TorFX provides a broad selection of currencies, competitive rates, and helpful customer service, despite a past slightly tainted by controversy.
- Cleanly designed online platform
- Large selection of currencies
- Competitive rates for high values
- Helpful customer service
- Online trades limited to £25,000
- The potential of unexpected charges from the SWIFT network
- Not the best option for low values
TorFX has interesting past to say the least. Its beginnings are shrouded in controversy, after being linked by association to a failed payments company. But since joining the Currencies Direct group of companies in 2011, TorFX has consolidated its operations and taken big steps to ensure a trustful relationship with its customers.
Despite the drama, TorFX has a proven track record of completing international transfers. The company has helped over 55,000 individuals and small businesses, and currently transacts more than £3 billion annually. In conjunction with its parent company, they make up a notable share of the foreign exchange market in the United Kingdom.
TorFX offers its customers a personalised service, as well as an online platform which can process the transfer of approximately 42 currencies. To learn more about their capability, and to see if their service is right for you, read on for my in-depth review of TorFX.
Company history and founding story
TorFX was founded in 2004 by Peter and Susan Banstead, who had a previous history of running currency businesses, including the failed Crown Currency Exchange. In the aftermath of Crown’s insolvency – whereby many customers were affected – TorFX tried its best to distance itself from the event, despite sharing common ownership and management for a time, as outlined in this investigative piece. Notwithstanding these links, as far as I am aware, TorFX operated successfully until it was acquired by Currencies Direct in 2011.
Since coming under the control of Currencies Direct, TorFX has been able to consolidate its operations, leave its troubled past behind, and look towards a brighter future. The company extended its international in reach in 2013 by establishing an Australian office in Surfers Paradise. Then in 2015, TorFX (along with its parent) was sold to a pair of private equity firms, Palamon Capital and Corsair Capital, for over £200 million.
TorFX is currently led by Jon Beddell, who interestingly enough is also listed as one of its co-founders. Nigel Fox has been appointed as Managing Director, while Neil Cooper is Chief Financial Officer. They are supported by Tracy Moore, who acts as Chief Operating Officer, and has been with the company since 2005. The Australian operations is managed by Paul Billing.
TorFX supports the transfer of 42 currencies, leading to a total servicing of approximately 110 countries. For the most part, the company facilitates its transfers using the SWIFT banking network, which provides it with the ability to deliver funds to all corners of the globe. The downside to this network is there are often charges incurred by the recipient, of which TorFX has no control of.
TorFX has a minimum transfer value of £100. While the company is equipped to complete transfers of almost any size, its online platform is limited to a maximum transfer amount of £25,000. For any values larger than this, the customer service staff of TorFX 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 TorFX 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 TorFX 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. TorFX, on the other hand, does not charge a transaction fee, and the exchange rates are much more competitive than traditional banks; averaging between 2.71% of the total amount transferred for small values ($1,000), and 1.91% for larger values ($100,000).
When comparing TorFX to other specialised currency transfer services, it holds up relatively well, especially for larger amounts. 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 0.60% of the transfer value for TransferWise, and even less for CurrencyFair. What TorFX does have going for it, is a large selection of currencies and an ability to facilitate higher transfer values than most consumer-focused services.
As a case study, let’s compare TorFX against its competitors when transferring Euro (EUR) into Australian Dollars (AUD):
|wdt_ID||Service||€ 1,000||€ 10,000||€ 100,000||Ave. cost||Review|
|1||Mid-market rate||1,602||16,020||160,200||0.00 %|
|2||Typical bank||1,496||15,194||152,165||5.58 %|
|4||TransferWise||1,591||15,923||159,413||0.59 %||Read review|
|5||CurrencyFair||1,593||15,937||159,370||0.52 %||Read review|
As you can see, there are certainly many benefits to using TorFX. With its ability to provide payments into hundreds of countries, it does provide excellent value but may not always be the cheapest option. In addition, it should be noted that any transfer conducted via SWIFT will likely incur additional hidden charges by correspondent banks; the exact cost depending on the amount of the transfer and the recipient’s bank.
The transfer speed of an average transfer with TorFX depends on a couple of things, including the currency you’re sending, the bank used, and the size of the transaction. For the majority of currency pairings, you should allow between 2 – 4 days for the transferred funds to reach the recipient’s account.
What are the key features of TorFX’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 TorFX 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. The regular payments function of TorFX’s product is intended for transfers up to £10,000 in value.
Currency forward contract. If you would like to lock in an exchange rate but aren’t quite ready to transfer, you can use a forward exchange contract. This allows you to confirm a specific rate for up to 12 months in the future, protecting you from unfavourable rate movements.
Market order. Limit orders allow 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, TorFX will initiate the transfer of funds immediately.
In addition to the TorFX headquarters in the United Kingdom, the company also has a regional office in Australia. Each of the company’s offices can provide assistance to its customers during standard business hours. Their customer service team can be contacted by phone or email.
In my experience, I found the customer service staff of TorFX to be friendly and helpful. Upon signing up, each customer is allocated a personal account manager to handle their currency requirements and provide general advice. Transactions under £25,000 in value must be completed on the company’s online platform, while your account manager can facilitate any amount larger than that. I personally had no trouble contacting my representative over the phone, and my queries by email have been answered in a prompt and professional manner.
Security and regulation
Is TorFX safe? Let’s take a look at the various initiatives adopted by the company to ensure the security of its customers.
Government regulation. As TorFX is headquartered in the United Kingdom, the company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and licensed as an Electronic Money Institution under reference 900706. The subsidiaries of TorFX are also regulated by the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction of their international operations, such as ASIC in Australia.
Customer funds held on trust. In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of TorFX’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 TorFX encounter financial difficulties.
Website security. The TorFX 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. Additionally, TorFX has implemented a range of security features such as two-factor authentication.
Can you trust TorFX? Let’s take a look at look at some of the key factors which affect the company’s reputation.
Trustpilot. As of publication, TorFX has received 2,507 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars; representing a positive experience in 95 percent of interactions with its customers. Here are some of my observations on the feedback posted:
- Helpful customer service
- Was kept adequately informed along the way
- Trouble-free process, after initial teething issues
- Cannot view actual rates until after sign-up
- Unauthorised deduction of charges after failed transfer
- Hidden charges incurred in SWIFT banking network
Social media. Upon viewing the Twitter and Facebook feeds of TorFX, 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 day of posting, with TorFX moving the conversation into private messaging to rectify the issue. Due to the size of TorFX, the social media team is also quite active in publishing news and market updates, which could be very useful for those making regular payments.
Mainstream media. As for the mainstream media, TorFX does not have too much vanity coverage, as they are already an established company. Aside from their historical issues, there is not a whole lot of media coverage on their operations, other than occasional commentary on foreign exchange markets. Those who are a little tentative about TorFX’s past will be happy to hear that the company has actually been the focus of a handful of awards over the past decade.
Three Time Winner, Consumer International Money Transfer Provider. Moneyfacts
Twice Ranked Top 15, Smart50 Awards. SmartCompany
Sunday Times Fast Track 100, 2008 & 2010. Fast Track
9. User experience
Design. The TorFX website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and functionality. As far as I am aware, the website is only available in English. In addition to its online platform, TorFX has also developed mobile apps for both Apple and Android devices.
Registration. The sign-up process is relatively straight-forward, taking only a couple of minutes longer than a typical consumer-grade service. 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 10 minutes.
Identification. Before you are able to commence transferring funds, you first need to provide proof of identification so TorFX 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 TorFX work?
To familiarise you with the TorFX 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 below.
Step 1. Visit torfx.com and log in. Once you have entered the TorFX website, you are greeted with a relatively minimal interface. The dashboard provides a summary of current transactions in process, and a range of menu items to select from. To begin a transfer, click Make a Transfer. Alternatively, you can enter some basic information into the quick quote widget and click check rate, then Transfer Now.
Step 2. To formalise the exchange rate for your quote, first, select your intended recipient(s) – the details of which are entered in a separate menu – and click Select. Then select the currencies involved, the amount of the either originating currency or the recipient’s denominated currency and click Get Rate. The rate offered will depend on the size of your transfer. Larger transfers will generally be offered better rates. Once you are happy with the quote presented click Continue. Select the method in which you intend to pay your funds to TorFX. At this stage, the company can accept debit card or bank transfer.
Step 3. The specific terms of your quote are clearly outlined, including the exchange rate and fees applicable. Once you are sure that you would like to finalise and proceed, click Confirm.
Step 4. Once your transaction is confirmed, you are provided with instructions to proceed with your part of the payment. Before TorFX can complete the transfer, you will first need to send your funds to their local account from your country of origin.
Step 5. As soon as your funds have been received by TorFX in their local account, they will finalise the transfer to your recipient. You can track your transfer online or with their mobile app; throughout the process, your account dashboard will be updated with the payment’s status as it moves within the system. You will also receive updates via email.
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 TorFX online platform was simple to use and I was satisfied with the instructions provided to me along the way. The entire process took 3 working days, and the funds arrived, albeit with a short payment of $25. Upon querying this discrepancy with their customer service team, I was advised that as my transfer was conducted through the SWIFT network, there were fees charged by correspondent banks in this system.
Apparently SWIFT fees can vary and cannot be estimated in advance. While this may be the case, I think it would be reasonable to disclose the possibility on the TorFX platform, especially when deductions are expected. While this may not be a relatively huge concern for large transfer values, in all honesty, I was disappointed that additional charges could be incurred with an explanation that consisted of not much more than a shrug.
Conclusion and final thoughts
Despite their shaded past, TorFX provides a professional and efficient currency exchange solution. Their online platform is easy to use and perfect for facilitating trades up to £25,000. For larger values, the company employs a competent stable of account managers to hold your hand through the process.
TorFX is not really tailored for small transfer values, which are probably better suited to more consumer-orientated services such as TransferWise or CurrencyFair. That being said, the company provides competitive exchange rates for larger transfer amounts and is a very good consideration for individuals and businesses moving larger values in multiple currency denominations.
If you have any questions, queries or feedback, let me know in the comments below.