The Best Options For Sending Money To & From India

Last week we revealed that the remittance corridor between the United States and Mexico is the world’s biggest.

World bank data reveals that the US is the largest global sender of remittances, and Mexico the fourth largest receiver; but now let’s consider how to make international money transfers to and from the world’s biggest remittance receiving country: India.

In 2015 India is estimated to have been the destination of 12% of all global remittance transfers; approximately $69 billion was sent back to the country by a 25 million strong Indian diaspora, whilst foreign nationals working in India sent $8.5 billion back to their home countries.

The international money transfer industry in India, however, has been a relatively recent phenomenon. Wikipedia reveals that in 1991, just over $2 billion of remittances were recorded; by 2006, this had grown exponentially to somewhere between $22 – 25 billion.

Another startling change, most likely triggered by the growth in the size of the market, as well as improvements in technology, is the variety of services available today to anyone looking to transfer money into, or out of India.

Until the turn of the decade, most transfers would have been completed at brick and mortar money transfer agencies, and the fees for doing so would have been hefty – not to mention the exchange rates used; skewed in favour of the money transfer operator (MTO) and not the customer.

But modern technology; most notably the rise of online services providers; has swung the balance back in the consumers favour.

Today, in India, most banks offer money transfer services, and besides the banks there are literally hundreds of online or app based services that use disruptive technology to speed up the process of international money transfer, reduce the fees involved, and provide the customer with more and better options.

In our view, when sending larger amounts overseas, it is usually best to use a dedicated money transfer broker; and we provide a comprehensive international money transfer service that compares a selection of the very best brokers as well as MTO’s on The Money Cloud’s home page which is where you will find our international money transfer comparison engine.

But having said that, there are other options too; let’s look at three of the best:


1/ Use a money transfer app;

mobile money has exploded in India, Africa, and most developing countries. Mobile money is ideal for the “unbanked” sections of emerging societies who do not have access to formal bank accounts but also to anybody who is looking for a smart, hassle free way to send money without having to visit a brick and mortar money transfer agency.

Our pick:

Xoom is a handy app that is free to download and use. The functionality is simple and international money transfers can be completed in just a few taps and swipes of your smartphone. Xoom is a Paypal product, which is reassuring to know, and customers can track the progress of their money transfers at any time. Honourable mention to Revolut.


2/ Use a peer to peer matching service

Peer-to-peer services are great for those looking for a fast, efficient and cheap service that cuts out the middleman. Those who want to send e.g. rupees to dollars are matched to those who wish to exchange their dollars for rupees, using super-fast algorithms. The most famous example of such a service is probably TransferWise, founded by two Estonians and based in London. TransferWise has taken the international money transfer industry by storm and caters for nearly every global currency, including India, of course!

Our pick:

it has to be TransferWise, a truly international service that is easy to set up and use.


3/ Use a blockchain based service

This really is bleeding edge technology! The blockchain; a decentralised ledger that relies on a community of transaction “miners” to confirm and process transactions has the potential to be the cheapest and most efficient money transfer service yet.

Our pick:

it is hard to pick just one service so we suggest reading our guide to some of the best blockchain based services out there.


Looking Ahead

As mentioned earlier, domestically India has one of the most exciting mobile money markets in the world, and we feel sure it won’t be long before these globally recognised Indian money transfer services start to add international money transfers to their suite of services. When this happens, it will be hard to think of an international money transfer market as well covered by mobile apps as India.

Google Tez – a major global player that recognises the value of mobile money in India

WhatsApp – phenomenally popular app in India has recently soft-launched a payments service

PayTM – an incredible fintech startup success story and a major player in Indian money transfer – likely to make international transfers available soon.