Azimo joins Australian fintechs in fight for cheaper international money transfers

Sending money overseas to friends and family

Digital payments platform Azimo has become the latest international money transfer fintech to set up shop in Australia, joining the IMT scene today with a promise to deliver competitive exchange rates and fast speeds to customers. 

The UK-based service has operated in Europe since 2012, and now eight years on, it's set its sights on Australia as its next large sending market. 

“We’ve always been more interested in the Asia Pacific than the US,” Azimo’s chief operating officer, Dora Ziambra says. 

“Australia is also an English speaking country where there’s less localisation needed [than other Asian Pacific countries], and it’s a place where 30% of the population is foreign born and has connections to another country. So it lends itself as a next step of international expansion.”

And with AU$28 billion remittances sent abroad from Australia every year, Ziambra says “there’s still room for Azimo to offer a competitive product.”

She says Azimo stands out from other digital players in terms of the breadth of its network and its wide range of payout methods. 

“We cover a lot more countries … and [in addition to bank-to-bank transfers] we offer cash payout, mobile wallet, mobile top-up, sending credit to phone, home delivery in some cases, and bank deposits.” 

Customers are able to send money to more than 200 countries and territories, including China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand. 

And while large IMTs with many other providers can take between one to five working days to process, Azimo says most of its transfers arrive in less than 24 hours. 

Instant transfers are also available for over 50 countries, depending on which payout method you choose. For example, while sending funds to a Thailand bank account would be instant (i.e. complete in a few minutes), for transfers to the Philippines to occur immediately, you may need to opt for a cash pickup instead.

Azimo is also expected to appeal to Australia’s Chinese expat community, with instant transfers available thanks to Azimo’s integration with Alipay, a major online payments platform in China. All the customer will need is their recipient’s AliPay ID to send money instantly in yuan. 

“Delivery speed is something we keep investing in,” Ziambra says. “A lot of our customers - as many as 75% - send money for family support, so getting the money there as quickly as possible at the best price possible is what we aim to offer.”

Fewer fees, more transparency

On the pricing front, Ziambra says Azimo charges foreign exchange (FX) rate markups of as little as 2% or under per transfer, plus a flat fee that usually ranges between £0.99 to £1.99 in the UK (or in Australia, the Aussie dollar equivalent of that). 

For comparison, that’s less than a third of the average cost of sending money from Australia, which sits at 7.21% according to the latest World Bank figures (as of September 2020). 

“It’s astonishing that people in Australia are still being charged around 7.5% in fees and markups on average when they send money abroad. We expect to charge well under half this amount on average,” Azimo’s chief executive, Richard Ambrose says. 

“In larger markets, you can use your Australian bank [to make IMTs] but the prices are much higher than what we would offer,” Ziambra adds. “I always say that all the digital players are fighting the same fight … of making financial services more affordable for everyone.”

The precise cost of transferring with Azimo will vary depending on where you’re sending money to and from, which method you’re sending with, and the amount you want to send (for instance, larger transfers of hundreds or thousands of dollars generally come with cheaper rates). 

But if you’re worried about being charged more than expected, the good news is Azimo lets customers know upfront how much they’ll be paying for the transfer. Ziambra says this is part of Azimo’s efforts to be transparent about pricing. 

“I’ve sent money with my bank and I didn’t know how much I paid until after the [transfer] … so for us, it’s important to always tell the customer that they pay a flat fee and that there’s a FX rate,” she says.

“Assuming you’re sending money from Australia to the Philippines, we will show you the exact FX rate that we charge from AUD to PHP and the sending amount, and the exact pick-up money in the equivalent Philippine peso will also be displayed.”

Making safety a seamless experience

Besides transparent pricing, the safety of money transfers is also a focus for Azimo. 

“For me, [the customer’s] trust comes by us delivering our promise of the money getting there when we said it would,” Ziambra says. 

As part of fulfilling that promise, the Azimo app allows users to not only see an estimated delivery time, but also receive real-time updates on when their transaction has been processed and is on its way. 

Azimo also has a number of security processes in place. It has a compliance team that monitors transactions, plus it’s regulated in the multiple jurisdictions that it operates in, including being registered with AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), our anti-money laundering watchdog. In addition, it offers 3D-Secure authentication, which provides an additional layer of security where you have to enter a SMS code to access your account. 

“All [these processes] happen in the background,” Ziambra says. “The customer will essentially never know [about them], but also they shouldn’t care, as we strive to make [safety] as seamless as possible.”

How to sign up to Azimo

To send money with Azimo, you’ll need to register online and you may also be asked to provide documentation to verify your identity, your funds and your address. In most cases, verification should take just a few hours. 

Transfers can be made either via Azimo’s website or app, and for new customers, they’ll get their first two transfers for free if they’re a consumer or their first five transfers for free if they’re a business.

Wondering what other digital money transfer players in Australia are offering better exchange rates than the banks? Head over to our international money transfers hub for a list of these providers and compare their rates for different countries today.