Banks used to control every aspect of our financial lives. Like every other industry, though, the internet is disrupting things in a hurry.
The second technological progress made it possible, hungry fintech entrepreneurs opened their own money transfer firms. In 2011, Transferwise was founded on the idea that everyone could transfer cash in the novel way its founders did. Eight years later, only Western Union moves more money per year.
It’s true – banks still move far more capital annually than their non-bank counterparts. However, their dominance in this market segment will soon draw to a close. Younger, tech-savvier generations are accounting for an increasing percentage of consumers.
They are acutely aware that banks have terrible rates. Rather than tolerate them for no reason, they’re turning to apps that offer exchange rates and fees that are far cheaper.
In 2010, two lifelong Estonian friends had a dilemma. Taavet Hinrikus worked for Skype. However, since he lived in the UK, he had to convert his Euro paycheck into Pounds Sterling. According to Taavet, he was losing 5% of his compensation every pay period.
Meanwhile, his friend Kristo Käärmann was paying for a mortgage back in Estonia. Like Taavet, he was hemorrhaging cash every time he converted Pounds to Euro. One day, they had an epiphany. Instead of using the banks, why not look up the interbank rate, and change money using each other’s accounts?
This arrangement became the basis for TransferWise, now the world’s second-largest non-bank money transfer provider. Shortly after their website went live, they launched their app. Like their web platform, it has become enormously popular, achieving more than 380,000 downloads per month.
With an easy-to-use interface, low, transparent rates, and a function that remembers every previous transfer made, it’s not hard to see why.
1998 was a rough time to transfer money. With no real challenger, banks could charge horrendous fees and exchange rates with impunity. Western Union and Moneygram were in no mood to rock the boat, either, leaving consumers with no non-bank alternative.
That year, Matthew Gilmour founded OFX. Its mission: To disrupt the money transfer status quo. Not long after they moved online, their business took off. Today, they are one of the top money transfer providers for B2B clients.
If you’ve got thousands of dollars to move, and want to lose as little as possible, the OFX app may be for you. Finally, friendly CSRs are available 24/7 to address any questions you may have quickly.
Anyone who’s ever been out with friends has had to deal with splitting up a tab. In a world where smartphone use is becoming universal, Venmo is making this task far more comfortable. Its messaging utility takes the awkwardness out of chasing down those who owe money. On the other end, a few taps are all it takes for someone to pay their share.
That’s not the only thing that makes this payment service neat. In 2015, PayPal acquired Venmo. Not long after, users could pay merchants that already accepted PayPal. Whether you owe a friend for drinks or your local cafe for an espresso, paying has never been simpler.
Square Cash (Cash App)
Mobile users can do more than buying goods and services online. Thanks to companies like Square, they can also use their phones to purchase products in real-world settings. After experiencing steady growth with its card-reading technology, Square launched Square Cash in 2015.
Later renamed Cash App, this platform makes it simple to send and receive money in America. You can also purchase bitcoin from the app – convenient for those getting their feet wet in crypto trading.
Apple is one of the most innovative companies in tech. As such, it’s not surprising they were a pioneer in mobile payments. In 2013, Apple Pay launched, allowing iPhone users to keep an e-wallet on their devices.
Today, users in over 50 countries can pay for goods and services at any POS that offers NFC payments. Worried about security? Don’t be. To use it, the user must provide a face or fingerprint scan, making Apple Pay useless to phone thieves.
Google Pay functions similarly to Apple Pay, only it works with Android devices. However, it does differ in one fundamental way – how they interact with banks. Google stores your debit card details on a secure server and issues a ‘virtual card’ to your phone for use in all transactions.
Apple does something similar, but they contact banks directly after you supply card details. This step gives you a device account number, but it also limits the speed at which Apple Pay can expand. On the other hand, Google interacts with merchants on your behalf, allowing you to use it where Apple cannot.
Do you support your family by working abroad? If so, you already know sending cash internationally can be a pain in the neck. Leave the obscene fees of Western Union and the banks behind – give WorldRemit a shot.
WorldRemit’s fees are considerably lower than the rates charged by established providers. They also complete transfers in under ten minutes to bank accounts, and offer same-day cash pickups. One unique perk: Senders can also top-up the mobile airtime of their loved ones from this app – neat!
While this company is a lesser-known commodity, Azimo is, nonetheless, another excellent option for sending cash. The difference between it and bank/Western Union transfers is vast. Amzimo boasts exchange rate margins of only 0.1-2.25% and fees that are 80%+ lower on average.
If that wasn’t enough, the Azimo app notifies you when rates move in your favor. If you have flexible time frames, this can save you hundreds, or even THOUSANDS of dollars per year.
Back in 2010, TorFX became a radioactive brand. It wasn’t the fault of its managers – back then, the people behind Crown Currency Exchange owned the company. When Crown collapsed as a result of wanton corruption, TorFX’s reputation suffered.
Shortly after, though, Currencies Direct bought the company, allowing it to leave the past behind. Today, those who need to move sizable quantities of cash can make good use of TorFX’s app. Not only can you transfer money between banks, but you can set forward contracts, limit orders, and stop/loss orders.
These products will help you get the best possible rate while shielding you against sudden movements in the market.
Ant Financial acquired WorldFirst’s assets in the past year. Shortly after, they shut American operations. Consequently, Americans can’t use them – however, for the rest of the world, they still are an excellent option.
With no fees, highly competitive exchange rates, and features like forwards/hedging options, they are loved by businesses. However, they aren’t a useful service for everyday people, as the minimum transfer starts at $2,000.
What will it take for money transfer apps to take over the world?
Money transfer providers have only started to get traction. The trust factor, even with vastly lower fees, had kept people from trusting online companies en masse in the 2000s and early 2010s. However, as online shopping has become ubiquitous, trust in online money transfer has increased. As Millennials and Gen Z comprise a greater share of consumers, this situation can only improve.
However, proactive marketing efforts targeting these audiences could speed up this transition. For instance, sites like InternationalMoneyTransfers.com can spread awareness of a broader range of options out there. They can compare international money transfer rates with IMT.ORG, allowing them to choose the service that’s right for them.