International money transfers in South Africa
The money transfers in South African banking scene is growing rapidly and can seem daunting to expats who have recently arrived in this beautiful country. However, if you are setting up life in South Africa, it is important that you understand your options when it comes to moving your money in and out of the country.
To help you get the most out of money in South Africa, this guide will unpack your options, including:
International money transfer in South Africa
There are various ways you can send money to and from South Africa. These include traditional bank transfers, money transfer services and of course, mobile banking. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is tasked with monitoring all these institutions and monitoring fraudulent activity.
South Africa is a member state of the Common Monetary Area (CMA) along with Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini. This allows other member states to use the rand interchangeably with their own local currencies. However, only Rand will be accepted in South Africa. The exchange rate between rands and other CMA member currencies is fixed at 1 to 1, meaning that exchange rate fees can be waived when transferring between these countries. However, service charges still apply for transactions.
In other words, regardless of which country you are sending money from or receiving money from money transfers in South Africa to, exchange rates and fees will play a role.
Online international money transfer services in South Africa
Online money transfers are not done by banks, nor do they use the SWIFT system like traditional banks. Instead, they go through money transfer services that send funds between account holders through their own communication systems. Generally speaking, this means faster international transactions for users. Indeed, the money usually arrives between 1-2 days or even in some cases immediately.
Compared to traditional banking, online money transfer platforms are generally a cheaper way to send money to and from money transfers in South Africa. This is because they offer lower exchange rate margins and lower transaction fees.
A number of internationally renowned money transfer services operate in South Africa. However, which is the best choice for you will largely depend on your circumstances so do your research before making a choice. For example, CurrencyFair only supports 17 currencies at the moment and while users in South Africa can open accounts, this is not possible in many other African countries.
International money transfer platforms available in South Africa include:
- of the Sikhs
Before choosing a provider, be sure to use Monito’s comparison platform to check the costs and fees associated with each.
Unfortunately, you cannot currently send money abroad from money transfers in South Africa using Wise (formerly TransferWise). However, someone abroad can send Rand to your money transfers in South African bank account using Wise, as it is a money transfer platform that does not require the recipient to have an account.
How to transfer international money online to South Africa
Paying and receiving is very easy. You need to create an account with the service provider – a digital wallet, if you will – and link it to your bank account. There are no monthly fees for keeping an account with a money transfer service provider. You can then top up this digital wallet to send funds to another account holder.
When you receive money through a money transfer service you can transfer it to your regular bank account, at which point the bank will convert the foreign currency into Rand. Banks charge around 2% conversion fee for this. The same fee applies for transferring Rand from your money transfers in South African bank account and to your Money Transfer Service account.
International money transfers to South Africa through conventional banks
Traditional banks in South Africa use the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system to send money to other banks abroad. money transfers in South Africa banks convert your rand into foreign currency according to the current exchange rate.
International transfers sent through traditional banks are considered highly secure as there is no third party involved. However, it is usually not the cheapest way to send money internationally to money transfers in South Africa.
Cost of international bank transfers in South Africa
Banks in money transfers in South Africa charge a commission fee for every international transaction sent out of the country. This will usually be around 0.5-6.5% (minimum R120-300) depending on the country you are sending to. Additionally, an exchange rate margin of 1.2-5% will be added depending on the foreign currency. Finally, a flat fee of around R100-200 will be added to the bill. This means that 10-25% of the amount you transfer will be taken up by fees.
Be aware, commission fees increase if you are sending money to an African bank account that is part of the Ecobank network. For your recipient to receive the money in their local currency, you will be charged a 4.5% commission. They need to receive the amount
Receiving money in the country will come with a transfer fee of around 0.55% and potentially a flat fee of around R185.
As with any international transfer, you may lose money in the actual conversion to a stronger currency, before any of the above fees come into effect. Therefore, it is a good idea to check the latest exchange rates on platforms like XE or X-Rates. As a rough guide, the exchange rates as of November 2021 were as follows:
USD$1 = R15.17
EUR€1 = R17.49
GBP£1 = R20.43
AUD$ = R11.21
CAD$ = R12.17
SGD$ = R11.22
How long does an international bank transfer take to South Africa?
International bank transfers take one to three business days to process. If you are receiving money from abroad you need to verify the purpose of the money for security reasons. Once you confirm the purpose, the bank converts the money into rand (according to the exchange rate at that time) and deposits it into your account.
Transfers to popular global currencies such as the Euro or US Dollar are usually faster than to less common currencies. Be aware that processing larger amounts may also take longer.
How to transfer money internationally through a South African bank
First of all, you will need to open a money transfers in South African bank account online or by visiting a branch in person. Resident visa holders can open an account in money transfers in South Africa with the following information:
- Passport/Birth Certificate
- Work or study permit
- Address proof (such as utility bill)
- Three months bank statements
Once you’ve set up your account, you’re ready to make and receive international transfers. To send money from your money transfers in South African bank account to someone abroad, you will need the following information about the recipient:
- full name
- physical address
- account no
- IBAN number
- SWIFT code
For some countries, you may also need their SORT or routing code, and reason for payment by BoP code. You also need to show supporting documents, such as an invoice or bill of lading.
International transfers can be made in person or digitally at your nearest bank branch. You can choose to pre-book the exchange rate or use the exchange rate at the time of payment.
To make an international bank transfer, carry the above information with you and your ID or passport. You will be asked to fill a form, show the required documents and the bank will take it from there.
To make digital or mobile international transfers, see the section below.
International money transfer through online and mobile banking in South Africa
Most major traditional banks in money transfers in South Africa have online and mobile banking services that allow you to make international payments from the comfort of your home. money transfers in South African banks offering international money transfers on their banking app include:
- Standard Bank
South African digital banks do not currently offer international transfer facilities. This is because of this form of banking which is still quite new in the country.
Making international transfers through banking apps will cost you the same fees as above, including commission, flat and exchange rate margin fees. The process takes 2-3 working days.
To send money abroad from your money transfers in South African banking app:
- Login to your bank’s mobile app (and link your existing bank account to the app if you haven’t already done so).
- Select Forex or international payment option.
- Add the beneficiary’s personal information and banking details and the amount you want to send them.
- Select the reason (BoP code) for your payment.
- Follow the prompts to complete the payment.
To receive an international transfer to your money transfers in South African bank account, find the Forex section in your app and click on Pending Transactions. Provide the reason (BoP code) for the transaction and follow the prompts to complete the payment.
The mobile banking app has strong security layers. When a bank suspects money laundering they will notify you immediately. Any transactions made from your online account will require your approval to proceed. In addition, a combination of password, pin code and biometric data is required to log into the banking app.
Wire transfer to South Africa
Wire transfer companies are another way to send money to and from money transfers in South Africa. These non-bank providers use the SWIFT system to send money to banks or other service providers. Wire transfer providers operating money transfers in South Africa include:
- Western Union
- Exchange4 Free
Transfer costs can range from R50-14,500 or more. Third-party charges such as account over-limit and cash-out fees may also apply. However, despite these fees, you usually get fast service with the money often arriving within minutes.
To send money abroad, find the location of your nearest agent and take the following documents with you:
- Proof of residence (not older than three months) eg, money transfers in utility bill
- Proof of income eg, pay slip
- Recipient’s full name and country
You can also send money online by creating an account on their website. Select the country you are sending to and the amount in your local currency. Choose whether the recipient receives the money as cash or in their bank account, and select your payment method. Fill in recipient details and confirm with your password or pin code. Simple!
To receive money via wire transfer services such as Western Union, provide the sender with your preferred payment method and your bank details. You will receive a tracking number to trace the funds. If the money is sent directly to your bank account, you don’t need to do much to get the funds. For cash pickup, locate your nearest agent and take your ID and tracking number money transfers in .
Legitimate service providers will require everyone involved in wire transfers to prove their identity and link their profiles to bank accounts, so they are safe and secure. The money transfers in South African Reserve Bank monitors all international payments using wire transfers and flags anything that looks suspicious.