WorldRemit is a popular money transfer service for good reason. It offers fast and flexible payments and is an excellent choice for small and medium values.
- Large selection of recipient locations
- Flexible delivery options
- Competitive rates
- Lack of advanced payment options
- Maximum transfer limit of €40,000
- A long wait for phone assistance
As the world becomes increasingly globalised, economic migration is an important reality for many people. WorldRemit was incepted on a basic premise; how can international remittances be made painless for those moving abroad and sending funds back home?
After working with the United Nations Development Programme for many years, the founder of WorldRemit saw technology as a key factor in making international payments more accessible. As a result, the company has developed a sleek desktop platform and mobile app to assist its customers with transferring funds to the developing world.
Facilitating payments into over 140 countries, WorldRemit is putting in a lot of effort to spread the word about what they do. To learn more about their capability and to see if their service is right for you, read on for my in-depth review of WorldRemit.
Company history and founding story
WorldRemit was founded in 2010 by Ismail Ahmed and Catherine Wines. Ismail had previously worked with the United Nations Development Programme, advising African money transfer companies on compliance with new stringent regulations in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Following the discovery of alleged corruption within the program, he left to found WorldRemit.
Catherine met Ismail through a friend, and together they formed a complementary partnership. She bought to the table extensive experience in consulting to the corporate finance and money transfer sectors. Since the founding of the WorldRemit, the two have grown the company to over 200 employees and have raised $220 million of venture capital to date. As far as I’m aware, the annual transfer volume of the company has not yet been disclosed.
WorldRemit continues to be led by its founders, with Ismail as CEO and Catherine assisting in a non-executive capacity, which strangely includes quite a lot of public appearances. Ian Cole has been appointed Chief Financial Officer and Brian Nazzaro is Compliance Director. The board is mostly comprised of venture capital representatives and includes Jonathan Addis as an independent director.
WorldRemit supports the transfer of TBC currencies, leading to a total servicing of approximately 140 countries. For the most part, the company facilitates its bank 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 may be charges incurred by the recipient, of which WorldRemit has no control of.
WorldRemit does not have a minimum transfer value, but maximum values will vary; the amount of which depends on the destination country and the method of transfer. While bank deposits and door to door deliveries are generally limited to £35,000, cash pick up and mobile money are limited to a much further degree; only a few thousand dollars in many cases. Airtime, whereby you can top up your mobile phone credit, has lower limits again.
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 WorldRemit 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 WorldRemit against traditional banks, the company fares quite well. Banks typically charge a large transaction fee and a 5% margin on the total value of the transfer. The fees of WorldRemit, on the other hand, vary considerably. Transfer via bank deposit typically costs £3.99, while other methods, such as cash pick up and mobile money can incur a fee of anywhere between £1 – 40 depending on the destination country and overall value of the transfer. The exchange rates offered by the company are also much more competitive than traditional banks; averaging between 1.97% of the total amount transferred for small values (€400), and 0.99% for larger values (€40,000).
When comparing WorldRemit to other specialised currency transfer services, it performs reasonably well. 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. Instead, they charge a larger transaction fee upfront, saving their customers even more. Unfortunately, these alternatives can’t always send funds to all corners of the globe, and by a variety of methods, which is one of WorldRemit’s primary strengths.
As an example, let’s compare WorldRemit against its competitors when transferring Euro (EUR) into Australian Dollars (AUD):
|wdt_ID||Service||€ 400||€ 4,000||€ 40,000||Ave. cost||Review|
|1||Mid-market rate||637||6,377||63,776||0.00 %|
|2||Typical bank||580||6,033||60,562||6.45 %|
|3||WorldRemit||625||6,308||63,145||1.34 %||Read review|
|4||TransferWise||633||6,330||63,406||0.69 %||Read review|
|5||CurrencyFair||630||6,336||63,396||0.82 %||Read review|
|6||Azimo||632||6,324||63,246||0.83 %||Read review|
As you can see, there is certainly some benefit to using WorldRemit. With its ability to provide flexible payment arrangements into hundreds of countries, it does provide good value, but may not always be the cheapest option.
The speed of WorldRemit’s services varies greatly depending on the method of delivery selected. Transfers initiated via cash pick up, mobile money and Airtime top-up are completed almost instantly. While bank transfers usually take between 1 – 3 business days to be fulfilled.
What are the key features of WorldRemit’s online platform?
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 WorldRemit website or app, and with a couple of clicks, a transfer can be arranged. Unfortunately, at this stage, this is the only type of payment that WorldRemit can facilitate. As a result, anything resembling the more advanced features offered by other currency transfer services, such as scheduled payments or conditional orders, is not possible.
Cash pickup. WorldRemit’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 50 countries, providing a much-needed source of flexibility into areas of the world with limited banking infrastructure.
In addition to the WorldRemit’s headquarters in the United Kingdom, the company also has regional offices in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States. This global footprint allows WorldRemit to provide local customer service during standard business hours during the week. WorldRemit can be contacted by phone or email.
In my experience, I found the WorldRemit customer service staff to be friendly and helpful. My queries by email have been answered in a prompt and professional manner. However, when I did reach out to speak with the team on the phone, I was met with a 15-minute wait.
Security and regulation
Is WorldRemit safe? Let’s take a look at the various systems and procedures the company adopts to ensure the security of its customers.
Government regulation. As WorldRemit is headquartered in the United Kingdom, the company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is licensed as an Electronic Money Institution under reference 574642. WorldRemit’s international subsidiaries also appear to be registered with the relevant financial authorities, such as FSPR in New Zealand and AUSTRAC in Australia.
Customer funds held on trust. In accordance with the standards imposed by government regulators, the funds of WorldRemit’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 WorldRemit encounter financial difficulties.
Website security. The WorldRemit 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, WorldRemit has implemented a range of security features such as secret questions.
Can you trust WorldRemit? Let’s take a look at look at the company’s reputation.
Trustpilot. As of publication, WorldRemit has received 18,519 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:
- Reasonable exchange rates
- Multiple delivery formats
- Quick payments
- A long wait for phone assistance (over 30 minutes)
- Unexpected delays with payments
- Poor communication when issues arise
Social media. Upon viewing the Facebook and Twitter feeds of WorldRemit, we can see that its staff usually reply the same day to any query raised on any of these platforms. It appears that the company’s customer service team receive quite a few enquiries through these services, which is probably due to their high business volume. The remainder of WorldRemit’s posts revolves around keeping its customers up to date with the company’s own news, rather than providing commentary on foreign exchange markets.
Mainstream media. As for the mainstream media, their reporting on WorldRemit has been very positive. The company is very active in the fintech scene and spends a lot of energy campaigning about the benefits of mobile money in emerging markets. The senior executives of WorldRemit often spend their time presenting at industry events, such as this interview with Ismail Ahmed. It is clear that the company is chasing media exposure.
Refugee Turned Fintech Chief Aims to Upend a $444 Billion Market. Bloomberg
Lebara hooks up with WorldRemit in money transfer pact. Reuters
My boss said I would never work in remittances again; Podcast interview with Ismail Ahmed. Financial Times
Design. The WorldRemit website has been designed thoughtfully, with special attention being paid to user experience and functionality. It is available to be viewed in 5 languages, including English, Danish, French, German, and Spanish. In addition to its online platform, WorldRemit has also developed mobile apps for both Apple and Android devices.
Registration. The registration process is relatively straight-forward and consists of entering your first and last name, along with an email address and password. The entire process takes a couple of minutes.
Identification. Before you are able to commence transferring funds, you first need to provide proof of identification so WorldRemit 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 WorldRemit work?
To familiarise you with the WorldRemit 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 worldremit.com and log in. Once you have entered the WorldRemit website, you are greeted with a relatively minimal interface. To begin a transaction, select your destination country and click Get Started.
Step 2. Select the country of your recipient and the currency denomination in which you intend to send funds or have the recipient receive them. You will also need to select the method in which your funds will be delivered to your recipient. In my example, only bank deposit is available, however, depending on your own recipient country you may have other options such as cash pick up, door to door delivery, mobile money or airtime top-up.
You can then add the specific information of your intended recipient, including their bank details if that is the method you have chosen. If instead, you choose to send money to a phone number, WorldRemit will not take responsibility for lost funds due to any errors on your part – so make sure to double-check all information before confirming your request!
Step 3. If you wish to pay by debit or credit card, this is the fastest method of transferring funds to WorldRemit. Other payment methods can also be selected, including Sofort. I chose to proceed with debit card.
Now is the time in which you enter your own personal details, which many currency services request at sign up. WorldRemit, on the other hand, allows you to access their system with minimal personal information until you are ready for your first transfer.
Step 4. Once you have provided your personal information, it is time to add the information required to initiate the payment to WorldRemit. In this situation, I enter my debit card details. Once you are sure you want to confirm and proceed with the transaction, click Pay. Once your transaction is confirmed, it is time for WorldRemit to get to work and begin processing your payment.
Step 5. Once your funds have been received by WorldRemit, 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 WorldRemit online platform was simple to use and I was satisfied with the updates provided to me along the way. I even received additional updates via text message. The entire process took 2 business days, and the funds arrived into my recipient account as requested.
Conclusion and final thoughts
WorldRemit is an effective service for international payments of small and medium values. The company’s online platform is simple, easy to use, and allows delivery of funds to hundreds of destinations by a variety of means. While this will be suitable for many, the service lacks the more advanced features offered by other currency services. Therefore, those with special requirements may want to look towards a company more focused on complete payment solutions, such as OFX or WorldFirst.
That being said, for what WorldRemit sets out to do, it does very well. I found the service to be quick, and the rates offered are not far off those offered by best in class services, such as TransferWise and CurrencyFair. WorldRemit does have a few benefits which exceed these services, however, namely that its payment network extends into areas of the world with limited banking infrastructure. In summary, if you are in need of a simple money transfer service that offers good value, WorldRemit might just be what you’ve been looking for.
If you have any questions or queries, let me know in the comments below.