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As economy globalizes, and working permits gradually become easier to obtain, the need to move money between bank accounts in different countries grows. Businesses and individual clients are constantly seeking for the most efficient and price effective method to move their funds globally, and the answer isn’t always straightforward. There is no one specific method which can be considered the best way to transfer money abroad – the selection has to be made on a per-case basis.
Transferring money to, and from, China is a particularly interesting. Some corridors are easy to operate in, and there’s a large selection of services to choose from. For example, there are more than a 1,000 companies that can help you move your money between bank accounts in the UK and the EU, in comparison to only a handful of commercial companies that will support a transfer of funds from China to Singapore.
Outbound bank transfers to China are supported by many companies, including Transferwise, one of the hottest money transfer startups in the world. European, Australian and American banks are known to charge high fees on currency exchanges and in particular with exotic currency pairs. The RMB is still considered as such by the banking standards, alas the exchange rate of US Dollar, British Pound, Euro or Australian Dollar into RMB will be especially poor. Roughly at 4-5% i.e. 4 to 5 per cent of the amount will be taken as fees.
Transferwise charges a flat fee of 1.5% on transfers to China – Quite a substantial difference which makes the platform an obvious choice for people who need to wire money to their Chinese or HK bank account. Read more about Transferwise and its fee structure here.
It’s trickier to send money to China for cash withdrawals. Companies like startup remitsy offer a service that enables clients to send money to an Alipay account, but sending cash involves companies like Western Union or Moneygram who have local agents anywhere in the world, including the Chinese mainland. They are extremely costly, anywhere from 4-10% from the USA to China, according to The World Bank.
Another option which is only available if you are receiving a payment from a business to your Chinese bank account is to use Payoneer. Payoneer is a service that enables freelancers, online sellers or businesses from all over the world to open a virtual bank account abroad. You collect the payments in their designated bank accounts and then can withdraw it through a bank wire to your own bank account, or use a Mastercard they provide you to withdraw it in cash. You are eligible for reduced fees if you use this link.
The Chinese bureaucracy and overregulation has deterred companies from applying for a local money transmitter license. Although China is a massive market for remittances, business transactions and foreign retail, it appears like the foreign exchange firms are happy to “stay out”. Chinese banks are reportedly quite cheap on international transfers, and many of the businesses and expatriates are using HK bank accounts which are easy to open.
So, simply put, the best way to send money from a Chinese bank account is through the bank. Just be aware of the taxation requirements as detailed in this discussion.
Good luck – tell us your experiences moving money in and out of China!
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