WorldFirst Review

WorldFirst is a London-based international money transfer and payments business that allows both personal and business clients to transact in more than 180 currencies. Its pricing is transparent with exchange rates tiered based on the amount transacted. Compared across 27 currencies, WorldFirst is 85% cheaper than banks.

While the great exchange rates and global coverage are certainly a plus for WorldFirst, its minimum transfer of $1000 for personal accounts potentially locks out many customers looking to transfer small regular amounts to their families back home.

Also, based on a shareholder decision, WorldFirst US operations were discontinued and the firm rebranded to Omega as from February 20, 2019.

    Date Founded:
    2004
    Provider Type:
    Forex Exchange
    HQ Location:
    London, UK
    Regulators:
    FCA
    Mobile Friendly:
    Yes
    Mobile App:
    Yes
    Languages Available:
    English, French
    Transfer Options:
    Online
    Withdrawal Options:
    Bank
    Payment Options:
    Credit Card, Debit Card, Bank Transfer
    Regular Payments:
    No
    Supported Currencies:
    AED, AFN, ALL, AMD, ANG, AOA, ARS, AUD, AWG, AZN, BAM, BBD, BDT, BGN, BHD, BIF, BMD, BND, BOB, BRL, BSD, BTN, BWP, BYR, BZD, CAD, CDF, CHF, CLF, CNY, COP, CRC, CUC, CVE, CZK, DJF, DKK, DOP, DZD, EGP, ERN, ETB, EUR, FJD, FKP, GBP, GEL, GHS, GIP, GMD, GNF, GTQ, GYD, HKD, HNL, HRK, HTG, HUF, IDR, ILS, INR, IQD, IRR, ISK, JMD, JOD, JPY, KES, KGS, KHR, KMF, KPW, KRW, KWD, KYD, KZT, LAK, LBP, LKR, LRD, LSL, LYD, MAD, MDL, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MRO, MUR, MVR, MWK, MXN, MYR, MZN, NAD, NGN, NIO, NOK, NPR, NZD, OMR, PAB, PEN, PGK, PHP, PKR, PLN, PYG, QAR, RON, RSD, RUB, RWF, SAR, SBD, SCR, SDG, SEK, SGD, SHP, SLL, SOS, SRD, SSP, STN, SVC, SYP, SZL, THB, TJS, TMT, TND, TOP, TRY, TTD, TWD, TZS, UAH, UGX, USD, UYU, UZS, VEF, VND, VUV, WST, XAF, XCD, XOF, XPF, YER, ZAR, ZMK

    WorldFirst's exchange rates and fees

    WorldFirst has a tiered and transparent exchange rate system with comparatively lower or non-existent transaction fees. This combination gives its customers fairly priced and competitive transfer deals.

    • Transfer Fees - WorldFirst does not charge any fees for personal wire transfers and payments. However, businesses pay anything between $10 and $30 depending on the amount being transferred. Private clients transacting $100,000 and above do not pay any transfer fees.
    • Exchange Rate - Exchange rates are realtime and priced about 2% above the mid-market rate. The pricing comprises 3 simple and transparent bands of 0.50%, 0.25% and 0.15%. This pricing structure makes it easier to compare WorldFirst with other providers.
    • Other Fees -You may incur sending and receiving fees on either end of the transaction depending on the banks you use. To minimise these costs, transact using local banks within the WorldFirst network in the sending and receiving countries.

    Top WorldFirst transfer destinations

    Apart from its London, U.K. offices, WorldFirst has 5 other global offices in Netherlands, China - Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. WorldFirst has expanded rapidly and now supports 180 currencies. The major transfer corridors for the company are Australia, Canada, France, Europe, Spain, New Zealand and the UK.

    In addition, WorldFirst has made life easier for its customers by entering into contractual agreements with banks in many of the sending and receiving countries. These agreements lower the transfer fees and speed up transactions.

    Unlike other providers, WorldFirst offers uniform services across all countries. Depending on your region, you can access WorldFirst websites in English, French, Chinese, Dutch, and Japanese.

    Pros and Cons of using WorldFirst

    WorldFirst is structured to serve individuals, online sellers, and businesses. The attractive fees, transparent, and tiered foreign exchange rates and global support for different currencies make it a preferred money transfer provider. On the other end, transfer speeds and high minimum transfer amounts lock out many would-be customers.

    Pros

    • Minimal Transfer Fees - Personal transfers are free and businesses pay transaction fees ranging from $10 to 30. Exchange rates are priced in 3 bands of 0.50%, 0.25%, and 0.15% depending on the amounts being transacted.
    • Currency Support - WorldFirst, supports 180+ currencies. When sending to corridors with less traded, exotic currencies, this can be a huge advantage.
    • Flexible Sending Options - WorldFirst understands business dynamics, especially around exchange rate variations. To help businesses and individuals transact at any time, WorldFirst offers spot contracts for one time transfers, forward contracts to lock in rates for future transfers, and recurring payments options.
    • Customer Support – The customer support team at WorldFirst is truly world-class. The representatives respond quickly to customer queries, competently handle lots of questions on different subjects, and are available on phone and live chat. Office hours are Monday – Friday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm
    • Customised services - WorldFirst has dedicated products and support for marketplace and e-commerce customers. The value is more than just sending money, there is an extra layer of difference that WorldFirst offers.

    Cons

    • Higher Transfer Thresholds - The $1,000 minimum for personal accounts is quite high for regular customers who transfer small amounts to their families.
    • Limited Transfer Payout Options - You can only transfer to bank accounts. There is no options for cash pickups, airtime, or mobile transfers.
    • Not Available in the US - Following the discontinuation on February 20, 2019, WorldFirst is no longer available in the United States. Instead, US customers are redirected to Omega. This is a huge blow to WorldFirst loyal customers.

    What type of transfers can you make?

    WorldFirst has differentiated itself with respect to its clientele, transfer methods, and payment options. You can only make bank transfers to the recipient that are delivered as bank deposits into the beneficiaries account. The type of transfers you can make are:

    • Same-day Transfers - You can book and make same-day transfers for a large number of currencies. However, your payment for the transfer needs to have cleared before the cutoff time (15:00 GMT for GBP & USD and 14:00 GMT for EUR).
    • Limit Orders – When your ideal exchange rate is reached, limit order transfers automatically.
    • Forward Exchange Contract Transfers – This type of transfer allows you to lock in an exchange rate for future transfers. It can last up to three years.

    How long will it take to receive money?

    On the minimum, transfers using WorldFirst take a day to complete. Depending on the country, size of transaction and currency, you can enjoy same-day transfers. To be prudent, WorldFirst gives a window of up to 4 days to complete the transfer.

    The delays are often caused by bureaucracies and added security measures from the sending and receiving banks. The other source of delay is is the payment method used. Also, transferring in major currencies such as AUD, NZD, GBP, USD or EUR gives you same-day transfer speeds.

    When compared with online transfer providers such as WorldRemit, TranferWise and OFX, WorldFirst falls within the normal range for bank transfer speeds. When it comes to banks, WorldFirst is faster for transfers made through branches or subsidiaries of the same bank.

    What payment methods can I use?

    When sending money using WorldFirst, your payment options are limited to bank transfers. In fact, if you do not have a bank account, it becomes almost impossible to transfer money through WorldFirst. The following are the payment methods you can use:

    • Debit Card - If you are a private client, you can use a debit card to pay for your transfer. Debit card payments are the fastest.
    • Online/Telephone Banking - Just like the debit card payment, this also arrives the same day
    • BACS – Funds paid through BACS take two days to get to WorldFirst meaning they will be cleared on the third day and that is when your transfer can be executed.
    • Direct Debit - This option is fr corporate clients and you have to call to set up. It takes the same time as BACS.
    • CHAPS -This payment method is faster. It arrives on the same day.

    Generally, the payment options available on WorldFirst differ based on the region. Australia, for instance, has 2 payment options while France and the UK have 5 payment options each.

    What to use WorldFirst for?

    WorldFirst has a variety of products and offerings that make it attractive to individuals, businesses, and online sellers. There are lots of use cases for WorldFirst as a payment and transfer platform.

    Business – If you are into international trade or deal with freelancers and suppliers from different countries, WorldFirst can help you to:

    • Pay international suppliers
    • Pay freelancers and contractors in different countries
    • Get paid in different currencies

    When making international supplies and payments, WorldFirst gives you forward contracts where you can lock in an exchange rate to avoid currency fluctuation losses.

    Personal Transfers – WorldFirst gives you more value for your money when transacting or sending money abroad.

    • Sending recurring payments for school fees or loan repayments
    • Repatriating earnings back home
    • Making purchases abroad

    With $0 transfer fee ob personal accounts, you can plan your transfers and target a rate which if reached, your transfer gets sent to the recipient.

    Marketplace Sellers – You can maintain overseas accounts in different currencies to suit your online activities. You can hold and send funds on the World account to help you:

    • Manage payments and receipts for an import and export business
    • Accelerate fund movements for service businesses
    • Achieve better exchange rates when trading on platforms such as Shopify, eBay, or Amazon

    Can I trust WorldFirst?

    WorldFirst is a global company that was established in 2004 in South London by Jonathan Quin. Since then, the company has grown in size and expanded to other markets including China-Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. In terms of employee size, WorldFirst has a team of 600 employees who serve the 400,000+ global customers and about 150 businesses. To date, the company has transferred more than £70 billion at a rate of 1 million transfers per year.

    Due to the global nature of its operation, WorldFirst is licensed and regulated by different financial authorities in the different regions it operates as follows:

    Australia – WorldFirst operates as World First Pty Ltd. It is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). It also holds an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) and has an active Australian Financial Complaints membership.

    UK – Here, WorldFirst is registered as WorldFirst UK Ltd and authorized as an Electronic Money Institution by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

    Canada – WorldFirst UK Ltd is separately registered here and licensed as a money service business under the Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC).

    China Hong Kong – The company operates as World First Asia Ltd and is regulated under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. It is also licensed as a Money Service Operator.

    Singapore – In this Asian country, WorldFirst operates as World First Asia Pte Ltd. It’s regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a remittance business.

    The regulations ensure safety and confidentiality of customer funds and information. There is a minimum capital threshold WorldFirst is required to maintain as part of its compliance to these regulations. On Feb 14, 2019, WorldFirst was acquired by Ant Financial at a valuation of $700M. This shows how strong it is in its capital base.

    When you sign up for WorldFirst account, your details will be verified before you are allowed to transact. WorldFirst also has two-factor authentication (2FA) which they use to verify your identity when performing certain activities on your account.

    All the information you may need about WorldFirst is available on its website and on request. The company is transparent in its pricing, has an active Monday to Friday phone and live chat customer support and a detailed FAQ section.  

    What users have to say?

    Customers who have interacted with WorldFirst have acknowledged the comparatively lower transfer fees, favourable exchange rates and customer support. So far the company has 560 reviews on Trustpilot, 70% of which are rated as excellent and 9% as good.

    • Affordability- With $0 transfer fee and between $10 and $30 for business accounts, WorldFirst is highly rated as one of the most affordable money transfer service providers.
    • Professional Customer Support- The phone and live chat support have helped customers get real-time assistance in sorting out their transfers and related issues.
    • Exchange Rate – Supporting 180+ currencies, customers highlighted the transparent and tiered exchange rate pricing as the most attractive.   

    The 4% who rated the company as poor and 15% who rated it as bad, complained of occasional delays where transfers took 4 to 5 days to reach their recipients. Some of them had issues with blocked accounts following unsuccessful verifications.

    How to send and receive money?

    WorldFirst has simplified sending money through its platform. The following are the steps to get you started with WorldFirst:

    How to Send Money Using WorldFirst?

    Step 1: Sign up for a WorldFirst account online or through phone. This will take you about 10 minutes.

    Step 2: Identity verification and submission of any requested information  

    Step 3: Login and set up your transfer by confirming the live rates

    Step 4: Enter the recipient's details, amount of money to send, and counter check for accuracy

    Step 5: Pay for your transfer through debit card, bank transfer, or the available methods in your region

    Step 6: Leave the rest to WolrdFirst who will convert the money and send to the recipient through bank transfer.  

    How to Receive Money Using WorldFirst?

    The money is deposited into the recipient’s bank account. Apart from acknowledging receipt, there is nothing else the recipient is expected to do.

    Does WorldFirst have a mobile app?

    Yes, WorldFirst has an app available as a free download for personal customers only on Google Play and App Store. Through the App you can do the following:

    • Make payments
    • Track transfers in progress
    • View live rates
    • Initiate card payments
    • Get market updates on various developments

    The WordFirst App can also synchronize with your Android smartwatch to enable wearable money transfers in seconds.

    On Google Play, the app has 10,000 downloads and a rating of 2.8 with 168 reviews. The app is available in select countries.

    Can I cancel my transfer?

    If you have made an erroneous payment and you want it cancelled, you can get in touch with your account manager or customer support. They will recall the payment and notify the recipient bank.

    The currency, bank, and destination will determine the cancellation possibilities and how soon the money is returned.

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