrencyFair review, let’s consider the overall cost.
Why focus on overall cost?
If you focus on the spread or transaction fee in isolation, it is easy to become lost in marketing gimmicks. Instead, it is more helpful to consider the overall cost when these factors are combined. For example, a typical bank will charge up to 5% of the overall transfer value in spread and transaction fee to complete a transfer on your behalf. Not great.
But what about CurrencyFair? To determine its overall cost we need to compare a transfer with a benchmark, the mid-market rate, which in theory has no cost. Practically speaking, it is unlikely that you will ever receive the equivalent of the mid-market rate, however, your goal should be to get as close as possible.
If you can achieve a total cost of less than 1% of the overall transaction value then you are on the right track. However, it really depends on what your needs are and if you are willing to pay a little bit extra for additional features, advice, or research. To find out the mid-market rate of any currency pairing, use this calculator at xe.com.
What is the cost of CurrencyFair?
To calculate the cost of CurrencyFair, we received three quotes to exchange British Pounds (GBP) into Australian Dollars (AUD) – for low, medium, and high values. The overall cost of each transaction was then compared against the mid-market rate and represented as a percentage of the transfer value.
Here is the calculation:
|Transfer value||Overall cost|
An average cost of 0.45% means that for every £1,000 sent, on average £4.50 will be lost in spread + fees. By using this figure, we can make a general representation of CurrencyFair across a range of transfer values. Of course, it is not a perfect representation by any means, but it is helpful for comparative purposes.
Important note on SWIFT: You should be aware that any transfer conducted via the SWIFT network may incur additional hidden charges by correspondent banks; the exact cost depending on the amount of the transfer and the recipient bank. In our experience, these fees can be as high as £25 per transaction.
CurrencyFair review: Market comparison
So, how does CurrencyFair compare to other services in the market? To help you determine its relative competitiveness, we have prepared a chart. Beside the name of each service, we have listed its average cost, speed of transfer, receiving countries, and our review score – sorted from highest to lowest.
To sort this chart by column, click its respective headings. If you are reading on mobile, you may need to scroll horizontally to view all fields.
|wdt_ID||Service||Ave. cost||Speed||Countries||Our score||Read review|
|1||Azimo||0.89%||1-3 days||200||2 stars||Read review|
|2||Currencies Direct||1.79%||2-4 days||188||3 stars||Read review|
|3||CurrencyFair||0.45%||2-4 days||157||5 stars|
|4||MoneyGram||3.50%||1-3 days||194||2 stars||Read review|
|5||OFX||1.20%||3-5 days||226||4 stars||Read review|
|6||Paysera||0.97%||3-5 days||174||3 stars||Read review|
|7||OrbitRemit||0.43%||1-3 days||43||4 stars||Read review|
|8||RationalFX||1.16%||1-3 days||201||3 stars||Read review|
|9||Remitly||0.77%||1-3 days||58||2 stars||Read review|
|10||Ria Money Transfer||3.06%||1-3 days||158||2 stars||Read review|
If you would like to learn more about the rationale of our CurrencyFair review, take a look at our review methodology.
How long does CurrencyFair take?
Typical CurrencyFair transfer times are 2-4 business days, from sending to receipt. The exact duration will depend on a few factors, including the currency pairings involved, the transfer value, as well as the particular systems of the sending and receiving bank.
Key payment features
How do payment features affect our CurrencyFair review? Let’s take a look at its capabilities.
A spot contract consists of a single payment from one currency to another at the current available rate. If you need to send money right away, simply login to the CurrencyFair app or website and with a couple of clicks a spot payment can be arranged.
A recurring payment is the easiest way to transfer money to the same recipient on a regular basis. A recurring payment allows any future payments to be direct debited automatically, providing a convenient solution to make better use of your time.
A market order allows you to set a target exchange rate that you would like to transact at in the near future. If and when your target rate is reached, CurrencyFair will initiate the transfer of funds immediately. This is useful if your transfer is not urgent and you willing to wait for a better rate.
A multi-currency account allows you to send and receive payments in various currency denominations. It is useful for individuals and businesses who would like the flexibility of transacting in more than one country at a time. For many, it is a suitable alternative to opening a foreign bank account.
CurrencyFair phone number and customer service
CurrencyFair customer service can be contacted by phone or email. Here are the contact details for a few of its offices:
+61 282 798 642 (Australia)
+353 1 526 8411 (Ireland)
+44 203 308 9353 (United Kingdom)
In our experience, we found CurrencyFair customer service to be friendly and helpful. We did not have to wait too long to speak with someone on the phone, and our queries by email have been answered in a prompt and professional manner.
Is CurrencyFair safe?
As a customer, is CurrencyFair safe to use? Let’s take a look at some of its security measures.
CurrencyFair is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland under the European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009. Its international subsidiaries are regulated by the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction of their operations, such as ASIC in Australia and MAS in Singapore.
Customer funds are held in trust
In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of CurrencyFair customers are held in segregated accounts and are kept apart from the company’s own operating accounts. This ensures the security of customer funds, should CurrencyFair encounter financial difficulty.
Website is securely protected
The CurrencyFair website is protected with TLS encryption, which prevents sensitive data from being intercepted during your visit. You can confirm that this is in place by recognising a green padlock next to the website’s URL on your browser. CurrencyFair has also implemented two-factor authentication.
CurrencyFair bad reviews? A look at its reputation
Are there CurrencyFair bad reviews – or is CurrencyFair legit? Let’s take a look at its reputation.
As of publication, CurrencyFair has received over 4,000 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars; representing a positive experience in 94 percent of interactions with its customers.
Here are our observations of the feedback posted:
- Very good exchange rates
- Quick response by customer service
- Online platform felt safe and secure
- Some people have registered to find out their country is not supported
- Compliance process can take a couple of days
- Online platform interface can be a little tricky to use
We should make a special note of the CurrencyFair responses to feedback posted on their Trustpilot listing. In circumstances where a negative review has been received, its customer support provides a detailed response, often clarifying the customer’s concerns and providing further instructions. This is very good to see.
Upon viewing the Twitter and Facebook feeds of CurrencyFair, we no not see a lot of interaction between the service and its customers. It’s hard to know exactly why this is, although we suspect it’s because most customers prefer to contact CurrencyFair directly.
The social media accounts of CurrencyFair provide a regular selection of general interest news, foreign exchange related content, and useful guides on various topics.
The mainstream media reporting of CurrencyFair is generally positive. Articles typically focus on the mission of the service and its contribution to the fintech industry. CurrencyFair has also won several awards over the years for its performance and growth.
Companies such as CurrencyFair seek to attract business with eye-catchingly low commissions.Financial Times
CurrencyFair is the world’s largest peer-to-peer currency exchange.BBC
For those who are willing to move onto an entirely electronic platform, transferring money abroad can be a lot cheaper still.The Economist
CurrencyFair app and user experience
How does product design affect our CurrencyFair review? Let’s take a look at its user experience.
The CurrencyFair website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and functionality. It is available in 3 languages; English, French, and Polish.
A CurrencyFair app has been developed for Apple and Android devices. By using the CurrencyFair app you can access your account at any time and use its core features, such as initiating new payments or tracking the status of in-progress transfers.
The registration process is very quick and takes around 1 minute. All you need to do is enter your name, email address, password and country of residence Alternatively, you can sign up with your Facebook account.
Before you can commence transferring funds with CurrencyFair, you will first need to verify your identity. This will typically require providing two types of documents:
- Photo identification, such as a passport or drivers licence
- Proof of address, such as a bank or utility statement
How does CurrencyFair work?
As a part of our CurrencyFair review, we will take you through an example transaction. If you would like some guidance in navigating your own account, you can follow along below.
Step 1 – Sign up and login
Visit currencyfair.com, sign up and login. To begin a transfer, click Send In.
Step 2 – Enter amount to send in
First, you need to deposit funds into your CurrencyFair account. You can choose to have these funds exchanged automatically upon receipt, or complete this manually. Click Continue.
Step 3 – Select sending bank account
Select the bank account from which you will be sending funds – the details of which are entered in a separate menu. Click Continue.
Step 4 – Transfer money in
You are provided with instructions to make your part of the payment. Now is the time to deposit your funds into the local bank account of CurrencyFair.
Step 5 – Funds reflected in CurrencyFair account
Once your funds have been received by CurrencyFair, you will be advised by email. You can also monitor its status online.
Step 6 – Exchange into desired currency
To exchange your funds into the desired currency, enter an amount and click Continue.
Step 7 – Choose type of exchange rate
You are provided with the option of exchanging at the spot rate or specifying a target rate. Click Exchange Now.
Step 8 – Exchange confirmed
Once the exchange has been made, you are now ready to send these funds to your recipient. Click Transfer Now.
Step 9 – Send money out
Select the bank account which you want to transfer the funds to – the details of which are entered in a separate menu. Click Next.
Step 10 – Confirm transfer to recipient
The terms of your transfer are presented, including the fees applicable. When you are happy to proceed, click Submit.
Finally, once the transfer is complete its status will be updated accordingly. The funds should arrive in your recipient’s bank account shortly.
In our experience, the CurrencyFair platform was simple to use and we were satisfied with the instructions provided along the way. The entire process took 2 business days, and the funds arrived into our recipient’s account as requested.
CurrencyFair review: Final thoughts
CurrencyFair has been created specifically to transfer funds at low cost. Its structure allows the service to do things cheaply, but it won’t deliver to all countries. This means the CurrencyFair won’t be perfect for everyone, but if it does suit your needs, you won’t be disappointed.
While it does have some advanced functionality, CurrencyFair doesn’t offer the same features as WorldFirst or OFX. It is predominately an online service, so if you’re not technically inclined it may take a little bit of getting used to. If you want something simpler, try TransferWise. Otherwise, we have no hesitation in recommending CurrencyFair.
If you have any questions or feedback about our CurrencyFair review, let us know in the comments below.