Small World FS is better than the banks if you don’t have other options. But in the long run, you’re probably better off finding something else.
|Transfer speed:||1-3 days|
|Trustpilot score:||4 stars|
|Our score:||2 stars|
What we like
- Flexible delivery methods
- Large selection of recipient countries
What we don’t
- Available for residents of the UK and Europe only
- Exchange rates are not very competitive
- Suitable for low value transfers only
Small World Financial Services will mean something different to each person that comes across its services. The company, which owns a portfolio of businesses, has established an online platform to complement its retail presence.
Small World aims to facilitate transfers in a simple and secure manner. Since its inception in 2005, it has gradually expanded its operation to employ over 500 staff across Europe and abroad.
To learn more about this service and see if it’s right for you, read on for our in-depth SmallWorld 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.
About Small World Money Transfer
What is SmallWorld Money Transfer all about? Let’s begin our SmallWorld review with some general information about the service.
SmallWorld Money Transfer was founded in 2005 by Nick Day, Ricky Knox and Michael Kent. Each of the founders originates from a corporate consulting and venture development background. While not a lot of information is available on the company’s path to its current position, it does appear that strategic acquisitions have been a key driver of its overall growth. This raises an important point about their business model; that it is in fact a collection of brands, rather than a single entity, each with its own target market and area of operations.
Here are the brands that fall within the SmallWorld Money Transfer group:
|Choice Money Transfer||Canada, Spain, United States|
|Express Funds||United Kingdom|
|Global Link||United Kingdom|
|LCC||Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom|
|Universal de Envios||Spain|
As far as we can tell, Small World’s online platform is primarily operated by LCC Trans-Sending Ltd, one of the group’s UK based entities. The founding team has seen some changes over time, with Christiano Arnhold Simoes joining the company in 2009 with the acquisition of Swiss Transfer, and also Kevin Neuschatz in 2010 with the acquisition Choice Money Transfer. In 2012 Michael and Ricky left to found Azimo. If you would like to know more about the founding story of Small World, you might like to take a look at this interview with Ricky Knox.
SmallWorld Money Transfer continues to be led by one of its co-founders, Nick Day. He is joined by Martin Boden as Chief Financial Officer, and Fatima Fernandes as Head of Compliance. Nick Page has been appointed as chairman and brings to the company a great breath of financial service experience, which includes a 7-year stint as Chief Operating Officer of Travelex. In early 2018, a majority stake of Small World was acquired by Equistone Partners for £80 million.
SmallWorld Money Transfer is headquartered at the following address:
Small World Financial Services Group Limited
12 Salamanca Place
London SE1 7HB
SmallWorld has established local offices in the following countries:
- Ivory Coast
- United States
Supported countries and currencies
SmallWorld Money Transfer supports the transfer of funds to approximately 178 countries. For the most part, the service facilitates its transfers using the SWIFT network, which allows it to deliver funds to all corners of the globe. The downside to this network is that there may be additional charges incurred by the recipient, of which SmallWorld has little control of.
SmallWorld Money Transfer has a minimum transfer value of £1. There is no maximum transfer value, which is great news for anyone who needs to make large transfers. Its online platform is limited to £2,000, however, this value may vary depending on your payment method and the receiving country. For values larger than this, SmallWorld Money Transfer will complete your transfer manually.
SmallWorld fees and exchange rates
What are SmallWorld Money Transfer fees? To properly consider this question, it will take a few minutes to explore the foreign exchange market.
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 SmallWorld Money Transfer rate include a spread?
A. Yes, there is a spread.
Q. What about SmallWorld Money Transfer fees?
A. Yes, there is a transaction fee. The size of the fee depends on the amount being transferred.
But for the moment, don’t pay too much attention to the details. Rather, for the purpose of our SmallWorld 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 SmallWorld Money Transfer? 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 SmallWorld Money Transfer?
To calculate the cost of SmallWorld, 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 2.69% means that for every £1,000 sent, on average £26.90 will be lost in spread + fees. By using this figure, we can make a general representation of SmallWorld 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.
SmallWorld review: Market comparison
So, how does SmallWorld 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||Review|
|1||Azimo||0.89%||1-3 days||200||2 stars||Read review|
|2||Paysera||0.97%||3-5 days||174||3 stars||Read review|
|3||Currencies Direct||1.79%||2-4 days||188||3 stars||Read review|
|4||OrbitRemit||0.43%||1-3 days||43||4 stars||Read review|
|5||MoneyGram||3.50%||1-3 days||194||2 stars||Read review|
|6||OFX||1.20%||3-5 days||226||4 stars||Read review|
|7||CurrencyFair||0.45%||2-4 days||157||5 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 SmallWorld review, take a look at our review methodology.
A typical transfer with SmallWorld takes 1-3 business days. The exact duration will depend on a few factors, including the currency parings involved, the transfer value, as well as the particulars of the sending and receiving bank.
Key payment features
How do payment features affect our SmallWorld review? Let’s take a look at its capabilities.
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 SmallWorld Money Transfer website and with a couple of clicks a transfer can be arranged.
A cash pickup payment allows you to transfer money to a person in another location, whereby they can pick up the payment in cash – typically from a physical branch. It is the easiest way to send money to family or friends who need quick and flexible access to funds.
SmallWorld customer service can be contacted by phone or email. Here are the contact details its English office:
+44 20 3198 0387
In our experience, we found SmallWorld Money Transfer 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 SmallWorldFS safe?
As a customer, is SmallWorldFS safe to use? Let’s take a look at some of its security measures.
SmallWorld is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and is licensed as an Electronic Money Institution under reference 504482.
Customer funds are held in trust
In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of SmallWorld 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 SmallWorld encounter financial difficulty.
Website is securely protected
The SmallWorld Money Transfer 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.
Does SmallWorld scam? A look at its Reputation
Can you trust SmallWorld Money Transfer? Let’s take a look at its reputation.
As of publication, SmallWorld Money Transfer has received over 5,000 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 our observations of the feedback posted:
- Reliable service
- Better exchange rates than offered by banks
- Mobile app is easy to use
- Some transfers take longer than expected
- Communication difficulties when dealing with customer service
- Customers have suggested that service is best for transferring small amounts (<US$ 1000)
Upon viewing the Facebook and Twitter feeds of SmallWorld, we do 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 SmallWorld directly.
The social media accounts of SmallWorld provide a sporadic selection of general interest news, foreign exchange related content, and useful guides on various topics.
Small World does not receive a lot of coverage mainstream media coverage. Its CEO, Nick Day, is quoted from time to time discussing larger trends in the money transfer industry. But aside from that, most coverage surrounds the ownership of the company and its fundraising initiatives.
SmallWorld app and user experience
How does product design affect our SmallWorld review? Let’s take a look at its user experience.
The SmallWorldFS website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and simplicity. It is available in 8 languages; English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.
A SmallWorld app has been developed for Apple and Android devices. By using the SmallWorld 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 takes around 10 minutes and is relatively straight-forward. You begin by entering your name, date of birth, email and a password. Then you must enter additional personal information such as address.
Before you can commence transferring funds with SmallWorld, 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 SmallWorld Money Transfer work?
As a part of our SmallWorld 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 smallworldfs.com, sign up and login. To begin a transfer, click Send Money Now.
Step 2 – Select a recipient
First, designate your intended recipient – the details of which are entered in a separate menu.
Step 3 – Enter payment amount
Enter the amount you would like to send, and elect whether this is inclusive or exclusive of the transaction fee. Click Continue.
Step 4 – Provide additional information
Enter some additional information about yourself, including your relationship to the recipient, the source of your funds, and the country of your birth. You also need to provide a reason for the transfer. Click Method of Payment to move to the next screen.
Step 5 – Select payment method
Select your desired payment method and click View Transaction Summary.
Step 6 – Confirm transaction
The terms of your quote are presented, including the exchange rate and fees applicable. When you are happy to proceed, click Confirm Transaction.
Step 7 – Select payment type
If you paying by card, select the issuing company.
Step 8 – Enter payment details
Enter your payment details and click Pay. If you selected bank deposit in a previous screen, now is the time to transfer your funds into the local bank account of SmallWorld.
Step 9 – Track payment
When your funds are received by SmallWorld, it will complete the final leg of the transfer. You can track its status online or with the SmallWorld app. You will also receive email updates throughout the process.
Finally, once the transfer is complete its status will be updated accordingly. The funds should arrive in your recipient’s bank account shortly.
Review disclosure: Unfortunately, we were not able to test SmallWorld with a transaction of our own. As a result, we cannot confirm the efficacy of the service.
SmallWorld review: Final thoughts
SmallWorld is a basic service for low-value remittances. It leverages its retail store network to deliver funds to many corners of the globe. If you would like to arrange a cash pick up for a friend or family member, SmallWorld provides a reasonable service.
Its online presence, however, is rather simplistic when compared to its newer and more technology-savvy peers. Want better pricing? Take a look at TransferWise or WorldRemit. Want more features? Try WorldFirst or OFX. Use Small World if it’s convenient. Otherwise, there might be better options out there for you.
If you have any questions or feedback about our SmallWorld review, let me know in the comments below.