There is little surprise that OrbitRemit has a cult-like following among its customer base. Excellent rates, low fees and prompt delivery makes the company one of the best money transfer services in its class.
- Excellent rates
- Some flexibility in delivery methods
- Many popular currency pairings
- Limited to residents of Australia, NZ and the UK
- Payment by bank transfer only
- Online transfers from the UK are limited to £9,000 (although higher values can be facilitated)
OrbitRemit has taken a customer-first approach from day one. Focusing their attention exclusively on the currency transfer requirements of Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom residents, they have developed a loyal following over the past decade.
The secret to their success seems to be that they do not intend to be all things to all people. A small and nimble team has built the OrbitRemit online platform to deliver millions of dollars worth of payments, spread across thousands of transactions, each and every month.
A low fee model that allows the delivery of funds into over 40 countries around the world is bound to get a lot of people excited. To learn more about their capability, and to see if their service is right for you, read on for my in-depth review of OrbitRemit.
Company history and founding story
OrbitRemit was founded in 2009 by Robbie Sampson, David Platt, Tommy Heptinstall, and Paul Robinson. The four founders identified the need for a seamless cross border online money transfer service that would be cheaper, faster and more reliable than what was offered at the time.
The company has since established its product to focus on the markets in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. OrbitRemit seems to keep their cards close to their chest and does not disclose a lot of metrics on their performance. That being said, we can see that the company raised NZ$1 million of seed funding at its initial founding and their website currently receives half a million visits per month.
Robbie Sampson continues to run OrbitRemit as CEO, and is assisted by Geoffrey Hill as General Manager. Richard Freestone heads up compliance related matters as Chief of Finance, Risk and Strategy, while Tommy Heptinstall appears to focus on the company’s UK operations. Paul Kinzett, who has been with the company since 2010, oversees the company’s online platform as Chief Technology Officer.
OrbitRemit supports the transfer of 21 currencies, leading to a total servicing of approximately 40 countries. At this point of time, the company only accepts funds from customers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom; focusing on effectively sending outgoing payments from these locations. In addition to bank transfer, payments to the Philippines and Vietnam can also be made via cash pick up or door to door delivery.
OrbitRemit has a minimum transfer value of $5 or equivalent in your local currency. While the company is equipped to complete transfers of almost any size, its online platform is limited to a maximum transfer amount of £9,000 in the United Kingdom, and $60,000 in Australia and New Zealand. For any values larger than this, the customer service staff of OrbitRemit are more than happy to assist you with getting you what you need.
Exchange rates and fees
Before committing to using a currency transfer service, it’s important to understand its business model. Put simply, a company like OrbitRemit typically generates revenue in two ways. Firstly, it may charge a transaction fee for executing each transfer. Secondly, it may also take a margin on the exchange rate provided to its customers, also known as the “spread”; which is the difference between the exchange rate of the wholesale market (i.e. the interbank rate), and the exchange rate offered to the customer.
When comparing the pricing of OrbitRemit against traditional banks, the company fares pretty well. Banks typically charge a large transaction fee and a 5% margin on the total value of the transfer. OrbitRemit, on the other hand, charges a small flat fee of only $4. The exchange rates are much more competitive; amounting to approximately 0.43% of the total amount transferred for both small (£500) and large values (£50,000).
When comparing OrbitRemit to other specialised currency transfer services, it stacks up pretty well. While companies such as TransferWise and CurrencyFair don’t take a margin on the value of the transfer, and rather they provide their customers with the mid-market rate, they do charge a larger fee to compensate; amounting to approximately 0.50% of the transfer value. Even though OrbitRemit does not advertise the fact that it uses the mid-market rate, it is pretty much on par with those that do.
As an example, let’s compare OrbitRemit against its competitors when transferring Euro (EUR) into Australian Dollars (AUD):
wdt_ID Service £ 500 £ 5,000 £ 50,000 Ave. cost Review 1
As you can see, OrbitRemit stands out as an exceptional performer in terms of the exchange rates offered. The company also explicitly states that no additional hidden charges by correspondent banks will be incurred, which is excellent news indeed.
The transfer speed of an average transfer with OrbitRemit depends on a couple of things, including the currency you’re sending, the size of the transaction, and the banks involved. For the majority of currency pairings, you should allow between 1 – 3 days for the transferred funds to reach the recipient’s account.
Alternative delivery methods such as cash pick up or door to door delivery may be subject to slightly varied timeframes, depending on the destination. A list of these considerations can be found on OrbitRemit’s website.
What are the key features of OrbitRemit’s online platform? Let’s take a look at the various payment services offered by the company.
Spot contract. A spot contract consists of a single payment from one currency to another at the currently available exchange rate. If you need to send money right away, simply login to the OrbitRemit website or app, and with a couple of clicks, a transfer can be arranged.
Recurring payment. If you need to transfer funds on a regular basis, a single payment can be scheduled as a regular recurring transaction. This allows any future payments to be direct debited automatically, providing a convenient solution to make better use of your time.
In addition to the OrbitRemit headquarters in New Zealand, the company also has regional offices in Australia and the United Kingdom. Their customer service team can be contacted by phone or email.
In my experience, I found the OrbitRemit customer service staff to be friendly and helpful. I did not have to wait too long to speak with someone on the phone, and my queries by email have been answered in a prompt and professional manner.
Security and regulation
Is OrbitRemit safe? Let’s take a look at the various initiatives adopted by the company to ensure the security of its customers.
Government regulation. As OrbitRemit is headquartered in New Zealand, the company is regulated by New Zealand Companies Office under FSPR reference FSP7721. OrbitRemit’s subsidiaries are also regulated by the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction of their international operations, such as ASIC in Australia and FCA in the United Kingdom.
Customer funds held on trust. In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of OrbitRemit’s customers are held in segregated accounts and are therefore kept completely separate from the company’s own operating accounts. This ensures the security of customer funds, should OrbitRemit encounter financial difficulties.
Website security. The OrbitRemit 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.
Can you trust OrbitRemit? Let’s take a look at look at some of the key factors which affect the company’s reputation.
Trustpilot. As of publication, OrbitRemit has received 16,746 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars; representing a positive experience in 91 percent of interactions with its customers. Here are some of my observations on the feedback posted:
- Long term, issue free experience
- Simple and easy to use
- Excellent exchange rates
- Delivery of funds took longer than expected
- Slow compliance process
- Delay in response to support queries
Social media. Upon viewing the Facebook and Twitter feeds of OrbitRemit, we can see a range of varied interactions between the company’s customer service staff and its customers. It appears that any queries raised by customers are being addressed within a couple of days of posting, with OrbitRemit moving the conversation into private messaging to rectify the issue.
I must say that overall I am very impressed with the love that OrbitRemit’s customers have for the service. For example, see the Facebook post below of the company announcing its success in the Deloitte Fast 500; the post received 298 likes and 23 positive comments!
Mainstream media. As for the mainstream media, their reporting on OrbitRemit has generally been positive. Most pieces have aimed to provide insight into the company’s mission and culture, and explain how the company is doing its bit to assist the community with international remittances.
We have taken a customer centric approach from day one, looking at what the person sending money really wants and needs. Lifehacker
While OrbitRemit was focused on the global remittance market, it’s platform was also well suited to expand on the evolving the mobile market and other e-commerce payment trends. Stuff
New Zealand firms shine in Asia Pacific Technology Fast 500. Scoop
Design. The OrbitRemit website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and simplicity. As far as I am aware, the website is only available in English. In addition to its online platform, OrbitRemit has also developed mobile apps for both Apple and Android devices.
Registration. The registration very, very quick. All you need to do is enter an email address and password. Alternatively, you can sign up with your Facebook or Google accounts. The entire process takes a minute or so.
Identification. Before you are able to commence transferring funds, you first need to provide proof of identification so OrbitRemit can verify your account. Two documents are required; one proving your identity, such as a passport or drivers licence, and one proving your address, such as a bank or utility statement.
How does OrbitRemit work?
To familiarise you with the OrbitRemit service, I’ll take you through a transaction I completed with them recently. If you need some guidance in navigating your own account, you can follow along.
Step 1. Visit orbitremit.com and log in. Once you have entered the OrbitRemit website, you are greeted with a relatively minimal interface. To begin a transaction, select the denomination of the currencies which you intend to transfer and click Make Transfer.
Step 2. Select your intended recipient and provide their bank details – the details of which are entered in a separate menu. A summary of the quoted transaction is displayed for your review. At the bottom of the form, you can assign the transaction a reference. Once you are sure that you want to finalise and proceed with the transaction, click Confirm and Continue.
Step 3. As far as I am aware, at this stage, funds can only be transferred to OrbitRemit via bank transfer.
Step 4. Once your transaction is confirmed, you are provided with instructions to proceed with your part of the payment. Before OrbitRemit can complete the transfer, you will first need to send your funds to their local account from your country of origin.
Step 5. Once your funds have been received by OrbitRemit in their local account, they will finalise the transfer to your recipient. You can track your transfer online and you will also be provided with email updates as the payment moves through the system.
All done! Finally, once the transfer has been completed, its status will be updated accordingly and the payment will be reflected in your recipient’s account shortly.
In my experience, the OrbitRemit online platform was simple to use and I was satisfied with the updates provided to me along the way. The entire process took 2 business days, and the funds arrived into my recipient account as requested.
Conclusion and final thoughts
OrbitRemit is a bit of a silent achiever. It manages to deliver funds on time, at great rates, and with a transparent fee structure. While the service is limited to residents of Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, it performs a very good job, and as a result, has a loyal following among its customer base.
For what it intends to do, OrbitRemit really sets a great example for others to follow. It competes strongly with what I consider to be market-leading services, TransferWise and CurrencyFair. While it does offer some advanced functionality, it may fall a touch short if you have complex requirements – in that case, you might look at a more full-service offering such as OFX or WorldFirst. Otherwise, if you need a job done well, don’t hesitate to give OrbitRemit a try.
If you have any questions, queries or feedback, let me know in the comments below.