ASIC Victorian Regional Commissioner Warren Day talks to
SBS about shopping around for a good exchange rate when
sending money to friends and family overseas.
Narrator: Around the globe, more than 250
million people live outside their country of birth and many
migrants choose to send money to families back home.
Australians are also transferring more money overseas than ever
before, but the hidden costs can be hefty.
Like many other Vietnamese migrants, Emma Tran sends money to
her elderly parents.
She feels responsible for paying back some of the debt they
incurred for raising her.
Emma Tran: They don't need my money but I
want to give them back a little bit, so sometimes I send them money
for a ceremony or for a gift for them. Although they don't need it,
they are happy to receive it.
Narrator: Emma Tran says in Vietnam adult
children are obliged to look after their parents and other family
members in their old age.
Emma Tran: For Vietnamese people it is like a
culture that when children grow up and they have responsibility to
take care for their parents.
Narrator: Vietnamese migrants from around the
world send about 10 billion dollars to families back home every
About 10 per cent of this amount comes from Australia.
Emma Tran says many of her friends send money home and these
payments can be an important part of the income of siblings and
Emma Tran: Most of them they need to support
their family in Vietnam because - you know - compared, the living
standard in Vietnam and Australia, the living standard in Vietnam
is worse. Many families in Vietnam are still living in a poor
Narrator: There are many ways of transferring
Emma Tran prefers to use her own bank.
Emma Tran: I use as main transfer to send money
from bank to bank. For me that's a simple way to transfer. But most
Vietnamese people they use Vietnamese agencies.
Narrator: Using a bank is one of the easiest
ways of sending money overseas but it is also the most costly.
Every Australian bank will charge a different fee for their
Usually it's between $10 and $32 for each money transfer.
When it comes to sending smaller amounts of up to one-thousand
dollars to family and friends, cheaper options are 'non-bank' money
Their transfer fees vary between $0 and $15 for small
However, the transfer might take longer because setting up an
account and getting approval can take a few days.
Another important factor to consider is the daily exchange rate
between the Australian dollar and other currencies.
Warren Day, Regional Commissioner Victoria of the Australian
Securities and Investments Commission says, a good exchange rate
means more money for those who need financial support.
Warren Day: There are lots of options but you
should shop around for a good exchange rate. This could mean the
difference between more money or less money in the bank account of
the person you are sending the money to.
Narrator: He says there are few complaints
about money transfer operators in Australia, but customers should
always take care and be comfortable with whom they use.
Warren Day: You can compare companies that send
money overseas on several websites which are supported by the World
Bank. They include SendMoneyPacific and SendMoneyAsia. Again, make
sure you do your research before using a money transfer service
because if you're not careful you could fall victim to a money
transfer scam and it's almost impossible to get your money
Narrator: Abdimalik Abdi is the director of
Dahabshiil, a money transfer company in Sydney's Western suburbs
with a focus on countries in east Africa.
Abdimalik came from Somalia 20 years ago.
He says that like many of his customers, he is also sending
money back home.
Abdimalik Abdi: I'm sending
to my mom back home since I was here. So I have to give them
support to do their normal house expenses. The money they get from
here is their lifeline.
Narrator: Sending money through a 'non-bank'
transfer service is not difficult and only requires a check of
Abdimalik Abdi: In money
transfer you need the details of the person who is sending the
money and the details of the person who receives the money. That is
the main thing. You have to provide your ID or passport or driver
license to prove you are the actual person who is transferring the
money because in Australia there is a regulation, the money
Narrator: Once the identities of the sender and
the recipient have been established, the actual money transfer only
takes minutes and all fees are paid by the sender.
Abdimalik Abdi: When a
person sends money, we give a receipt and a transaction number, so
this person in here can send this message to the person over there.
So, this person in Africa can go to our branches and offices back
home with the transaction number and receive the money straight
away, sometimes within minutes.
Narrator: But what happens if the money sent
Warren Day says the first complaint should go to the company
that handled the money transfer.
Warren Day: If they are not able to find your
money or you're not satisfied with the response you're getting from
them, you can complain to the financial ombudsman service. You can
call them on 1800 367 287. You can also visit ASIC's Money Smart
website, that's moneysmart.gov.au for more guidance.
Narrator: Different transfer agencies have
different limits on the amounts of money they allow customers to
However, under current Federal legislation, all Australian
financial institutions are required to report cash transactions of
$10,000 or more, including details of the relevant account holders,
to the regulator AUSTRAC.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre monitors
financial transactions to identify instances of money laundering,
organised crime and tax evasion.