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Understanding Different Money Transfer Methods: Which One is Right for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Australia?

24 Aug 2023


OFWs have made a substantial economic contribution to the Philippines for many years, and their remittances have provided a lifeline for many families back home. The World Bank estimates that the Philippines got $34.9 billion in remittances in 2020, equivalent to 9.3% of the nation's GDP. Due to the significant quantity of money sent home, OFWs need to understand the various money transfer options and select the best one for their needs. This blog aims to educate OFWs about the numerous options available to send money to Philippines from Australia—the benefits and drawbacks of those options and the best ones. 

Let’s take a brief overview of several methods of money transfers available for Filipinos living in Australia and help you decide which one to choose.

Traditional Money Transfer Methods  

 

Bank Transfers  

One of the most popular methods to transfer money to Philippines is through bank transfers. OFWs can transfer money from their bank accounts to the accounts of their recipients in the Philippines. It takes one to five business days to complete the procedure, which entails transferring money over an electronic network. For a fee, some institutions also provide instant transfers.  

Pros of Bank Transfers

Bank transfers are easy and secure, and OFWs can simultaneously send large sums of money. Bank transfers are also dependable because the funds are transferred straight to the beneficiary's bank account.  

Cons  of Bank Transfers

Bank transfers can be costly due to high fees and fluctuating currency rates that may benefit OFWs. Additionally, some banks limit how much money can be transferred daily or monthly, which could be problematic for OFWs who must send significant amounts.  

Cash Transfers  

Cash transfers involve sending money through a money transfer operator (MTO) such as ACE or MoneyGram. The OFW will send money to the MTO, and the recipient in the Philippines can receive the money in cash at an MTO location.  

Pros of Cash Transfers

Cash transactions are quick and easy.  

The payment can be made in cash to the receiver. 

Cons of Cash Transfers

Cash transfers have expensive fees and exchange rates.  

The recipient may be required to travel to the MTO location to collect the money.  

Wire Transfers  

Money is transferred online between two bank accounts through wire transfers. The OFW will deposit funds into the receiver's Philippine bank account, from which the recipient can withdraw cash at a bank or ATM. Several OFWs prefer wire transfers when they have to make a money transfer from Australia to Philippines for their loved ones.

Pros  of Wire Transfers

Wire transactions are dependable and safe.  

The transfer of money occurs rapidly.  

Cons of Wire Transfers

Wire transfers can have expensive fees and exchange rates.  

The receiver may have to wait a few days before receiving the funds.  

Personal Cheques  

Sending a personal cheque is another way of transferring money. The OFW will write a cheque to their family member in the Philippines, and the family member can deposit the cheque into their bank account.  

Pros of Personal Cheque

Personal cheques are handy and straightforward to use.  

They can be used for more significant sums of money.  

Cons of Personal Cheque

Personal checks may take a long time to clear.  

The check could be misplaced or stolen.  

Prepaid Debit Cards  

Another method of transferring money is through prepaid debit cards. A prepaid debit card will be loaded with funds by an OFW, and the recipient in the Philippines can use the card to take cash from an ATM.  

Pros of Debit Cards

Prepaid debit cards are handy and straightforward to use.  

They are an excellent option for small amounts of money.    

Cons of Debit Cards

Prepaid debit cards may have expensive fees and exchange rates.  

The recipient may have to go to an ATM to take the funds.  
 

Digital Money Transfer Methods  

 

Money Transfer Operators (MTOs)  

Money transfer operators (MTOs) specialise in transferring money from one country to another. These companies have a network of agents or branches in various countries, making it simple for OFWs to send money to Philippines online from Australia to their beneficiaries.  

Pros of MTOs

MTOs are convenient, fast, and dependable, with most transfers requiring only a few minutes. MTOs are also available, with numerous agents or branches in various parts of the globe.    

Cons of MTOs

MTOs can be costly, with hefty fees and unfavourable exchange rates. Some MTOs also have daily or monthly limits on how much money can be transferred, which can be inconvenient for OFWs who must send large amounts. Furthermore, MTOs may require more coverage areas, which can be difficult for OFWs in remote places.    

Digital Wallets  

With the help of computers or mobile devices, users can store, transfer, and receive money using digital wallets and online payment systems. Using a digital wallet, OFWs can transfer money to their recipients in the Philippines, which can be withdrawn as cash or spent on goods and services.    

Pros of Digital Wallets

Digital wallets offer OFWs a wide range of choices and are quick, practical, and accessible. In comparison to other methods of money transmission, digital wallets charge lower fees and offer better exchange rates.  

Cons of Digital Wallets

Digital wallets may have limited coverage areas, and some may not be recognised in the Philippines. Furthermore, digital wallets may pose security risks, and users should exercise caution when moving funds.  

Mobile Payment Services  

Mobile payment systems like PayPal and Venmo are becoming increasingly popular for international transfers. These services allow you to transfer and receive money using your smartphone or another mobile device, often with just a few taps.

To use a mobile payment tool, you must first create an account and link it to your bank account or credit card. You can then transfer money to other users of the same service by entering their email addresses or mobile phone numbers. The recipient will receive a notification that the money has been sent and can transfer it to their bank account or use it for online purchases.  One benefit of mobile payment services is that they are commonly quick and convenient. Many services provide instant transfers, which means the money is accessible to the recipient within minutes. Furthermore, fees for mobile payment services are frequently lower than those charged by conventional banks or money transfer companies.    

However, there may be better options than mobile payment services for larger transfers or sending money to receivers who do not have access to a smartphone or mobile device. Furthermore, exchange rates may be less favourable than those provided by other methods, and some services may charge extra fees for currency conversion or other services.  

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Money Transfer Method  

When choosing a money transfer method, OFWs should consider several factors, such as:  

Cost   

The cost of sending money is an important consideration to consider. OFWs should compare the fees and exchange rates of various transfer methods to find the most affordable choice.    

Speed   

The transfer pace is also essential. OFWs should choose a method for transferring money quickly, mainly if the recipient requires the funds immediately.    

Convenience   

OFWs should choose a convenient transfer technique for both the sender and the recipient. For example, if the recipient requires quick access to an ATM, there may be better options than a cash transfer.    

Security   

OFWs should use a secure and dependable transfer technique. They should ensure that their selected method includes safeguards against fraud and theft.    

The Way Forward 

To summarise, as an OFW, you have several choices to transfer money to Philippines, each with advantages and disadvantages. While conventional methods such as bank transfers, cash transfers, and wire transfers are dependable, they can also be costly and time-consuming. Digital alternatives, on the other hand, such as mobile money transfers, online platforms, and e-wallets, are becoming increasingly popular due to their convenience, speed, and affordability.  

OFWs should consider expense, speed, convenience, and security when deciding on a money transfer technique. They should also be informed of the risks associated with some methods, such as fraud and identity theft. Finally, the transfer technique chosen will be determined by the OFW's preferences, circumstances, and the recipient's needs.    

Before making a choice, it is critical to study the available options thoroughly. OFWs should also look into transfer fees, exchange rates, and other applicable fees to ensure they get the best deal available. By selecting the appropriate money transfer method, OFWs can ensure that their hard-earned money reaches their loved ones back home securely and effectively. Considering low transfer costs, competitive exchange rates, security, speed, and convenience, making an online money transfer to Philippines from Australia remains the best choice.

FAQs

What are the most popular money transfer methods available for OFWs in Australia?

OFWs in Australia have multiple options when it comes to sending money home, including bank transfers, online money transfer services (like ACE Money Transfer, PayPal, TransferWise, or Remitly), and traditional remittance centres (like Western Union or MoneyGram). The best method often depends on the individual's specific needs and priorities. ACE Money Transfer is the most popular one among OFWs as it offers the lowest transfer fees with competitive exchange rates.

How do the fees and exchange rates differ among these money transfer methods?

Bank transfers might have higher fees and less favourable exchange rates compared to online transfer services. However, some online platforms offer fee-free transactions for a certain amount. It's important to compare the total costs, including fees and exchange rate margins, before choosing a method.

How long does it typically take for the recipient in the Philippines to receive the funds?

The duration varies by method. Bank transfers can take 2-5 business days, while online transfer services might offer instant or same-day transfers. Traditional remittance centres can also provide immediate cash pickups.

Are there any security concerns associated with transferring money from Australia to the Philippines?

While most money transfer methods have robust security measures in place, it's always crucial to choose reputable platforms or banks. Ensure the service uses encryption, and be cautious of sharing personal information, especially in public places or over unsecured internet connections.

Can I set up regular or automated transfers for sending money home without manually initiating it each time?

Yes, many online transfer services and banks allow you to set up regular, automated transfers, which can be beneficial for OFWs who send a consistent amount home monthly. This not only saves time but can sometimes also offer better rates for recurring transactions.


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