Ria Money Transfer offers a basic solution for low-value remittances. Whilst the service provided is reasonable, it is not the cheapest or most functional platform out there.
- Large selection of recipient locations
- Flexible delivery options
- Large retail store network
- Suitable for low-value transfers only
- The online platform has a clunky interface
- No advanced payment features
- Rates not as competitive as other specialised services
From humble beginnings in a New York City shopfront, Ria Money Transfer has expanded to become one of the most used money transfer services on earth. Now, they have also developed an online platform to complement its existing retail store footprint.
Primarily aimed at those living in Australia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Ria’s online platform looks to help those living and working abroad in sending smaller amount back to friends and family at home.
With the ability to deliver funds to 143 countries around the world, Ria’s online platform should be of much interest to customers in need of a basic cash delivery service. To learn more about their capability, and to see if their service is right for you, read on for my in-depth review of Ria.
Company history and founding story
Ria Financial Services began operations in 1987 when the company began offering international currency transfer services from a single storefront in New York City. Since then, the Ria has grown its retail network to offer services in 149 countries through more than 350,000 locations, in addition to its online money transfer platform.
In 2006 Ria was acquired by Euronet, a long time payments processor and ATM operator. The acquisition would go on to become the first of many for Euronet, who also purchased HiFX in 2014 and XE.com in 2016. After three decades in business, Ria is now the third-largest overseas money remittance services provider in the world, behind MoneyGram and Western Union.
Ria is currently led by Juan Bianchi as CEO. He is supported by Shawn Fielder, who acts as Chief Financial Officer, and by John Ashton, who is Chief Information Officer. Erick Palomo oversees the day to day activities as Director of Operations, while the company’s performance is closely monitored by Michael J. Brown, who is CEO of Ria’s parent company, Euronet.
Ria supports the transfer of TBC currencies, leading to a total servicing of approximately 149 countries. To support this extensive reach, the company has established a network of bank accounts, using a combination of international banking partners, as well its own locally based subsidiaries.
Ria does not have a minimum transfer value. While the company is equipped to complete transfers of varying sizes, its online platform is limited to a maximum transfer amount of $5,000. For any values larger than this, you will need to approach one of Ria’s retail stores directly to arrange an in-person transfer.
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 Ria 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 Ria against traditional banks, the company fares alright. Banks typically charge a large transaction fee and a 5 – 8% margin on the total value of the transfer. Ria, on the other hand, charges a fee of between $15 (for bank transfers) and $18 (for debit or credit card). The exchange rates are generally more competitive, averaging a total cost of between 6.66% of the amount transferred for low values ($500), and 2.51% for larger values ($5,000).
When comparing Ria to other specialised currency transfer services, it falls in the middle of the road. While currency services 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. Unfortunately, these alternatives can’t always send funds to all corners of the globe and by a variety of methods, which is one of Ria’s primary strengths.
As an example, let’s compare Ria against its competitors when transferring Australian Dollars (AUD) into Euro (EUR):
wdt_ID Service $ 50 $ 500 $ 5,000 Ave cost Review 1
Ria Money Transfer
As you can see, there are certainly some benefits to using Ria. With its ability to provide payments to hundreds of countries, it does provide reasonable value but it is not likely to be the cheapest option.
For what Ria lacks in diversity of originating countries, it makes up for with the speed of its transactions; particularly for those which paid by debit or credit card. When a payment is made via one of these methods to a cash pick up location, the funds will often be available within 15 minutes.
For standard bank transfers, the speed of a transaction will depend on a couple of factors, including the currency you’re sending, the size of the transaction, and the bank used. For the majority of currency pairings, you should allow between 1 – 3 business days for the transferred funds to reach the recipient’s account.
What are the key features of Ria’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 Ria website, and with a couple of clicks, a transfer can be arranged. Unfortunately, at this stage, this is the only type of payment that Ria can facilitate. As a result, anything resembling the more advanced features offered by other currency transfer services, such as scheduled payments or conditional orders, are not possible.
Cash pickup. Ria’s strengths lay in its ability to transfer funds in a variety of customer-friendly ways. In this spirit, the company has established relationships with cash pick up locations in over 142 countries, providing a much-needed source of flexibility into areas of the world with limited banking infrastructure.
In addition to the Ria’s headquarters in the United States, the company has regional offices in Australia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. These offices are supported by a global retail store network, consisting of company-owned stores and independent agents. The location of these stores can be found on Ria’s website. For transactions occurring on Ria’s online platform, the company’s customer service team can be contacted by phone or email.
In my experience, I found the Ria 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 Ria safe? Let’s take a look at the various initiatives adopted by the company to ensure the security of its customers.
Government regulation. As Ria is headquartered in the United States, the company regulated by FinCEN. Ria’s subsidiaries are also regulated by the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction of their operations, such as FCA in the United Kingdom and ASIC in Australia.
Customer funds held on trust. In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of Ria’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 Ria encounter financial difficulties.
Website security. The Ria 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 Ria? Let’s take a look at look at the company’s reputation.
Trustpilot. As of publication, Ria has received 1,619 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars; representing a positive experience in 77 percent of interactions with its customers. Here are some of my observations on the feedback posted:
- Quick delivery, often in minutes
- Happy long time customers
- Good exchange rates
- Failed transfers with no explanation
- Issues have been reported by customers who have not met their recipient in person
- Funds held back for compliance reasons after payment has already been made by the customer
Social media. Upon viewing the Facebook and Twitter feeds of Ria, we can see a range of varied interactions between the company’s customer service staff and its customers. As Ria is very much a consumer-level operation, they respond to many queries per day. Their responses appear to be prompt and helpful. Additionally, the company has quite an active presence in posting general cultural news, aimed to engage their followers.
Mainstream media. As for the mainstream media, their reporting on Ria has generally been sparse but positive. As much of Ria’s business is conducted at their retail stores, much of the reporting by media outlets surround the company’s plans on expansion into new markets, new partnerships, and acquisitions.
New Walmart money transfer service operated by Ria. Forbes
Global remittance market dominated by Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria. Forbes
Ria Money Transfer targeting Indian expat community in the Gulf. Arabian Business
Design. The Ria website has a basic design. And while functional, it’s not exactly the most satisfying user experience you’ll ever have. It is available to be viewed in 2 languages, English and Spanish. In addition to its online platform, Ria has also developed mobile apps for both Apple and Android devices.
Registration. The sign-up process is relatively straight-forward. You begin by entering your email and a password, before providing essential contact information such as name, address and phone number. The entire process takes around 5 minutes.
Identification. Before you are able to commence transferring funds, you first need to provide proof of identification so Ria 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 Ria Money Transfer work?
To familiarise you with the Ria 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 riamoneytransfer.com and log in. Once you have entered the Ria website, you are greeted with a relatively minimal interface. To begin a transaction and add your first recipient, click Send Money.
Step 2. Select the country of your recipient, the value of your transfer, and the currency denomination in which you want the funds to be paid out. Then select the method of payment. In my situation, I wanted to pay by direct bank payment, however, the Ria system did not have my banking institution on their pre-defined list. As a result, I had to opt for payment by debit card. Finally, select the method in which you would like the funds delivered to the recipient. You can then add the specific information of your intended recipient.
Step 3. If you selected bank deposit as the method of delivery, as I have, now is the time to enter the recipient’s bank details. If you selected cash pick up, you will instead be presented with a search box, whereby you will be given a selection of locations to deliver to once you have provided Ria with the name of your recipient’s city. An additional menu is squeezed into the process, asking for your occupation and the reason for your transfer.
Step 4. If you wish to pay by debit or credit card, this is the fastest method of transferring funds to Ria. Other payment methods can also be selected, including bank transfer – which is also slightly cheaper. I chose to proceed with debit card. A summary of the quoted transaction is provided for your review. Once you are sure you want to confirm and proceed with the transaction, click Submit. Once your transaction is confirmed, it is time for Ria to get to work and begin processing your payment.
Step 5. Once your funds have been received by Ria, they will finalise the transfer to your recipient. You can track your transfer online or with their mobile app. Additionally, throughout the process, you will be provided with email updates as the payment moves within 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 Ria online platform was simple to use, despite the interface being a little clunky, 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
As a basic solution for low-value remittances, Ria Money Transfer gets the job done. The company leverages its significant retail store network, developed over the past 30 years, to deliver funds to all corners of the globe. If you would like to arrange a cash pick up for a friend or family member, you would be hard-pressed to find a better way than with Ria.
Its online presence, however, leaves a lot to be desired. When compared with its newer and more technology-savvy peers, Ria begins to look less attractive. Want better pricing? Take a look at TransferWise or WorldRemit. Want more features? Try OFX or WorldFirst. Use Ria if you have to. Otherwise, there might be something better out there for you.
If you have any questions, queries or feedback, let me know in the comments below.