Steps to Sending an International Wire Transfer
Your business is rapidly growing, and with that growth, you decide to embark on a new project — revamping your entire website. The design company that you hire, however, is located in Germany, and they need funds upfront to get started. And since the project is a rush, the funds must arrive quickly.
How to send payments overseas quickly and easily? A wire transfer is probably the first thing that comes to your mind. But there are many options to consider before sending money abroad, and how you approach the task could result in a large expense — or a minimal amount of money spent by your company.
So, what is the best option? Here is a quick guide to understanding how to make that next international transfer, and whether there is a more attractive option that could save you time and money.
The Basics: Understanding Your Wire Transfer Options
Wire transfers were first introduced in the 1800s. But a lot has changed since then. Technology has rapidly advanced, opening the door to many other cost-effective solutions.
Nowadays, you can choose from a couple of options when you need to transfer funds internationally. The first one is a traditional bank. This is perhaps the oldest and most well-known method, which is why many businesses simply use their regular bank when they need to send money abroad.
Banks typically use SWIFT to process the transaction, and you can wire funds internationally in person, over the phone or online. But despite its name, SWIFT doesn’t always ensure a speedy transaction.
What Is SWIFT?
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions, also known as SWIFT, is how the majority of banks process international wire transfers.
SWIFT is a large messaging network used by banks and other financial institutions. Currently there are about 10,000 SWIFT member institutions. SWIFT payment message volumes are around 11.5 million per day, with an average payment of around $45,000.
Every financial institution on the SWIFT network is assigned an identifying code, which is eight to eleven characters long, and is called a Bank Identifier Code, or a BIC.
SWIFT doesn’t really process the actual funds, it only sends information. But this is enough, since no actual money travels across the world, only data. For example, let’s say that you consider choosing a wire transfer when paying your German design company.
You would make a wire request with your financial institution (more details on this shortly), then the bank would withdraw the funds and send a payment transfer via the SWIFT messaging system to your supplier’s financial institution. The supplier’s bank would then credit the funds to the supplier’s bank account. In short, SWIFT is more of a messaging system than a literal method for sending funds.
This means that when requesting a wire transfer, you need the BIC of the recipient’s bank. There are a couple of ways to locate this code. You can look it up here, or you can request the code from your financial institution.
SWIFT has been around for several years, and although there are other options that financial institutions can use, SWIFT remains the dominant player.
The Process at a Glance — Traditional Banks
Banks are generally the most expensive option for international transfers. How come they’re still the most widely used means? The appeal of this method is that it’s familiar; a business already knows its bank and, perhaps, the business may not fully understand the potential hidden costs and fees.
Do you know how a traditional bank transfer works? Here are the steps you need to take:
Initiate the wire request. The first step is making the request. Depending on your bank, this can usually happen either in-person, over the phone or online.
However, you need to be aware of potential limits. Most banks have some type of wire transfer limit, which may vary based on your business size, as well as banking and transaction history.
Enter the personal and account details of the recipient. Prior to making the request, ensure that you have the recipient or business name, address and account type (such as savings, checking, etc.). You will also need to have the SWIFT code handy.
Select the recipient’s currency. Most banks require you to select the currency in which to send the funds. Be aware that this can trigger a conversion fee (more on this in a minute). For example, if your business is in the US but your vendor is located in Europe, you may need to select Euros.
Check out processing fees. International wire transfers don’t have a single, flat transaction fee. Instead, there are a number of fees to consider. For example, expect your bank to charge you $40 to $50 on average, but note that some charge as much as $80.
You can check with your bank for these fees, but here is a quick snapshot of some of the major financial institutions’ fees:
- Bank of America ($45 outgoing)
- Wells Fargo ($40 outgoing)
- U.S. Bank ($50 outgoing)
- Capital One ($50 outgoing)
- Chase ($50 outgoing)
In addition, the recipient’s bank will also charge you a fee, which may be $10 or $15.
Ask about the charges of your bank, the charge of the recipient’s bank, and any fees that apply to exchanging the currency. (Hint: most institutions don’t do this for free. They are charged a fee and then mark that up and pass it onto you.)
For timing, expect a few days, but also factor in time zone and date line adjustments that may affect the arrival date. Most international wire transfers can take 5 or more business days.
A Simpler Option: No Bank at All
For centuries, banks were the only option for sending money. However, technology has advanced and today, we have more opportunities to transact with fewer costs and better speed. It’s in the best interest of your business to check these out.
Alternative options include Veem, PayPal, TransferWise and many others. These companies offer faster services at fewer costs, using secure modern technologies like blockchain.
Would you like to know about their transaction process and how it compares with a traditional bank? Let’s take a look. For example, here is a quick glance at how to conduct an international wire transfer with Veem.
Establish a profile. To set up a profile, you need to enter your name, business name and email address. The profile is then linked to your bank account, so you can easily wire money to the recipient.
Determine the recipient and how much money to send. The second step in the process is determining how much money to send and where those funds need to go. Veem has the ability to send money to recipients in 60 countries. You can check out a full list here.
Wait for the counterparty to confirm. The first time you send a transfer to a new recipient, they need to “accept” it by confirming their bank details and business information.
For example, your designer in Germany needs to go through the confirmation process, and may need to enter additional details for larger sums of money. Once the counterparty account is all set up, future transfers go directly into their bank account without additional setup requirements.
A major benefit of using an alternative method, such as Veem, for international wire transfers is that you can reduce fees. For example, Veem allows you to send to, and receive from 60 countries without any wire fees.
Understanding Exchange Rates
Remember that banks and alternative payment platforms both charge exchange fees. The amount of this can vary greatly, and fees will add up if you send international transfers frequently. Let’s take a look at exchange rates and fees.
Sending funds to another country requires conversion to the local currency. This incurs an exchange fee, which is the cost of buying one currency in exchange for another.
Banks can set their own exchange fees, and the quoted exchange rate (known as the “mid-market” rate) is the rate that the banks pay to one another. These rates are typically published.
But that doesn’t mean that is what they will charge you. Instead, they usually charge a percentage margin over and above the mid-market rate. This might not be totally transparent and can be difficult to understand.
Even some alternative wire transfer options, such as PayPal, charge these fees. The key is to understand ahead of time what you will be charged, and compare all your options so you know how they stack up.
Exchange Rates and Multi-rail Technology
Veem uses multi-rail technology, which operates by merging traditional systems with more flexibility and speed than typical blockchain technologies provide. Consequently, more options are available for sending funds, with the benefits of greater speed and lower costs. If you’re sending money internationally and want to keep the fees low, this is a no-brainer.
For example, because of the advantage of multi-rail technology, Veem can provide an exchange rate that is typically half as much as what you pay at a traditional bank. That translates to a savings of up to 2 percent on every bill that is sent or received.
Sending an international wire transfer might seem like a trivial task. You need to do it, but it’s not pivotal to your business. Benjamin Franklin said, “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” Understanding options, and a little diligence on the front end, could save you significant amounts of time and money over the long term.
In terms of process, sending an international transfer is summed up in a few steps. First, select the method. Will you use your bank or an alternative provider? Determine what fees are charged with each option. Look further than a provider’s website and call if fees are not clear. This should include outgoing charges, the incoming bank charges, currency exchange fees and any other fee that you will be charged.
Most businesses are surprised that traditional banks aren’t the only option. In fact, alternative methods are less expensive, highly secure, and in some cases even faster than banks.
Business is becoming increasingly global. The seamless transfer of funds is ever more important, and paying suppliers quickly is a key consideration for building stronger business relationships. Selecting the right payments platform is vital to forging these ties.
Veem is a next-generation platform for business-to-business payments. We enable businesses to send and receive payments securely and inexpensively via our unique multi-rail technology.
Our mission is to revolutionize the financial payment system through innovation and improve the costly and outdated payments industry by building a new user-focused global financial ecosystem. For more information, visit our website.