WorldFirst Singapore review: Your full guide here

Ileana Ionescu

WorldFirst is a global company, launched in 2004, which offers international payment services for private and business customers. They also provide a multi-currency account product to trade across different currencies easily.

All in all, WorldFirst have helped customers move around $125 billion since their launch 15 years ago.

If you‘re considering using WorldFirst Singapore to make a money transfer, you’ll want to do some research to check the process and costs involved.

This helpful guide covers everything you need to know, such as:

We’ll also briefly cover some pros and cons of using WorldFirst, and introduce an alternative provider for comparison - Wise. Let’s dive right into our WorldFirst Singapore review.

How can you make an international transfer with WorldFirst Singapore?

WorldFirst have a few different product options, depending on customer needs. It’s good to know that the process, costs, and rates on offer can vary depending on whether you’re a private or business customer, and the amounts of money you’re sending.

Before you get started with WorldFirst, you’ll need to register, and choose between the following services:

WorldFirst personal transfers

Personal customers can send money internationally to many different countries and currencies. The minimum transfer value is SGD2,000.

Transfers are made online, and paid directly into your recipient’s bank account. For personal customers, WorldFirst don’t charge an upfront admin or service fee. Instead, they add a margin to the exchange rate they offer. More on that - and how to understand the costs of WorldFirst’s international payments for personal customers, later.¹

WorldFirst business transfers

If you sign up as a business customer with WorldFirst, you’ll be able to make international payments, and get local bank account details for different countries. Business customers can also make bulk payments to process multiple transfers at the same time. ²

Fees for business customers depend on the type and volume of payments you’re making.

WorldFirst for online sellers

WorldFirst have a specific product for online sellers, which allows you to open local accounts in foreign currencies. You can get accounts in GBP, EUR, CAD, USD, AUD, NZD, and JPY, as well as in SGD. You’ll be able to have customers pay you directly in foreign currencies, and then convert the currency to SGD to withdraw it to your regular bank account.

You may pay a fee for converting currency, or for withdrawing money to a local account in Singapore without currency conversion.³

What are the fees for sending money internationally with WorldFirst?

When you want to make a payment with WorldFirst, you’ll need to register as a customer, and then go to the ‘Book a rate’ page. Here you input the details of the transfer you want to make, to get a quote from WorldFirst which shows the exchange rate you’re able to access, and the total cost of the payment.

If you choose to go ahead, you’ll send your money to WorldFirst, who will then pass the payment, in local currency, to your chosen beneficiary.

The costs of making a payment depend on the country and currency you’re sending money to, how much you’re sending and also the payment route. Here are some costs you should know about:

Payment type Costs and limits to consider
Personal payments with WorldFirst ¹
  • Minimum payment SGD2,000
  • Fees: exchange rate markup + possible SWIFT costs.
Business payments with WorldFirst ²
  • Costs are agreed depending on the volume of payments made.
WorldFirst online seller account ³
  • Opening an account is free
  • There’s no upfront cost for withdrawing money from a foreign currency to a local account in Singapore, but you may pay an exchange rate markup.
  • You may have to pay a fee for withdrawing money to an account without a currency exchange.

You might find that WorldFirst uses the SWIFT network to process your payment. This is an established method of moving money across borders, but it can mean that you incur extra charges because several banks may be involved in processing the payment. Where this happens, each bank can charge an extra fee for the part they play in moving your money. Here’s what WorldFirst say, in their FAQ section: ⁴

“Sometimes the banks in the middle and at the end will take a charge, so it seems that not all the money has been sent but we try our best to make sure all your money gets to where it needs to by covering correspondent and receiving charges where we can.”

One of the main problems with the SWIFT network is that the charges can be impossible to figure out in advance. That means that you won’t always know before you process your payment, what the total cost will be. You might find that your recipient gets less than you expect into their account in the end.

Not all international payment providers choose to use the SWIFT network. Wise uses a different approach to payments, which means that most international transfers avoid the SWIFT system entirely. More on low cost international payments with Wise, a little later.

Transferring money internationally with WorldFirst?

It’s a good idea to weigh up all its characteristics before using WorldFirst. Here are a few points to consider:

  • WorldFirst is a global company, fully regulated in the countries they operate in
  • Manage your payments online or over the phone
  • Wide range of currencies and countries offered
  • Bulk payments are available for business customers, cutting your admin time
  • Use of an exchange rate markup makes it hard to see the full fee you’re paying for the service
  • You may pay additional SWIFT fees which WorldFirst can’t tell you about in advance
  • Minimum payments of SGD2,000
  • Transfer times vary depending on the method you use to send money to WorldFirst, the country it’s headed to, and the local currency

What’s the exchange rate WorldFirst uses for international transfers?

To see the exchange rate WorldFirst will offer for your transfer, you have to register as a customer and model the payment. It’s helpful to know that the currency converter available on the main website home page doesn’t actually show the WorldFirst rate. Instead, this displays the mid-market exchange rate, which is the one you’ll find with a google search.

As mentioned above, WorldFirst charges an exchange rate margin, or spread. That means they take the mid-market exchange rate, which is also known as the interbank rate, and add a markup before passing it on to customers. Here’s what WorldFirst say about how they fix the exchange rate they use:

“Use our currency converter to check the Interbank rate. This is not our offered rate, an indication of price, or that we support the nominated currency pair in all circumstances. The rate we quote you will include our commission, which is simply the difference between the rate we buy your currency and the rate we sell it to you. We will always be upfront and transparent about our commission rate.” ⁵

Although it is extremely common for banks and other payment providers to use an exchange rate spread, there are services out there which do not add a margin to the exchange rate they offer. Wise, for example, use the mid-market exchange rate, and charge a low upfront fee for making a transfer. This means that there are no hidden costs, and it’s easy to see the price you’re paying for the service. This can work out cheaper for many customers.

Compare the costs with Wise, to see if you can save

Before you choose an international payment service for your personal or business payments, it’s well worth checking out and compare the costs of using Wise.

All payments are made using the mid-market exchange rate, and for just a small upfront fee. You can send money all around the globe - and you might find you save even more time and money by opening a Wise multi-currency borderless account.

With a borderless account you can keep your money in over 40 different currencies, and get local bank details to receive payments for free in major currencies such as British pounds, euros, US, Australian and New Zealand dollars.

There’s lots of choice out there for people looking to make international transfers, or manage their money conveniently between currencies. By doing a bit of research, and taking into account all the different costs and benefits, you’ll be sure to find the service that’s right for you. Make sure to check out Wise as a comparison, to see if you can save.

Sources used in the article:

  1. WorldFirst for private clients.
  2. WorldFirst for business clients.
  3. WorldFirst for online sellers.
  4. Costs, limits and characteristics of WorldFirst services.
  5. Information about the conversion rate WorldFirst uses.

All sources checked 16 May 2019

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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