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Ten easy and affordable options for sending money abroad

The global uncertainty created by coronavirus has implications for almost every area of life. For millions of people who live abroad or travel regularly that includes questions about the impact on exchange rates and money transfers.

Ten easy and affordable options for sending money abroad

But with a thriving fintech scene, the days where lack of choice made high charges inevitable are long gone. Nor do you need to leave home to get started, thanks to a wide range of innovative online solutions and apps.

Here are ten of the best options for moving your money across borders in a prompt and cost-efficient manner.

Monito

If too many numbers leave your head in a spin, why not try a comparison engine like Monito? The company claims to be “building the Booking.com for money transfers”.

This Swiss-based start-up aims to make it quick and easy for you to shop around before sending your money abroad.

CurrencyFair

With Dublin-based CurrencyFair you can hold funds in a free multi-currency wallet, ready to exchange at any time. It uses peer-to-peer exchange, so you can choose your preferred rate – and wait for it to be matched with customers swapping the opposite currency.

On average you pay 0.4 percent above the mid-market rate – that’s the interbank lending rate that Google shows you. Estimated processing times vary with different currencies. If you sign up via this link, you can get five free transfers.

Xe.com

This site is well-known for its free information services, showing live mid-market rates online and in its app (which has over 70 million downloads). It also offers the XE Money Transfer service, allowing you to trade in 60 currencies and send money to more than 170 countries.

You can transfer unlimited amounts. The exchange rate is linked to live foreign exchange markets but is not the mid-market rate itself.

Clear Currency

London-based Clear Currency places no limit on how much money you can move and positions itself as a specialist in transfers worth £5,000 or more, whether one-off or regular. It supports more than 35 currencies.

Users have the option of locked-in forward contracts to avoid volatility in rates. The Local's readers can get €50 (or your local currency equivalent) off their first transfer by signing up via this link.

Revolut

A basic Revolut account enables you to transfer money abroad in 30 currencies at the interbank rate (but with a 0.5 percent fee for anything above £5,000* in a month). You can also set alerts in its app to receive notifications when exchange rates hit certain levels.

Readers of The Local who sign up via this link will get their Revolut card shipped free of charge. Customers can also then spend abroad in over 150 currencies at the interbank rate (also up to £5,000* per month before a 0.5 percent fee kicks in).

* Exact amount depends upon your location.

Azimo

Azimo allows you to send money to bank accounts, mobile wallets or 300,000 cash pick-up locations (some might be limited by coronavirus-related restrictions). Its reach extends to more than 200 countries and territories and most transfers are complete within 24 hours.

Azimo currently offers your first two transfers for free, after which fees depend on the size, method and route of your transfer. 

OFX

Thanks to its global network of 115 banks, most people can send funds to an OFX account through a domestic transfer. OFX says 80 percent of major currency transfers are processed within 24 hours of OFX receiving the funds.

The company also promises no transfer fees and you can monitor where your money is via its app. OFX has handled £67bn in transfers for more than 430,000 customers.

TorFX

TorFX deals with more than 60 currencies and says funds should usually be received the same day. The UK-based company allows transfers of up to £25,000 online or via its app; for larger sums, you must place instructions with your dedicated account manager. 

The Regular Overseas Payments service allows you to make repeat payments of between £500 and £10,000. TorFX says it aims to provide rates “as close as possible” to the mid-market rate.

TransferWise

Set up by Estonians in London, TransferWise says it is “on a mission to bring transparency to finance”. It pledges that you always get the “real exchange rate” – yes, the mid-market rate – and pay only a small conversion fee.

TransferWise says its small margin is reinvested to grow and improve the service, which is currently available in 59 countries.

WorldRemit

WorldRemit lets you send money to 150 countries for competitive fees and says most transactions are received instantly. You can send via bank transfer, mobile money, the WorldRemit wallet or cash pickup – although the options vary according to the destination.

The AirTime service also allows you to instantly add minutes or mobile data to a loved one’s phone. The company advises that some cash pickup services are affected by coronavirus-related restrictions but other services are working as normal.

 

 

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CURRENCY

Germany and China must do more to cut trade surpluses: US

China and Germany are not manipulating the value of their currencies to gain an unfair trade advantage, but both should do more to reduce their large trade surpluses with the United States, the Treasury Department said on Friday.

Germany and China must do more to cut trade surpluses: US
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Germany in March. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP

The decision was expected after President Donald Trump this week reversed himself and said China was not a currency manipulator.

And although the administration's first report to Congress on the foreign exchange policies of US trading partners continues the stance of the Obama administration, putting six countries with troublesome policies on a watch list, it takes a much tougher tone.

Unlike the previous administration, which issued its final report in October, the latest semi-annual report urges specific policy actions the countries should pursue that would lead to a lower trade surplus.

Trump repeatedly pledged in his election campaign to name China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office — prompting fears of a trade war – but did not do so. He publicly retreated from that position after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida last weekend.

China met only one of the three criteria required to be labeled a currency manipulator – a large trade surplus with the United States – while Germany also met a second: a current account surplus amounting to more than three percent of the nation's economic output.

Beijing has not intervened recently in markets to weaken the value of its currency – the third criteria – and in fact has tried to keep the renminbi from falling further amid the country's relatively sluggish growth rate.

Germany, as part of the eurozone, cannot act unilaterally to change the value of the euro.

A weaker currency makes exports cheaper compared with those of competitors. Declaring a country a manipulator would set off a process including negotiations that could culminate in punitive trade sanctions on the offender.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said ensuring a level playing field for US businesses is an “essential component of this administration's strategy.”

“Expanding trade in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans requires that other economies avoid unfair currency practices, and we will continue to monitor this carefully,” he said in statement.
   Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Switzerland also were again included on Treasury's monitoring list.

China must open economy

Even though China has not moved to keep its currency weak in the past three years, the country “has a long track record of engaging in persistent, large-scale, one-way foreign exchange intervention, doing so for roughly a decade,” the Treasury Department said.

That “distortion in the global trading system… imposed significant and long-lasting hardship on American workers and companies.”

With a trade surplus in goods with the United States of $347 billion last year, and continued policies that restrict free trade and foreign investment, “Treasury will be scrutinizing China's trade and currency practices very closely.”

The large goods surplus “underscores the need for further opening of the Chinese economy to American goods and services, as well as faster reform to rebalance the Chinese economy toward greater household consumption.”

Beijing also will need to prove that the recent stance of not trying to weaken the currency is “a durable policy shift,” even if the renminbi begins to appreciate again.

Germany should spend more

The Treasury Department said Germany should take steps, notably spending policies, “to encourage stronger domestic demand growth,” something the country's trading partners and the International Monetary Fund have been urging for some time.

Increased demand “would place upward pressure on the euro… and help reduce its large external imbalances,” increasing domestic consumption, including of imported goods.

Those imbalances include its $65 billion goods trade surplus with the United States last year, and what the department calls “the world's largest current account surplus at close to $300 billion.”

The report also called on Japan to do more “to revive domestic demand and combat low inflation while avoiding a return to export-led growth.”

This would include more “flexible” government spending policies, and continued reforms to boost the labor market and increase productivity of the Japanese economy.