WorldFirst provides a reliable online platform for international payments. Competitive rates, advanced tools and no maximum limit makes this a service worth considering.
|Transfer speed:||2-4 days|
|Trustpilot score:||4 stars|
|Our score:||4 stars|
What we like
- Many currencies available
- Advanced foreign exchange tools
- Regular market updates and industry analysis
- No maximum transfer limit
What we don’t
- Potential of unexpected charges from the SWIFT network
- Minimum transfer value is quite high (£1,000)
- Keeping track of payments can be slightly complicated
In the past decade, WorldFirst has incurred an incredible amount of growth. From its humble beginnings in a house basement, the service has expanded to over 600 employees in 7 countries across the world, including its headquarters in the UK.
With the simple goal of making foreign exchange simple and fuss-free, WorldFirst has certainly proved popular with its customers. Since its launch, the company has helped over 290,000 individuals and small businesses transfer over £60 billion, which is no small feat.
To learn more about this service and see if it’s right for you, read on for our in-depth WorldFirst 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 WorldFirst Money Transfer
What is WorldFirst Money Transfer all about? Let’s begin our WorldFirst review with some general information about the service.
WorldFirst was established in 2004 by Jonathan Quin and Nick Robinson, two foreign exchange colleagues from Citibank. From the basement of a house in South London, the pair had the ambition to make moving money cheaper and easier. Less than a month after founding, WorldFirst’s first customer was acquired and a new business was born.
In the years since the company has expanded significantly to establish a total of 7 offices around the world. And, as of the end of 2016, now transfers over £8.5 billion on behalf of its customers annually. WorldFirst has also won a number of awards over this time, including The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For in 2013 and The Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2016.
Since WorldFirst’s inception, co-founder Jonathan has led the company as CEO and is currently supported by Kerry Tremble as Chief Financial Officer and Tim Rudman as Chief Operating Officer. These executives have experience in financial services from firms such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group. They are joined by Wendy Glasgow, serving as Chief Compliance Officer.
WorldFirst is headquartered at the following address:
World First UK Ltd
Millbank Tower, 21–24 Millbank
London, SW1P 4QP
WorldFirst has established local offices in the following countries:
- Hong Kong
WorldFirst supports the transfer of funds to approximately 243 countries. To accomplish this, the service has established a network of international bank accounts using its own locally domiciled subsidiaries. This allows WorldFirst to facilitate many transfers without actually having to enter the currency market. It may also utilise the SWIFT network.
WorldFirst has a minimum transfer value of £1,000, which is relatively high for a service of its type. There is no maximum transfer value, which is an exciting feature for high-net-worth individuals and businesses of all sizes. The WorldFirst platform has been developed to handle large payments of almost any amount.
Exchange rates and fees
What are WorldFirst 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 WorldFirst rate include a spread?
A. Yes, there is a spread.
Q. What about WorldFirst fees?
A. No, there is typically no transaction fee.
But for the moment, don’t pay too much attention to the details. Rather, for the purpose of our WorldFirst review, let’s consider the overall cost.
Why focus on overall cost?
If you focus on the exchange rate 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 WorldFirst 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 average cost of WorldFirst?
WorldFirst has an average cost of 1.11%. To calculate this figure, 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 1.11% means that for every £1,000 sent, on average £11.10 will be lost in spread + fees. By using this figure, we aim to make a fair representation of WorldFirst across a range of transfer values. Of course, it is not a perfect measure for all situations, 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.
WorldFirst review: Market comparison
Now that you know about the average cost of WorldFirst, how does this 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 a specific column, click its respective heading. 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||OFX||1.20%||3-5 days||226||4 stars||Read review|
|2||OrbitRemit||0.43%||1-3 days||43||4 stars||Read review|
|3||MoneyGram||3.50%||1-3 days||194||2 stars||Read review|
|4||CurrencyFair||0.45%||2-4 days||157||5 stars||Read review|
|5||Azimo||0.89%||1-3 days||200||2 stars||Read review|
|6||Currencies Direct||1.79%||2-4 days||188||3 stars||Read review|
|7||Paysera||0.97%||3-5 days||174||3 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 WorldFirst review, take a look at our review methodology.
A typical transfer with WorldFirst takes 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.
Transfers involving more popular currency pairings may be completed even quicker. For example, transactions between EUR, GBP and USD are usually completed same-day; meaning that deposited funds should arrive in your recipient’s account the following business day.
How do payment features affect our WorldFirst 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 WorldFirst 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, WorldFirst 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 currency forward contract is useful if you would like to lock in an exchange rate but aren’t quite ready to transfer. This feature allows you to confirm a specific rate for up to 12 months in the future, protecting you from unfavourable rate movements.
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.
WorldFirst phone number and customer service
WorldFirst customer service can be contacted by phone or email. Here are the contact details for a few of their offices:
+61 2 8298 4900 (Australia)
+44 20 7801 9080 (United Kingdom)
+1 737 226 5240 (United States)
In our experience, we found WorldFirst 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 WorldFirst safe?
As a customer, is WorldFirst safe to use? Let’s take a look at some of its security measures.
WorldFirst is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and is licensed as an Electronic Money Institution under reference 900508. Its international subsidiaries are also regulated by the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction of their operations, such as ASIC in Australia and FinCEN in the United States.
Customer funds are held in trust
In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of WorldFirst 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 WorldFirst encounter financial difficulty.
Website is securely protected
The WorldFirst 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. WorldFirst has also implemented two-factor authentication.
Is there a WorldFirst scam – or is WorldFirst legit? Let’s take a look at its reputation.
As of publication, WorldFirst has received over 1,000 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars; representing a positive experience in 86 percent of interactions with its customers.
Here are our observations of the feedback posted:
- Helpful customer service
- Very good exchange rates
- Appears to be many happy repeat customers
- The registration process can be tedious
- Actual rates cannot be viewed until after registration
Trustpilot customer satisfaction has improved in recent times. Previously, it appears a few people were turned away by WorldFirst for compliance reasons. A number of complaints were made about this, however, it’s difficult to know if the grievance was justified.
Upon viewing the Facebook and Twitter feeds of WorldFirst, we can see that the service replies to queries raised by its customers within a couple of days. The WorldFirst social media team is active in publishing news and market updates. This will be useful information for you if make transfers on a regular basis or run a business.
WorldFirst receives occasional coverage in the mainstream media, such as this interview on Sky News. Any reporting on the service typically relates to the release of new features and general foreign exchange market commentary.
WorldFirst is one of Europe’s fastest-growing financial technology companies.Financial Times
Winner, Coolest Companies in Finance 2016.JobAdvisor
Sunday Times Fast Track 100, 2017.Fast Track
WorldFirst login and user experience
How does product design affect our WorldFirst review? Let’s take a look at the user experience.
The WorldFirst website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and functionality. It is available in 6 languages; English, French, Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese).
A WorldFirst app has been developed for both Apple and Android devices. By using the WorldFirst 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 region name and email, before providing other essential contact information.
Before you can commence transferring funds, you first need to provide proof of identification so WorldFirst can verify your account. Typically this will 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 WorldFirst work?
As a part of our WorldFirst 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 worldfirst.com, sign up and login. To begin a transfer, click Make a Transfer. Alternatively, you can enter some basic information into the quick quote widget and click Continue.
Step 2 – Select currencies
Select the currencies involved and indicate if you intend on making more than one payment. Click Continue.
Step 3 – Select a recipient
Enter the value of either the sending or receiving currency. If you’re making more than one payment, the details of these transactions can be added a the bottom of the screen. Click Continue.
Step 4 – Select a method of payment
Select the source of your funds and your intended payment method. You also need to declare whether the funds are coming from a bank account in your name. Click Continue.
Step 5 – Select a payment date
Select the date that you wish for the transaction to be executed. Click Get Exchange Rate.
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 Accept Rate & Book Transaction.
Step 7 – Pay into local account
You are provided with instructions to proceed with your part of the payment. Now is the time to transfer your funds into the local bank account of WorldFirst.
Step 8 – Track payment
OWhen your funds are received by WorldFirst, it will complete the final leg of the transfer. You can track its status online or with the WorldFirst 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.
In our experience, WorldFirst 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.
WorldFirst review: Final thoughts
WorldFirst provides a reliable service for cross-border transfers. It offers competitive rates and a range of advanced payment features. The fact that it has a strong international presence, means that it is an obvious choice if you have complex foreign exchange requirements.
While there are some obvious trade-offs to using the SWIFT network, WorldFirst compares well against its direct competitors, OFX and TorFX. Individuals with simple needs may prefer more consumer-orientated services such as TransferWise and CurrencyFair. That said, we do not hesitate in recommending WorldFirst.
If you have any questions or feedback about our WorldFirst review, let us know in the comments below.