Every time I see my Mum she has me doing little jobs. Sometimes it’s reconnecting the wifi, fixing the printer, changing the face on her smartwatch, often it’s something to do with her iPads (for some reason she has two). Most of these jobs, I can’t really do because I don’t have an iPad, thankfully my Wifi works fine, and the smartwatch she bought is unbranded.
But there is one job I can help with that I actually know something about. Sending money abroad. I’ve been involved in the currency markets for 15 years now. First, as a prime broker doing £20m deals for international payment providers working on behalf of companies buying new aeroplanes. Then as a currency broker myself, helping people get better exchange rates for buying a property abroad converting upwards of £250k. But now mainly I just test and review money transfer apps, thinking to myself, how ridiculous it is that so many money transfer providers are worth so much because the banks can’t be bothered to reduce their tourist rates and stop charging fees for sending small amounts of money abroad.
But, money transfers are big business, at the time of writing, Remitly is worth $1.88 billion, Wise is worth even more at £6.84bn, which is even more than Western Union, that is currently worth $5.3bn (mkt caps as of 6th Oct 22). It’s crazy really, but then Tesla is worth more than Ford, and as we all know stock market valuations are not based on what a company is worth but what they could be worth.
Anyway, as my Mum spends quite a large amount of time living in Italy and has to pay for various things like gardeners, pool maintenance, cleaners and the annual production of her olive oil I am quite often called upon to help transfer small amounts of money to Italy.
She does have a Revolut account but finds it too complicated. Much in the same way I can’t pluck a chicken because I didn’t grow up on a farm, she can’t fathom using an app. So she always transfers the money to me, and I send it over.
Usually, I just do it through a spare Starling account, who were (as you will know from when you read my interview with the founder Anne Boden) actually cheaper than Transferwise (as they were called back then) for sending Euros to Europe.
But this time, as I’m reviewing Remitly, I thought I’d try and send some money using their money transfer app.
I was quite surprised to see that you do actually get more money with Remitly compared to Wise and Western Union. If I’d sent £1,000 mum would have received €1,140 with Remitly, versus €1,132.98 with Wise (despite them saying in their pop-up comparison that Remitly would only send €1,128.32. Western Union was slightly less at €1,320 and Starling came in at a woeful €1,127.49 (won’t be using them again I guess).
Usually, I like to play about with the features of an app and compare added value, and see which gives the best overall service. But money transfer apps only really do one thing, and that’s help you send money abroad cheaply and for today at least it turns out that if you want to send some money to Europe to help harvest your Mum’s olive oil, Remitly is the cheapest way to do it.
There is a cost of living crisis going on after all, so every cent counts.
Remitly Facts & Figures
With Remitly you can currently send money to over 150 countries from 22 countries.
You can send money to be received same day if you use the Remitly express transfer services. This costs £1.99 for transfers under £1,000. It also costs £1.99 using the economy service for sending under £1k which takes between 1-5 days. So you are better off using the express. There is also no fee for transfers over £1k
When you send money with Remitly you can pay by bank transfer or debit/credit card.
When you receive money with Remitly you can receive it directly into your bank account, pick it up as cash or have it delivered to your home.
Yes, you can contact customer service via phone, chat or email.
To a certain extent yes. If Remitly were to go bust your money is not protected by the FSCS so it is possible that you will not get any funds you have with them and not transferred. However, Remitly is a large, well-funded public company and keeping an eye on the performance of its share price is a good indication of how well the business is doing.
- Further reading: Are loss-making fintech investment providers worth the risk?
Yes, despite Western Union recently reducing their exchange rates to be more competitive, Remitly is cheaper for sending money abroad.
Yes. There are two fees to consider. the first is the exchange rate which is widened from the interbank rate. The second is the admin fee for transfers below £1k.
- Further reading: How to compare exchange rates.
Research & Analysis
What we like about Remitly
It’s a cheap and easy way to send small amounts of money abroad.
- Limited FX analysis
- Limited educational articles
- Online only