​Understanding money transfers

remittance

25 Oct 2018 | 4 min. read

You can send money locally or abroad using a money transfer service. Find out who you should deal with and what to watch out for.

Key takeaways

  • Choose your money transfer service provider carefully and make sure they are licensed.
  • Check with your beneficiary to make sure he has received the money you sent.
  • Report any cases of fraud to the police.

What is a money transfer service?

There are 2 types of services:

Domestic money transfer services are local funds transfer services in Singapore.

Cross-border money transfer (or remittance) services involve the transfer of funds to persons outside Singapore.

E-wallet service providers may also provide domestic or cross-border money transfer services. You can may wish to refer to Understanding E-wallets for specific details on e-wallets.

Who you should deal with

If you need to send money to another person in Singapore, you may wish to approach a licensed domestic money transfer service provider. If you need to send money to another country, you may approach a licensed cross-border money transfer service provider. There are other financial institutions such as banks, merchant banks, finance companies or credit card or charge card issuers that provide these services. Check the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)'s list of licensed domestic money transfer service providers and cross-border money transfer service providers (“remittance agent”)

 

In Singapore, it is against the law to carry on a business of providing a money transfer service without a valid licence from the MAS. You should not engage the services of unlicensed persons.

Tip

Banks and remittance agents may impose different commission and exchange rates. Do not choose the remittance agent based on cost alone.

Are money transfer services regulated?

MAS regulates domestic money transfer service providers and remittance agents.

Larger money transfer service providers (major payment institutions) are required to protect the money that you instructed them to transfer. That means that if the service provider’s business fails, you should be able to recover your money. Small money transfer service providers (standard payment institutions) are not required to protect customers’ money, but they must inform you of this. You can check the financial institution directory at this link to check on the licensing status of the money transfer service provider.

 

Report any unlicensed money transfer activity

If you have information to suspect that an individual or a company is carrying on a business of providing money transfer services or advertising to its business of providing money transfer services without a valid licence, you may:

  • Lodge a police report at the nearest police station or online
  • Write to the Commercial Affairs Department at:
    391 New Bridge Road #06-701
    Police Cantonment Complex Block D
    Singapore 088762

Case studies

Be careful who you trust to send your hard-earned money overseas. Take the necessary precautions as anything could go wrong.

Here are a few examples.

The agent who ran away

Ben, a remittance agent, was heavily involved in gambling and lost a lot of money. He offered exchange rates that were much lower than those offered by other agents to attract foreign workers to remit money through him.

Ben then ran away with the money collected. He was later caught and sentenced to jail. Not all the remittance money was recovered.

Unlicensed overseas agents

Danny sent money through ABC Remittance, which used unlicensed agents in the country where Danny’s beneficiary resided. The foreign licensing authority decided to clamp down on unlicensed agents in their country and froze all their assets.

Danny’s remittance did not reach his beneficiary. When he approached ABC Remittance, the agent said the matter was beyond his control and was unable to help. Danny lost all his money.

Tips

  • Choose your service provider carefully. Be wary of special rates that appear too good to be true.

  • Banks and licensed money transfer service providers may charge different commission and exchange rates. Do compare the costs.

  • Find out how your money will be transferred, including the agents they will be using. Ask your service provider what happens if your beneficiary does not receive your remittance.

  • Choose service providers that have installed adequate security systems (e.g. CCTV) to provide a secure and safe environment for you to transfer your money.

  • Bring your personal identification documents for verification purposes.

  • Make sure you obtain a proper receipt as proof of transaction in case of dispute. The receipt should include:

    • Business particulars of licensed service provider

    • Date of transaction, amount transferred, exchange rate (if applicable), commission and other charges

    • The transaction reference number or your particulars and contact details

    • Your beneficiary’s bank account details, where applicable

  • Contact your beneficiary to ensure he has received the money. Domestic money transfer service providers must ensure that the beneficiary receives the money within three business days of the date that any money is accepted for any domestic money transfer service. Remittance agents must ensure that beneficiary receives the money within seven business days of the date that any money is accepted for any cross-border money transfer service

  • Check with your service provider if there is a delay. Domestic money transfer service providers and cross-border money transfer service providers must contact you for further instructions if the money does not reach the beneficiary within the timeframes set out above.

Note

Although money transfer service providers are required to be licensed, such licensing does not guarantee their performance. Customers take the risk of any loss suffered in dealing with them. Cases involving fraud should be reported to the police.

See also:

Last updated on 28 Jan 2020