Azimo offers cheap overseas money transfers through Facebook

Updated on 22 February 2013 | 1 Comment

Azimo, one of the two cheapest international money transfer services, now lets you transfer money overseas through Facebook at no extra cost.

There are many options open to you if you want to transfer money abroad.

You have the banks and Western Union at the expensive end. Then you have PayPal, and traditional money transfer brokers like HiFX, Global Reach Partners, Halo Financial and World First in the middle.

Finally you have the cheapest options of Azimo, CurrencyFair and TransferWise.

And one of those cheapest options, Azimo, has now made it possible to transfer money overseas through Facebook, as well as to or from mobile phones.

Payments through Facebook

I've written about Azimo before, as you can read in New low-cost international money transfers.

This very cheap service offers some of the fastest transfer times, often just 24 hours and it exchanges with over 100 countries. However, it has made a few changes since the last time I wrote about it.

The biggest change is to become the first overseas money-transfer service to offer transfers through Facebook at no extra cost.

You and your contacts can enter your bank details into Facebook, either secured through your own Facebook log-in or by entering a new password for Azimo's Facebook service. Azimo believes mistakes are less likely to be made through Facebook since bank-account holders enter the details themselves.

You can then transfer money to your contacts through Facebook, who will receive a Facebook message notifying them of the transfer. To reduce fraud, Azimo also analyses key information from Facebook, such as how long the profile has existed, how active it is, how many friends you've got and whether it's linked to a genuine email address.

This could be more convenient for many people.

Payments to mobile phones

Several services, including Azimo, now allow you to top up someone's mobile phone in some countries, mostly developing ones where large parts of the population don't have bank accounts and where mobile payments are growing fast. The mobile-phone owner can use the phone directly to make payments for goods. 

Azimo allows you to send money to phones in two African countries, ten South American countries, seven Asian countries, plus Poland. You can see the full list on this part of Azimo's website.

Payments through your mobile phone

You can access online providers through internet-enabled phones using their normal websites. However, some money-transfer companies have set up services designed to make it easier to pay from your mobile phone, using either an app or a mobile website.

The cheapest is Azimo yet again, although CurrencyFair is just about to release its own app. Azimo offers apps for Android and iPhone that promise to transfer money in under a minute, on-the-go. Using these apps you can transfer money to the recipient in all the same ways that you can through Azimo's internet service: to a foreign bank account, to a mobile phone or to one of 150,000 cash pick-up points.

Pretend to be a business

If you always transfer money to the same people regularly, they could sign up to a service like SumUp. It's really designed for small businesses, but if this service is available in the recipients' countries, it could allow them to receive payments from your debit or credit card through their mobile phones.

However, SumUp charges 2.75%, which is higher than you'd normally expect to pay through CurrencyFair or Azimo. In addition, some card issuers could potentially give you a worse exchange rate than Visa or MasterCard's own extremely good rates.

Personally I think it's a no-go; I just mention it so that you don't feel you have to do the research yourselves.

How they compare on price

To finish, let's take a look at a price comparison of the cheapest three services I can find (and I've looked hard on many occasions). Here it is:

Currency purchase

Pounds needed at no cost “real” exchange rate*

CurrencyFair total cost

Azimo total charge

Transferwise total charge






USD 2,500





PLN 1,500





AUD 2,500





TRY 5,000





*By “real” exchange rate I mean the average mid-market interbank exchange rates of a dozen or so banks, i.e. the exchange rate that will show up if you do a Google search for it.

I've highlighted the cheapest provider at the time of checking for each currency in bold. The cheapest provider in each currency changes on a daily basis and even intradaily, but in all my tests – not just today but on previous occasions – Transferwise has never been cheaper than both CurrencyFair and Azimo. Yet before Azimo and CurrencyFair came along, Transferwise was one of the cheaper ways to transfer money. High-street banks can charge between two and six times more!

I haven't found any other overseas transfer services that come close to Azimo and CurrencyFair on price. With CurrencyFair in particular, you can normally get even better rates the more you exchange, but this is also true of Azimo.

I'm of the opinion that Azimo can't keep its rates as competitive as CurrencyFair forever, because CurrencyFair's business model is the future, but I hope Azimo proves me wrong. In the meantime it's worth having accounts with both providers.

I've used CurrencyFair on a monthly basis for several years now (and will open an Azimo one shortly too). I've found that CurrencyFair's typical cost for euros is just a few pounds when transferring £1,000 to £4,000. These days my CurrencyFair transfers take just 24 hours, but the company says it usually takes up to three days. If it's really important you can pay CurrencyFair around £4 extra to ensure the money arrives quickly.

CurrencyFair is limited to just 17 currencies whereas Azimo offers around three times as many.

More on money transfers:

New low-cost international money transfers

Five ways to transfer money abroad

Five more ways to transfer money abroad

Xendpay: "cheap" money transfers that aren't as good as they look

How bank transfers go wrong


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