If you frequently use a traditional bank to send money overseas, then you’ll no doubt be aware that the process can be slow, expensive and cumbersome. This is further amplified when you are transacting in a currency other than your own. As such, it is well worth spending the time to find a money transfer service that can save you money, and facilitate faster transactions.
One such company that claims to be a leader in this space is OFX. If you’re thinking about using OFX for your international money transfer needs, then we would suggest reading our comprehensive guide first.
We’ll discuss who OFX is, what kind of fees they charge, how quickly their transfers are, and more. By the end of reading our OFX review from start to finish, you’ll be able to ascertain whether or not they are the right money transfer provider for you.
Let’s start by exploring who OFX is.
Who is OFX?
- 1 Who is OFX?
- 2 How Does a Money Transfer Work at OFX?
- 3 OFX: What is Global By Local Processing?
- 4 OFX Fees: How Cheap is OFX?
- 5 OFX: Minimum Transfer Amounts
- 6 OFX: How Long do Transfers Take?
- 7 How Safe is OFX? Are my Funds Secure?
- 8 OFX Mobile App
- 9 OFX Customer Support
- 10 How to get Started with OFX
- 11 How to Send Money with OFX
- 12 OFX Review: The Verdict?
- 13 OFX
- 14 Pros
- 15 Cons
Launched way back in 1998, OFX is an international money transfer provider based in Australia. Although the company now dabbles in a range of different services, their overarching aim is to save people money when transferring funds internationally.
Since OFX’s inception in 1998, the company has grown quite significantly, with offices across the UK, U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. The team at OFX claims to have processed more than £50 billion in transfers to bank accounts in 197 countries.
OFX is in direct competition with traditional high street banks and money transfer providers such as Western Union and MoneyGram. However, OFX is in most cases, not only cheaper, but faster. This makes it ideal for those looking to transfer smaller, regular amounts of money internationally.
The key problem when using traditional institutions to send money overseas is that you normally get charged both a flat transfer fee, as well as a highly unfavorable exchange rate. This makes sending smaller amounts unviable. OFX is also useful if you are looking for a fast transfer, as 80% of major currency transactions are allegedly processed within a day.
On the other hand, it is important to note that OFX only specialize in bank deposits. This means that unlike Western Union and MoneyGram, the beneficiary won’t be able to collect the funds in person.
This could make it problematic for those wanting to send funds to somebody located in the third world.
So now that you have a better idea of who OFX is and what they do, let’s take a look at how a money transfer actually works.
How Does a Money Transfer Work at OFX?
In a nutshell, OFX is an intermediary between you as the sender and the receiver. The standard process when using OFX to transfer money overseas is to initially lock-in a currency rate via the online platform.
Next, you then input the amount that you want to transfer, as well as details pertaining to the bank account of the person you want to send the funds to. Once you’ve done this, you are then required to send the amount that you plan to transfer directly to a segregated OFX client bank account.
As soon as OFX receives the money, alongside your unique customer reference, they then take care of the rest. They’ll transfer the funds directly to the bank account of the beneficiary, which is usually within 24 hours.
Although it might seem like you’re essentially adding an additional party to the transaction, you’d be surprised how much cheaper the OFX process is in comparison to an traditional international bank transfer. The key reason for this is that OFX utilizes a process known as ‘Global By Local Processing’. We’ll explain this in more detail below.
OFX: What is Global By Local Processing?
When using a specialist money transfer provider like OFX, you are accustomed to significantly better fees in comparison to a traditional bank. When you transfer money internationally with a bank, they’ll charge you a percentage rate on top of the current interbank rate, as well as a flat fee.
In order to facilitate this, banks use an intermediary known as SWIFT. The SWIFT system is not only expensive, but its also extremely slow – with cross-border transactions often taking up to 3 days before they are received by the beneficiary, sometimes more.
On the contrary, OFX uses Global by Local Processing. In layman terms, this means that the provider holds currency reserves in 115 different bank accounts located worldwide. For example, let’s say that you wanted to transfer £1,000 from the UK to a person located in Hong Kong.
When using OFX, you would initially transfer the £1,000 to the company’s UK bank account. This would not only be free of charge, but due to the Faster Payments system, the funds would arrive instantly.
Once OFX have the funds in their UK account, they would then instruct their Hong Kong bank to transfer the HK Dollar equivalent of £1,000 to the beneficiary located in Hong Kong.
This allows you as the sender to receive ultra-cheap fees, and the beneficiary will receive their funds in a much quicker time-frame.
So now that we’ve explained how OFX is able to facilitate fast and cheap transfers, let’s take a look at just how much you can save in comparison to traditional providers.
OFX Fees: How Cheap is OFX?
One of the most important aspects to consider when using a new money transfer service is fees. This essentially comes in two key forms – transfer fees, and the exchange rate of the currencies you are looking to transact in.
First and foremost, OFX does not charge a transfer fee to send money internationally from the UK. However, if you’re not based in the UK, then you are likely to be accustomed to a small transfer fee.
This is charged if you are sending less than $10,000, and it amounts to a flat fee of $15. If you’re sending more than the $10,000 threshold, then the $15 fee is waived.
OFX is not crystal-clear on their transfer fee, as they use terminology such as “fee waived on some transfers”. Moreover, OFX also states that the recipient bank may charge a fee, however, OFX does not receive any of this themselves.
When making the comparison, although international transfer fees charged by banks will vary on an institution-by-institution basis, it’s well worth looking at a quick example.
If you’re based in the U.S. and you used Chase Bank to transfer funds internationally, then you would likely pay a flat transfer fee of between $40 – $45.
When it comes to the exchange rates applied, Chase Bank will add 6% on top of the current interbank rate, which is super expensive. On the contrary, OFX charges an average of 0.4% above the mid-market rate, which is excellent value.
In a further example, if you used UK financial institution NatWest Bank to transfer £1,000 to an account based in the U.S., then you would pay a flat fee of £22. However, you will also need to pay an additional 4-6% on top of the mid-market exchange rate, which would, of course, cost you additional money.
All in, using a specialist international money service provider such as OFX is significantly cheaper in comparison to using a traditional bank.
OFX: Minimum Transfer Amounts
One of the main flaws of the OFX website is that there is often conflicting information depending on the specific country you are reading about. Moreover, minimum transfer amounts are sometimes quoted in a different currency to that of your home currency.
For example, OFX state that the minimum transfer amount when sending funds from the UK is AUD$250. However, on a separate part of the site OFX state that UK minimum is £100.
This means that sending money from the UK is great for small transfers, as there is no transfer fee charge by OFX, and you can send as little as £100.
On the other hand, the U.S. part of the OFX website states that the minimum transfer amount is $1,000. This is a significant disparity in comparison to the UK.
OFX: How Long do Transfers Take?
OFX also makes it somewhat unclear as to the specific time-frame for a transfer to be received by the beneficiary. OFX state that most international transfers – when using major currencies (such as GBP/USD/EUR/AUD) are processed within 1-2 days.
This is again conflicting information from the team at OFX, as other areas of the website states that 80% of major currency transactions are processed within 24 hours. As such, you’re best off aiming for 2 working days, just to be on the safe side.
If you are transfering funds to a country that uses an exotic currency, then transfer times can take upto 3-5 days.
For those unaware, when we refer to exotic currencies, these are currencies linked to an emerging economy. Examples would include the Turkish Lira and South African Rand.
An exotic currency time-frame of 3-5 days is actually about the same as a traditional bank. However, although the transfer is just as slow, you need to remember that the underlying fees are going to be significantly cheaper with OFX.
How Safe is OFX? Are my Funds Secure?
OFX is one of the most established players in the international money transfer space. They were formed back in 1998, subsequently giving the company a trading history that exceeds two decades.
We should also note that OFX is in full receipt of multiple regulatory licenses.
In the company’s home country of Australia, OFX is regulated by ASIC.
If you’re from the UK, then you’ll be pleased to know that OFX is authorised by the FCA as an Electronic Money Institution (Firm Ref No. 902028)
Over in the U.S., OFX is registered with FinCEN, and they are licensed as a money transmitter on a state-by-state basis.
While there is never any guarantee that your funds are safe with OFX, the company not only has a long established reputation in the money transfer sector, but they also hold the required regulatory licenses.
OFX Mobile App
If you like to have the option of transferring funds on the go, OFX offers a native mobile app. The app is available to download free of charge across both Android and iTunes.
You can perform the vast majority of account functions via the OFX app, such as making transfers, review previous transactions, and view exchange rates in real-time.
The best feature available within the app is the ability to check the status of outstanding transfers. This allows you to keep tabs on a transfer that was made to friends or family, and essentially notify them when the money arrives in their local bank account.
However, upon analyzing customer reviews, it appears that the app is riddled with flaws. One such complaint is that the app constantly freezes, meaning that users need to restart the app and go through the login process again.
A further issue that seems to be a common occurrence with the OFX app is that when users attempt to transfer funds, the loading wheel spins indefinitely.
So now that we’ve covered the mobile app, in the next part of our OFX review we are going to discuss customer support.
OFX Customer Support
One of the most overlooked factors when choosing a money transfer service is customer support. After all, there may come a time when you need urgent assistance regarding a previously made transfer.
The good news is that the OFX team can be contacted by telephone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can access local toll numbers in the UK, U.S., Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, and Germany. Alternatively, you can also send OFX an email, however, this is only advised if your query isn’t of an urgent nature.
The general consensus in the public domain is that customer service is top-grade at OFX, so this is definitely a plus point.
It would be nice if the platform offered a live chat facility, however it doesn’t appear that the team will be looking to install this any time soon.
How to get Started with OFX
If you think that OFX is the right online money transfer provider for your individual needs, then we’ve created a useful step-by-step guide to show you what you are likely to experience.
Step 1. Open an account
In order to use the services of OFX, you will need to open an account. You can head over to the official OFX homepage by clicking here.
At the top right-hand side of the page, click on the ‘REGISTER’ button.
Step 2. Choose your Account Type
Before entering your personal information, you first need to determine what type of account you want.
If you are an individual sending money to family and friends, then you’ll want to go for a Personal Account. Alternatively, if you are a company looking to send money overseas, select the Business Account option.
Step 3. Enter your personal information
Next, you need to select the country that you live in, and enter your email address. Take note, your email address will be your OFX username.
On the next page of the account opening process, you’ll need to select the main currency pair that you want to transact in, as well as an estimated annual amount. Select your home currency in the left box, and the currency that you plan to send to the beneficiary in the right box.
In our example, as we’re opening an account from the UK, we’ve selected GBP on the left, and NZD on the right.
Don’t worry, you can transact in any currency that you want once you’re account is open, so you won’t be restricted to just the one pair.
Scroll down and you will see a range of fields that need to be entered regarding your identity.
You will need to provide OFX with the following:
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Primary contact number
- The country you live in
- Home address
Step 4. Choose your account credentials
You’ll now need to create your login details. As your email address will be used as your username, you don’t need to worry about this.
You will need to choose a strong password and a security question.
Finally, accept the terms and conditions and click on the ‘SUBMIT’ button to complete your OFX account application.
Step 5. Log into your account
Now that you’ve registered an account with OFX, log in to your account using the credentials that you just created.
Once you are in your account portal, you will be able to see whether or not you need to verify certain information. In some cases, OFX will be able to automatically verify your identity by using third-party sources. However, if you need to provide further information, you’ll see a box like the below.
Step 6. Verify your identity
In order to ensure that OFX remains fully compliant with domestic and international anti-money laundering laws, it’s likely that you will need to upload documents to verify your identity.
The documents that OFX requests from you may vary depending on where you are based, however, in most cases this will be the following:
- Photo Identification: You will need to upload a copy of a government issued ID. This can either be a valid passport, driving license or national identity card.
- Proof of address x2: You’ll also likely need to upload two different copies that confirm your current address. Sending a bank statement is mandatory, meaning you will also need to upload either a utility bill or a letter from a government agency (such as tax bill). You can also upload your driving license as a proof of address, as long as you didn’t use it as your primarily ID.
Once the team at OFX have verified the uploaded documents, you’ll then be able to start using their services.
How to Send Money with OFX
So now that you’ve gone through the account opening process, you’re now ready to start sending funds. Here’s a very brief overview of what you need to do.
Step 1. Lock-in your exchange rate
In your account portal, you’ll need to select the currency you want to send, and the currency that the beneficiary will receive. Lock-in the exchange rate and enter the amount you want to transfer.
Step 2. Add details of the beneficiary
You’ll now need to enter the account information of the person you are sending funds too. This will include their full legal name and their respective bank account details.
If the person you are sending money to is a frequent beneficiary, then you won’t need to complete this step again (unless their account details change).
Step 3. Confirm the transfers
Review the information you entered in the previous steps, and once happy, click on ‘CONFIRM’. You’ll then receive an email outlining details of the transaction, and how you can pay for it.
Step 4. Pay OFX
As OFX is a third party intermediary between you and the receiver, you will need to send OFX the funds that you want to transfer. As soon as OFX receives the money, they then forward it on to the beneficiary’s bank account.
In most cases, you will need to pay OFX via a bank transfer. However, certain countries are accustomed to additional payment methods, such as a debit or credit card.
Step 5. Monitor transfer status
As soon as OFX has processed the transaction, you’ll receive a notification via email. You can track the status of the transfer via your account portal – both online and within the OFX app. If you want to be notified the moment the transaction has been processed, you can set-up account notifications.
OFX Review: The Verdict?
In summary, using OFX to transfer funds overseas is significantly cheaper than using a traditional bank. In some cases, you won’t pay OFX any transfer fees, and the exchange rate on offer will be substantially more favorable in comparison to the rates offered by financial institutions.
Moreover, OFX claims that 80% of major currency transfers are received on the very same day, which is ultra-fast. On top of offering a 24/7 customer support helpline, OFX is also in possession of multiple regulatory licenses.
The only slight qualms that we had with the platform is that some of the information stated on the OFX website is contradictory, and the mobile app is really glitchy. However, it is hoped that the team at OFX will be able to resolve these minor concerns in the very near future.