Nearly gone are the days when Kenyans in the Diaspora had to walk to the nearest convenience or grocery store to send money home via MoneyGram or Western Union. Now from your smartphone, tablet or computer you can send money easily using a wide variety of money transfer services introduced in the last 10 years.
This detailed article from timedoctor.com provides five tables comparing money transfer services from the USA, Canada, Western Europe and Australia.
The introduction of novel smartphone app-based services such as WAVE (available for both the IOS and android operating systems) that send money directly to your recipient’s Safaricom MPESA account (max KSh 70,000 per transaction) has made money transfer to Kenya even easier. For example, a unique feature of WAVE is that no fees are deducted upfront and the vendor makes money from negotiated currency exchange rate differences. WAVE also offers a real-time comparison of the net difference in KSh between the total amount wired by WAVE to the total amount wired if you ended up using Western Union or Moneygram. However, the MPESA transfer feature is not unique only to WAVE and more and more companies (including MoneyGram and Western Union) now have agreements with Safaricom allowing MPESA transfers through their services. Similarly, XOOM, a company owned by PayPal allows you to send money to an MPESA but for a flat fee of $2.99 for up to KSh 70,000.
Another new service worth mentioning is WorldRemit founded by a London-based Somaliland native, Ismail Ahmed. A useful feature offered by WorldRemit is the ability to top up airtime for phone numbers in Kenya. With this tool your family and friends will not be lacking in airtime credit. Although this is not just unique to WorldRemit, based on our experience, WorldRemit offers an easy platform to send airtime (recharge.com is similarly easy). Especially with a $100 million in startup funds and a $500 million valuation, WorldRemit is a company that has the potential to become a strong emerging markets competitor to the older players in the money transfer arena. However, their money transfer service is only available in select USA states at this time.
Additionally, when sending large amounts of cash, traditional bank transfer through wire services offered by your US banking institution might still be the best method. To avoid lower exchange rates offered by US banks, one can open a dollar account with a bank in Kenya and negotiate exchange rates with them whenever you wire money. Wired money typically transfers within 24 hours even when using standard wire-transfer services from large US banking institutions. (Kenya is considered a slow paying destination and you will most likely get this disclaimer from your bank but this might not be necessarily the case)
Users have to be aware that in-order to conform to Federal regulations, some money transfer companies in the USA ask for social security numbers before allowing transfer transactions. Please be sure to inquire from such companies about their security and privacy policies to ensure that such vital information is safe in their hands.
By money254.com staff – November 10, 2016
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