Should I Use Instarem?
Services Offered by Instarem
Instarem Review: Executive SummaryInstarem is a remittance service that allows users to send money abroad quickly and easily. The service uses the latest technology to make international money transfers faster and more convenient for customers. Instarem is not the best choice for large money transfers, especially if dealing with the US and the US dollar. Similarly to other providers that focus on technology, the customer support is lacking or is simply not available.
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This Instarem review is designed to easily explain the pros and cons of using the Singapore-headquartered remittances firm to make international money transfers. We focus on the important aspects like Instarem’s international payment fees, exchange rates, the quality of Instarem’s online platform and the overall level of service provided. Find Instarem alternatives with similar offering and better scores below:
- Largest Money Transfer Provider of its Kind
- Fees for Most Routes under £1
- Fully-Online Journey with Transparent Pricing
- You Pay the Same Percentage of Deal Regardless of Remittance Transfe rSize
- Very Easy to Use - Computer or Mobile
- Quick Transactions - Some Destinations/Recepients Are Instant
- Wide Reach but Many Countries in Asia and Africa are Not Available
- Excellent Reach - Transfer to Any Country with no Fixed Fees
- Intuitive Online System, Easy to Understand and Use
- 24/7 Support Wherever You Are on The Globe - Be Treated with Respect
- The Best Money Transfer App
- 115 Bank Accounts Across the World
- Accepting Clients from Everywhere, Almost
- #1 Rating on MTC for the Past 2 Years - Tailored to Larger Transfers with Excellent Phone Service
- No Fees on any Transfers, Ever
- Very Friendly Online Platform
- Multi-Lingual Website and Staff
- Fully-Functional App
- Diverse Hedging Options for Businesses
- Will Handle Transfer of Any Size
- Fund Transfers via Domestic Bank Transfer or Debit Card
- Accepts Clients Globally (USA - depending on state)
- No Fees on GBP payments, EUR Charged at €3
- Very Low Margins, Down To 0.33%
- Great Reputation And Client Reactions
- Regulated By Central Bank Of Ireland
- Well Funded And Stable
- Recent Merger With Assembly Payments
- Very well known
- Good online system
- Tight margins
- Strong mobile app
- Supporting 60 currencies and 200 countries
- Multiple industry awards
- ltilingual Support Team
- Excellent Client Feedback
- Over 2.5 million Customers to Date
Is Instarem Safe?
Singapore-headquartered Instarem was launched in 2014 by current CEO Prajit Nanu and co-founder Michael Bermingham. Indian-born Prajit Nanu was the catalyst behind Instarem, holding one simple objective – to make it easier and cheaper for everyone to make international currency transfers around the world. Instarem seeks to empower people to do more with their money, taking better control of their finances wherever they are in the world.
Instarem has enjoyed tremendous growth since inception, continuing to grow its international footprint year by year. In 2015, Instarem attained its first money transmission license in Australia, quickly picking up 8% of all AUD to INR transaction flows and received its first seed funding of $500k from GFC. Later in the same year, Instarem attained an MSB license in Canada and opened offices in India, Singapore & Australia. All this done with just 10 employees.
Rapid growth saw a second, much more sizable funding round of $5m in 2016, led by Vertex Ventures. Instarem used the capital to launch an office in the US and successfully gain MSB License approval in Hong Kong, Singapore and parts of the US.
In 2017 the firm raised an additional $13m through GSR Ventures and processed $1bn in transactions. Offices in the UK, Hong Kong, Malaysia, EU followed as the team grew to 100+ staff. An MSB license in Malaysia and EMI license in Europe meant the firm could start offering its services in more destinations.
The following year, Instarem launched real-time delivery to 50+ countries and multi-currency bank accounts, a digital trend which is making it drastically easier for individuals to travel and businesses to collect and make payments overseas.
The firm raised a further $35m in 2019 through Vertex Growth and Atinum, which was the same year the firm launched NIUM. A platform that connects business and financial institutions to a global payment infrastructure through one API. Instarem is now the SME & private client focused arm of NIUM.
Fast forward to 2021 and NIUM/Instarem has acquired Ixaris, the world’s 3rd largest B2B Travel card issuer, reached over 500 staff and has raised a whopping $200m in its latest funding round, valuing NIUM at over $1bn. Most recently, Instarem launched an office in Japan, taking the total number of offices to 12. Asia remains the primary focus for the firm and this is reflected by NIUM/Instarem’s headquarters being held in Singapore. The Asia focus is appropriate due to many of the major money transfer companies having a strong presence throughout the UK & Europe.
NIUM Pte. Ltd. (formerly known as Instarem Pte. Limited) is the holding company of NIUM and Instarem subsidiaries globally.
It is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a major payment institution in Singapore under License No. PS20200276
Australia: NIUM PTY Limited (formerly known as Instarem PTY Ltd) is regulated in Australia by ASIC (AFS License No. 464627)
Canada: NIUM Canada Corporation (formerly known as Instarem Canada Corporation) (License No. M15669293) is regulated by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada
Hong Kong: NIUM LIMITED (formerly known as Instarem LIMITED) (License No. 16/01/01797) is regulated by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department
India: NIUM India Pvt. Ltd. (formerly known as Instarem India Pvt. Ltd.) operates in association with SBM Bank and is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India, vide its approval letter Number. SBM/Mum/RP/009
Indonesia: PT Instarem Mitra Indonesia (License No. 21/261/Jkt/1) is regulated by Bank Indonesia.
Japan: Nium Japan Kabushiki Kaisha (formerly known as Instarem Japan Kabushiki Kaisha) (registration no: Kanto Local Finance Bureau no. 00073) is a Funds Transfer Services Provider registered with the Prime Minister under the Payment Services Act (Act No. 59 of June 24, 2009).
Lithuania (with full EU passporting rights): UAB NIUM EU (formerly known as UAB Instarem EU) (License No. 14) is regulated by Lietuvos Bankas (Bank of Lithuania)
Malaysia: NIUM SDN. BHD. (formerly known as Instarem Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.) Registration No. 201701000367 (1214517-X) is regulated in Malaysia by Central Bank of Malaysia under MY License Serial Number 00222.
Singapore: NIUM Pte. Ltd. (formerly known as Instarem Pte. Limited) is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a major payment institution under License No. PS20200276.
United States of America: NIUM, Inc. (formerly known as Instarem USA Corporation), operates in the United States under a program sponsored by Community Federal Savings Bank, to which NIUM is a service provider (NMLS ID No. 1528562).
UK: NIUM FINTECH LIMITED (formerly known as Instarem Limited), Reference number 901024, is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as an Authorised Electronic Money Institution (EMI) provider and is licensed to issue electronic money (e-money) and provide payment services.
Instarem has won a number of awards (the majority in Asia) for Fintech innovation, including:
- Winner, Singapore Fintech Award – Singapore Fintech Festival, 2017, Singapore
- Winner, FinTech Rising Star Award – India FinTech Awards, 2017, Mumbai
- Winner, Outstanding Digital Cross-Border Money Transfer Service – ET Net FinTech Awards, 2017, Hong Kong
- Winner, Blockchain Innovator Award – Swell by Ripple, 2018, San Francisco
- Finalist, Excellence in Payments – Fintech Australia 2018
- Winner, Best Value International Money Transfer Provider Award – Mozo Experts Choice, Australia 2020
Despite being a relative newcomer, Instarem, now powered by NIUM, has enjoyed tremendous growth through its young history. After gaining its first MSB license in Australia, it wasn’t long for the firm to soon expand into Canada and the US. More recently Instarem launched in a number of Asian markets and the UK & Europe. In total, the firm is regulated by nine of the leading regulatory bodies around the world, including arguably the world-leading FCA in the UK. As a result of this, we feel confident in saying Instarem is a safe and secure option for money transfers.
The idea of offering a transparent variable fee rather than charging an unpublished and unknown FX spread shows Instarem is operating in the market with the right intentions too. The fee, which ranges from 0.25% – 1% depending on the currencies being exchanged, is similar to the business model of Wise.
With hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from well-known VC firms, a valuation of over $1bn and partnerships with a number of leading financial institutions (including Visa and Ripple) this further goes to cement the credibility of the firm.
Instarem Customer Reviews
There are quite an impressive number of Instarem Reviews on TrustPilot, particularly given the relatively young age of the company. With over 5,800 this is more than many of the niche UK currency brokers that have been on the foreign exchange scene for an awfully long time. However, it’s still trailing the likes of Currencies Direct and Moneycorp who top the FX broker space, and is some way behind the remittance providers such as Azimo, WorldRemit (who enjoy 50,00+ reviews each) and Wise (who has accumulated over 125,000!). And it’s the remittance space where Instarem, the private facing arm of Nium, is largely targeting.
The firm bags a 4.4 / 5 TrustScore on TrustPilot, which is not bad for the money transfer industry, but not as high as the market leaders TorFX and Currency Solutions who both enjoy a 4.9 / 5 score for their excellent service.
Including those that rated the service as average, 91% of Instarem reviews found on TrustPilot are from users who are content with the level of service provided. Positive themes that continue to pop up are:
- Payments to India are very fast, often completing within minutes
- Good customer support over email
- Wide number of settlement options
- The online platform is easy-to-use and no difficulties in setting up payments
- Good rates on most currencies (with exception of USD)
9% of the Instarem reviews rate the service as negative, so at almost 1 in 10 users, we do consider this to be quite high. Although, we do have to bear in mind a user who had a poor experience is more likely to leave a review than a user who made a payment just fine. Negative themes to appear in the bad Instarem reviews include:
- No method to call Instarem if something goes wrong with a payment (customer support online-only)
- Account verification sometimes slow
- Dollar conversion rates not the best
- Transfers from the US delayed
It’s not uncommon for remittance-focused services to have online-only customer support, it’s one of the ways that these companies can provide lower fees due to cutting down on their own overheads. Perhaps the most common theme is that account opening and transfers can often be delayed due to more paperwork being requested. Whilst this can be particularly frustrating when trying to send money to yourself or a loved one quickly, it certainly isn’t uncommon in the industry. It shows us Instarem is enforcing its compliance and financial crime procedures.
The reason for a delay in transfers from the US appears to relate to the fact the payments have been settled by ACH transfer, which can take up to 3 days to complete. This is a result of the US-operated ACH network and has nothing to do with Instarem.
Over 5,800 reviews is quite an impressive figure given the age of the company. Over 5,000 reviewers were extremely positive about many facets of the company, notably the ease of the online platform and the timely execution of transfers. Payments to India seem to be particularly fast and is a currency corridor Instarem has been used to handling ever since it gained its first MSB license in Australia in 2015.
That being said, almost 1 in 10 reviewers rated their experience with Instarem as either ‘poor’ or ‘bad’. There’s not much Instarem can do about slow ACH transfers from the US – customers should look to use an alternative settlement method when making payments from here if they need faster delivery. It would of course be preferred for Instarem to provide a contact number for telephone support but it’s not uncommon for digital-only services to offer digital-only customer support. If you’re moving sums regularly or as a business, then it might prove more beneficial to work with a specialist currency broker, where clients will be assigned a dedicated account manager for placing trades and resolving any payment issues.
Instarem Exchange Rates & Fees
Fees: There are no fixed payment fees when settling payments via bank transfer. A £2 fee is charged for settling payments with a debit card.
Exchange Rates: Like Transferwise and Currencyfair, Instarem prices its currency exchange with a published variable fee, meaning the client achieves the interbank exchange rate, i.e. the rate banks trade currencies with each other. Instarem then clearly displays its variable fee (ranging from 0.25% to 1% of the total transfer amount) and deducts this from the amount received.
Limits: Limits are quite complicated as they vary from one country to the next. Instarem helpfully publishes whether the limit is imposed by themselves or the regulator in the country. Whilst you’re unable to avoid regulatory limits there are plenty of providers who have large liquidity pools and do not implement any self-imposed payment limits – like moneycorp for example. A full breakdown of Instarem’s payment limits is as follows:
|Country||Min Transfer – Same Currency||Min Transfer – Other Currency||Max Transfer||Comment|
|– Individual||AU$1||N/A||N/A||(Instarem Limits)|
|– Individual||SG$100||USD 50||N/A||(Instarem Limits)|
|– Business||SG$200||USD 50||N/A|
|– Individual||HK$1000||USD 50||N/A||(Instarem Limits)|
|– Business||HK$1000||USD 50||N/A|
|– Individual||MYR 200||USD 50||RM30,000||(Regulatory Limits)|
|– Business to Consumer||MYR 200||USD 50|
RM30,000 per transaction via FPX.
No limit if funded via bank transfer.
|– Business to Business||MYR 200||USD 50|
Max. Daily Limit:
Bank Transfer: RM5,950,000
Per Transaction Limit
RM1,000,000 per transaction via FPX.
No limit if funded via bank transfer.
|– Individual||INR 4000||N/A||USD 5,000 equivalent (Per Transaction)||(Regulatory Limits)|
|– Individual||EUR 200||N/A||N/A||(Instarem Limits)|
|– Business||EUR 200||N/A||N/A|
|– Individual||GBP 200||EUR 200||N/A||(Instarem Limits)|
|– Business||GBP 200||EUR 200||N/A|
Bank Transfer – N/A
ACH -1500 USD per transaction
3000 USD per 30-days
Mexico: Max per transaction is USD 1000
For higher amounts, use Bank Transfer
|– Individual||CAD 50||N/A|
INERAC e-Transfer limits –
3000 CAD per day
10,000 CAD per week
20,000 CAD per month
No fees for payments settled via bank transfers is certainly welcome. This is the same policy you’ll see from the best money transfer companies on the market today and significantly better than the excessive payment fees charged by banks which can range from £10 – £25. A £2 fee for card payments is reasonable and around the industry average.
A variable payment fee of 0.25% – 1% is much better than the banks too who normally charge around 2.5% – 4% of the total transaction value. Instarem CEO, Prajit Nanu, has been on the record stating that the average spread is around 0.5% which is very similar to transfers with Wise. Given they have a highly comparable, online-only platform it makes perfect sense.
Instarem adheres to regulatory limits in Malaysia and India when it comes to the maximum payment amount that can be sent and sets some of its own upper payment limits in the US & Canada. If this is prohibitive, users will want to consider OFX who has a presence in both locales and no upper payment limits. There are some self-imposed limits on the minimum amount that can be sent when the payment is in the same currency and this makes sense – the firm makes money on international payments so is unlikely to want to process too many same-currency transfers.
Instarem Money Transfer Offices & Global Presence
- Dedicated Dealer: No, online-only
- Offices: UK, Lithuania, Canada, USA, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Australia
- Ways to approach: Email or online chat support.
- Translations: English-only
- Accepts clients: From UK, Europe, Canada, USA (some states), India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Australia
- Currencies Handled: 24
Instarem’s primary focus has been on growth in the Asian markets and their registration capabilities and international offices are closely aligned to this strategy. There are a handful of well-known money transfer companies with a presence where Instarem is headquartered in Singapore but many less in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Hong Kong. Since WorldFirst closed its private business, individuals with money transfer requirements in Japan and Hong Kong who were using WorldFirst may benefit from Instarem’s services.
The offering in terms of payments is rather limited as just spot transfers are available but again this is exactly what we see with other remittance-focused companies. There is no hedging functionality whatsoever, so tools such as forward contracts are not available. The website is only available in English and 24 currencies is amongst one of the smallest currency selections we’ve reviewed. The likes of Global Reach offer over 100 for example.
- Digital multi currency bank accounts
- Debit card available in some countries
- App for both Android & Apple
- Pay to debit cards with Visa connect
- Faster processing on RippleNet platform
The app has a limited number of reviews on the App store, with just 111, netting the firm a 3.7 / 5 score. On Google Play the firm has a much higher number of reviews – 5,526 – rating the Instarem app at 4.0 / 5.
- Registration / onboarding capabilities
- Faster transactions with Debit Card Transfers
- Message centre for latest news and promos.
- Quick Send to send money quickly to saved beneficiaries.
- View transfer history
- Dark Mode theme
A very standard offering that you would expect with an online-only remittance company. Very similar to other online money transfer companies such as Wise, and significantly less in terms of payment options than that offered by specialist currency brokers such as Global Reach & Currencies Direct. All the basics are there for Instarem, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The multicurrency account is certainly smart functionality but with it having very limited advertising from Instarem itself (most information is available on the NIUM website) it would suggest to us the product is not fully established yet for individuals and SMEs. It certainly seems behind the functionality of Wise (individuals) and WorldFirst (SMEs) who both have a significant network of international accounts that are held local to the country they represent, i.e. HKD in Hong Kong, USD in the USA and AUD in Australia.
Instarem Review Summary
- Credibility Score - 90%90%
- Client Feedback - 90%90%
- Fees, Exchange Rates - 83%83%
- Global Reach, Availability, Service - 70%70%
- Added Values - 80%80%
Instarem has enjoyed tremendous growth and won a number of awards in its relatively limited history. For individuals seeking low-cost and easy online transfers from Asia, Instarem looks a very sound option. Its payment capabilities to India seem particularly impressive, with many users reporting that payments are completed in minutes. Instarem is available in the UK and Europe but individuals based here may prefer the slightly stronger brands in that part of the world of Currencyfair and Wise.
With Instarem being part of the NIUM family it would appear a major focus of the group is expanding the payment capabilities of NIUM and its offering to financial institutions, online marketplaces and travel companies. That’s not to say Instarem’s offering to individuals and SMEs will be left behind but the online-only platform simply remains plain and does the basics well.