WorldFirst Review 92

Currencies
120+
Regulation
FCA, ASIC
Speed
1-2 Days

Company Information

WorldFirst, established in London in 2004 by Jonathan Quin and Nick Robinson, is considered to be an exponent of the ‘new wave of online currency brokers’. The company secured an FCA license in 2008, becoming the first foreign exchange broker in the UK allowed to sell currency options. 2008 was also the year they opened their first offshore office, in Sydney, Australia. Since then, the company has been steadily expanding, logging its millionth trade in 2014. That same year, WorldFirst won the Customer Focus category at the European Business Awards. WorldFirst won the Most Convenient Award in the 2017 edition of the Finder Money Transfer Awards.

Their current numbers are even more impressive:

  • 1 million+ transfers a year
  • £70bn transferred globally
  • More than 400,000 global customers
Established2004
Transfer speed0-4 Days
Transfer Charges
No fixed transfer fees. Mid-market exchange rate.
Currencies100+
RegulationFCA, FinCen, ASIC
Onboarding simplicity
Moderate
Required documentsID, Proof of address (eKYC)
Key features- Super-fast transfers
- Local currency accounts in GBP, EUR, USD, CAD, AUD, NZD, and JPY
Transfer methodsWire transfer, Debit/credit card
TrustPilot rating
Customer service
Outstanding

How WorldFirst Works

WorldFirst is very simple to use. All the process goes in 3 steps:

1) Set up your transfer

To transfer money with WorldFirst, you need an account. Once your account is set up, you define the exact amount you want to send (with a minimum of £1,000 ), who to send it to, and in which currency. Based on your details, you will be quoted a rate in order for you to book your transfer.

WorldFirst offers you the opportunity to fulfill your KYC procedure, necessary for the initial registration, fully online, making the process eKYC — the most up-to-date standard that dismisses the need for the actual paperwork turnover.

2) Send the funds to WorldFirst

After you book your rate, you’ll receive your transfer confirmation containing all the information you need to send the funds to WorldFirst by debit card or bank transfer.

3) Instruct the recipient to collect the money

WorldFirst will convert your funds to the desired currency and transfer the amount to the designated account. Depending on the currency and the destination, payments can arrive on the same day.

How Much Does it Cost to Use WorldFirst

WorldFirst money transfer services involve no transfer fees or excessive currency exchange rates — conditions that are a lot better than what regular high-street banks offer their clients. By using WorldFirst’s service, anyone transferring money across borders gets to save a considerable amount on money transfers compared to choosing “regular transfer methods” they may have used in the past (i.e. banks).

How can an online currency broker offer better exchange rates than banks?

Being a specialized currency exchange service transacting more than $7 billion per year, WorldFirst has access to the interbank exchange rate, which is the rate at which banks buy and sell currency to other banks. They add a margin on the interbank rate to set the exchange rates for clients. WorldFirst charges its clients a considerably smaller margin, which is how you save money on transfers. The amounts WorldFirst clients save may not look impressive on a single small transfer, but they add up quickly on larger transfers. In general, savings range from 0.25% up to 4% of the transfer amount. Fees and exchange rates depend on the amount of money you transfer abroad, the currencies you’re exchanging to and the contemporary exchange rate at the time of the transfer. WorldFirst makes its money from the difference between the buying and selling prices of the currencies you’re transferring, which is known as the spread. WorldFirst charges no additional fee for receiving money or to foreign exchange transactions and also doesn’t charge account holders a monthly user fee. Occasionally, charges may be applied by a third party bank as part of the transfer process, but these fees are not part of the WorldFirst charges.

For business clients, the fee structure is based on the amount of business done together. Fees range from £0 to £15 per transaction. Online sellers are not required to pay a fee for transferring funds back to domestic accounts. However there are fees for transfers to your home account (or another beneficiary, if you are a World Account holder) without a currency conversion.

UK (GBP>EUR) £10, 000 will get you:
ServiceFeeExchange rateRecipient gets
£0*LOW€10,905
£12-£20MEDIUM€10,718

*Charges may occasionally be applied by a third party bank when transferring the funds to WorldFirst or before the funds arrive in the recipient account.

US (USD>EUR) $10, 000 will get you:
ServiceFeeExchange rateRecipient gets
$0*LOW€9,285
$0+4.4% =$440.30HIGH€9,184
3%=$300HIGH€9,124

*Charges may occasionally be applied by a third party bank when transferring the funds to WorldFirst or before the funds arrive in the recipient account.

Australia (AUD>EUR) $10, 000 AUD will get you:
ServiceFeeExchange rateRecipient gets
$0*LOW€6,359
$25-40MEDIUM€5,880

*Charges may occasionally be applied by a third party bank when transferring the funds to WorldFirst or before the funds arrive in the recipient account.

As you see in the table, the combination of the transaction fee and the exchange rate used by the transfer agent may drastically change the final amount that you or your recipient will see on the account payslip.

For example, when Rhonda from London, wants to transfer money to Rome, where she has a vacation apartment bills to cover, she has two options to do it: the “classic” option using a regular bank transfer, or the alternative option using WorldFirst.

Classic Bank transfer

The classic way would be going to your bank and initiate a bank transfer from your current account. In this case, Rhonda will need to set an appointment at Barclays where she is banked, provide the ID, and sign a bunch of papers to start the transaction. Depending on the transfer details Barclays Bank may charge you anything from £15 to £40 as a transaction fee for international transfers and their exchange rate for GBP-EUR is 1.07.  This way, a few business days after, Rhonda’s Rome landlord will see his account is topped by roughly €10,718 out of £10,000 sent.

WorldFirst transfer
Alternatively, you can use a transfer service, such as WorldFirst. Account opening is free and online, so Rhonda will never need to even leave her house: after registration and an online quick authorization, her account will be up and running in no time, with her current Barclays bank account connected. WorldFirst offers a way better deal with no transaction fee and a fair mid-market GBP-EUR exchange rate of 1.09. Within 48 hours on average, and same £10,000 sent by Rhonda, her Rome landlord will receive approximately €10,905, which is about €200 more than via a bank.

As you see in this example, using the fair mid-market range (close to the exchange rate found on Google) in combination with no transaction fees, may change the final transfer amount completely.

Transfer Speed

The duration of the transfer process depends on several factors: the transaction currency, the bank used to fund the transaction and the size of the transaction. If you’re sending pounds, US dollars, or euros, WorldFirst usually makes a same-day payment after your funds have cleared, meaning the funds will arrive the same day. Your bank, however, may hold off crediting your account until the next business day.

For other currencies, it takes 1-4 days before your funds reach the recipient, depending on the currency. In rare circumstances, delays may occur. WorldFirst will do everything reasonably possible to ensure that funds arrive on time, but delays caused by intermediary or receiving banks is out of their control.

Is WorldFirst Safe and Reliable

WorldFirst offers a fully regulated service. Not only do they have to adhere to all the directives of the FCA in the UK, but its activities are also regulated in each of the jurisdictions in which it operates: Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Moreover, WorldFirst is registered with the relevant financial authorities in all those locations.
Transfers executed by WorldFirst are safe and secure. In line with the FCA’s requirements, WorldFirst segregates client funds from business capital. They also hold a 3A2 credit rating from Dun and Bradstreet.

Does WorldFirst Fit Your Needs

Whether you are a private individual sending funds abroad, an online seller, or a business, WorldFirst is a good solution for all purposes. WorldFirst makes transferring money online easy in any scenario.

Online seller Transfers

WorldFirst also aims to service “online sellers”. Are you selling goods or services online internationally? If so, then it’s worth considering WorldFirst as your partner in charge of handling payments. If you have an online shop, or if you’re providing freelance services, you can benefit from WorldFirst’s package of international payment solutions that online sellers need to grow their business. You can access receiving bank accounts abroad, pay invoices and suppliers, and plan transfers ahead for occasions that offer the most advantageous exchange rates.

Features:

  • Local receiving accounts
    WorldFirst offers local receiving accounts in different currencies (GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, NZD, JPY, CNY, and USD). Such accounts can be opened for you in Europe, Canada, Japan, China, and the UK in a process that is both quick and effortless. Once everything is set up, you can start selling to buyers around the world.

Important note: WorldFirst UK Ltd provides clients with access to a receiving bank account in the name of WorldFirst UK Ltd, for the sole purpose of receiving marketplace revenues. Funds held in these accounts are safeguarded and segregated in line with the requirements set by the Payment Services Regulation, 2009. These bank accounts aren’t covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

  • Manage funds across marketplaces
    If you are selling online, you can use your WorldFirst receiving account to collect the money you made from sales on international marketplaces, such as Amazon, Rakuten, eBay, Newegg, PriceMinister, and Cdiscount.
  • Supplier payments
    WorldFirst offers good rates for executing payments to international suppliers. You need to define the exact transfer amount, the recipient, and the desired currency of the transfer. Subsequently, you will be offered the best possible rate based on the live exchange rate of the day.
  • Forward contracts
    If you want to benefit from a favorable current rate, but you aren’t quite ready to make a transfer yet — you have the option to freeze the rate up to 3 years ahead.
    WorldFirst does not charge additional fees. Regardless of where you are selling, opening an account is completely free of charge, and no hidden fees (monthly fees, transfer fees, and so on.) apply.

Personal Transfers

WorldFirst is a trusted partner for many different purposes: if you’re buying property abroad, transferring overseas earnings home, making private investments, paying bills, booking travel services, or remitting a recurring payment, WorldFirst will make sure your money reaches the designated recipient safely and without problems, anywhere in the world.

Features:

  • Fast, secure transfers
  • Bank-beating exchange rates
  • Solid client service and 24/7 customer support.
  • Anytime, anywhere: open your account and start making your international payments — online, by email or over the phone.

WorldFirst For Business

Business Transfers

The main focus of WorldFirst’s operations has historically been on business-related money transfers.
If you need to pay foreign suppliers, employees, or partners, if you want to invest in a business project abroad, or quickly want to buy a foreign asset, WorldFirst is a reliable partner. They promise to execute payments quickly and securely. That’s not all: they also do it up to 48% cheaper than most banks.
First of all, you will need to open an account. WorldFirst then assigns you a dedicated Account Manager, company policy for business users,  who guides you through the login procedure and helps you choose the right account type.

Features:

  • Spot contracts
    Get an exchange rate quote to make immediate payment. Ideal for when you need to move your money as soon as possible.
  • Forward contracts
    Secure a current exchange rate for a fixed amount of currency, for a set period of time. Great for planning ahead.
  • Firm orders
    If the timing of a transfer is of less importance than the rate at which you make the transfer, WorldFirst offers you the option to place a so-called firm order With which you instruct WorldFirst to execute a transaction on your behalf at a specific rate of your choice. Basically, you’re giving WorldFirst the responsibility to act at the right time – when the rate is optimal.
  • Market updates
    Currency markets can move quickly and unpredictably. To be on top of everything, make sure you sign up for WorldFirst market updates. WorldFirst will watch the market for you and send you insights and analyses directly to your inbox.
  • Anytime, anywhere
    Make your international payments online, by email, or over the phone.
  • Easy bulk payments
    When you need to make a number of payments at once, upload the details for all the payments to the online platform, and execute them in a single one-click operation. If desired, WorldFirst can create a tailor-made, fully automated system for your specific needs.

Registration and Onboarding

Account set-up is fast, simple and free.

If you want to open an account for personal use you can do it over the phone or online. It normally takes no more than 5 minutes and is done by completing a simple online registration form, or about 10 minutes over the phone. After that, WorldFirst representatives will get in touch to verify some details and complete the process. Usually, your account will be up and running within an hour, since the company still needs to verify your identity for security and legal reasons.

Business clients and online sellers can open an account online too. It may take a little longer, but WorldFirst team will get you sorted out as fast as they can.

As a standard, to complete verification of your ID, you’ll need to provide a high-quality photo or scan of a valid ID document from the following list:

  • Passport
  • Driver’s Licence
  • Government-issued National ID Card

Accepted address verification documents are copies of any of the following (in order of preference):

  • Bank Statement
  • Credit Card Statement
  • Driver’s Licence (if containing full residential address)
  • Utility Bills – cable television, electricity, gas, water, telephone bill
  • Local Council Notices
  • Revenue Notices (Annual Tax Certificates)
  • Household Insurance or Renewal Notice

Customer Support

The WorldFirst support staff is available 24/7 and can be reached via email and by phone, for which they offer a variety of toll-free local and international phone numbers and an additional, very convenient call-back service.

Bottom Line

WorldFirst offers all types of clients (business, personal, online seller) a solid money transfer service. This includes competitive, bank-beating rates, a reasonable fee structure based on usage (for business clients only – personal and online seller account holder don’t pay fees), a market-conform security level, and several ‘nice-to-have’ special features for all account types. The company is licensed in several territories around the world and strictly regulated by multiple international financial authorities, which definitely adds to its reliability and trustworthiness. WorldFirst receives a high user-rating for its service and customer support and has won several awards over the years. All in all it is a highly recommended money transfer service.

Pros

  • Free account
  • No transfer fees for personal and online seller accounts
  • Bank-beating exchange rates
  • Local receiving accounts
  • Excellent support
  • Fully regulated & licensed
  • Safe and secure money transfers

Cons

  • Slower transfers for specific locations (mostly South America)
  • Additional inquiry necessary for info on destination countries and supported currencies