New Zealand’s vibrant economy, diverse population, and strategic position in the Pacific have transformed it into a significant hub for international money transfers. This article delves deep into the landscape of money transfer services in New Zealand, from traditional banks like Kiwibank and ANZ to innovative non-bank providers. We aim to provide a comprehensive view of why New Zealand is a preferred destination for money transfer services, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of various providers in the country.
New Zealand’s Emergence as an International Money Transfer Hub
As a pivotal player in the global money transfer sector, New Zealand has gradually solidified its position over the years. The primary factors driving this momentum include the financial sophistication of New Zealand citizens, the substantial expat community, the significant number of New Zealanders living overseas, and strong international trade ties, especially with the United Kingdom. New Zealand’s role is analogous to that of Australia, which holds the title of the second-largest international money transfer hub globally.
Known for their keen financial sense, Kiwis have displayed an inclination towards exploring options outside traditional banking institutions for their international monetary transactions. This quest for superior value propositions has triggered a remarkable growth spurt among non-bank providers, who have responded by offering competitive rates coupled with efficient services.
Moreover, a significant number of New Zealanders live overseas, a fact that necessitates frequent money transfers to and from their home country. The World Bank estimates that as of 2023, approximately one million New Zealand-born people live overseas, a majority in Australia and the UK, making these routes some of the busiest corridors for money transfer services.
In particular, the UK-New Zealand corridor is a hotbed of activity, fuelled by a considerable British expat community in New Zealand and vice versa. As per the 2018 New Zealand census, over 60,000 British-born people resided in New Zealand. On the other side, the Office for National Statistics UK estimates there were around 58,000 New Zealand-born residents in the UK in 2019. These populations regularly transfer money between the two countries, creating a demand for efficient and cost-effective money transfer services.
Adding to this momentum is the robust international trade relationship between New Zealand and other countries, especially the UK. In June 2022, the UK and New Zealand signed a free trade agreement, which is expected to boost bilateral trade between the two countries by about 60% or by more than $1 billion.
The combination of these factors—financially savvy citizens, a significant expat community, strong trade ties, and the demand for better rates—has led to an influx of money transfer companies vying for a piece of the New Zealand market. The seamless onboarding process, which caters to both Kiwis and expats, along with competitive rates, provides plenty of incentive individuals and SMEs to give these money transfer companies a try.
The Big Five Banks and Their Role in International Transfers
In the New Zealand financial sector, the ‘big five’—ANZ, BNZ, Westpac, Kiwibank and ASB—cast a long shadow. These banking behemoths control a significant portion of the market, as underscored by a thought-provoking article by The Spinoff which reveals that, despite the fintech revolution, these five banks still oversee the lion’s share of international transfers. Each of these institutions provide international money transfer services, but they’re associated with high fees and wide exchange rate margins
Let’s examine two of these banking titans—Kiwibank and ANZ—to gain a deeper understanding of their international money transfer services. According to our evaluation on May 15, 2023, Kiwibank’s foreign exchange margin hovers between approximately 1.67% and 1.79% for major currencies such as USD, EUR, AUD, and CAD. ANZ’s margins are in a similar ballpark, ranging from 1.65% to 1.77% for the same currencies.
While these rates may appear to be competitive at first glance, they are notably higher than the average margin offered by non-bank providers, which generally falls below 1%. This discrepancy can result in significant savings for individuals who regularly engage in international money transfers.
However, it’s not all rosy for these dominant banking institutions. Over the years, they have been subject to criticism for their high fees, lacklustre customer service, and lack of transparency. In fact, a 2019 report from the New Zealand Commerce Commission raised concerns about the lack of competition in the banking sector, noting that the ‘big five’ banks held more than 90% of total banking assets.
Moreover, the report pointed out that these banks’ profitability was higher than banks in other countries, indicating a high mark-up on their services, including international money transfers. Consumer NZ is backing calls for an updated Commerce Commission inquiry into bank profits and competition in 2023, noting that whilst bank profitability remains high, innovation is low.
Therefore, as the financial landscape continues to evolve, the ‘big five’ will need to adapt and innovate to maintain their dominant positions. This includes offering more competitive rates and better customer service for international money transfers, which have become a significant part of modern financial transactions
Non-Bank Providers: The Emerging Force
While traditional banks hold a significant share of the international money transfer market, non-bank providers are gaining momentum due to their competitive rates and customer-centric features. These providers offer faster transfers, lower fees, and more competitive exchange rates, making them an attractive alternative for savvy consumers.
For instance, when compared to the ‘big five’ banks, non-bank providers such as Wise and Revolut offer more competitive rates and lower fees, making them a compelling option for consumers looking to get the most value out of their international transfers. Additionally, these providers have invested heavily in user-friendly platforms and high-quality customer service, further enhancing their appeal.
Choosing the Best International Money Transfer Service
Selecting the right money transfer service depends on a variety of factors including the transfer fees, exchange rates, transfer speed, service availability, and customer support. While traditional banks like ANZ and Kiwibank have an established presence and trust, they often have higher fees and less favourable exchange rates than non-bank providers. The most popular currency corridors used by customers who sidestep their banks are New Zealand to Australia transfers, New Zealand to USA, New Zealand to EU and New Zealand to UK (and the opposite routes).
Top 3 Companies for Transferring money from and to NZ:
- Offices in UK, EU and Australia - Deal with Many NZ Customers with Glowing Reviews (4.9/5 TrustPilot)
- Not Charging Fixed Fees Per Transfer ($0 Policy Online and By Telephone)
- Offering Bespoke Guidance for Payments and Hedging, When You Use TorFX Australia - You Deal With One Point of Contact
- Set Up Rate Alerts Easily to Know When Rates Improve
- Set Up Mass Payments Through Online System
- Excellent Corporate FX Department
- Australian Company with Offices in NZ (Previously Named NZForex in NZ)
- Traded Publicly, 20bn Turnover per Year
- Ultra Professional in What They Do - 20 Years of Experience
- Tight Margins and No Fees
- Very High Customer Satisfaction
- Best Website - Friendly and Transparent
- Easy to Sign Up and Trade
- Competitive Exchange Rates for Both Small and Large Transfers
- Very Friendly Staff
- Most Recognizable Brand in Money Transfers Today
- Offering a Foreign Currency Bank Account to Receive or Hold Money.
- Boast 1,000+ Employees and $4bn in Monthly Turnover
- Transparent Pricing on the Site
- Easy to Use, Great App
The “best international money transfer companies” stand out by providing competitive exchange rates, lower fees, fast and reliable transfers, user-friendly platforms and excellent customer service. For instance, non-bank providers such as Wise, Revolut, and OFX have emerged as strong contenders in the New Zealand market, often surpassing banks in terms of value and service quality when sending money from NZ to Australia.
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is known for its transparent pricing model and mid-market exchange rates, making it a cost-effective choice for many individuals and businesses. Revolut, on the other hand, offers a multi-currency account that allows users to hold, exchange, and transfer money in multiple currencies at competitive rates, making it an excellent choice for frequent travellers or businesses with international operations.
OFX is another popular choice, particularly for larger transfers, thanks to its customer-friendly tiered pricing structure where the margin decreases as the transfer amount increases. This could lead to substantial savings for those who need to make large international transfers.
Last Word: New Zealand Money Transfers
In conclusion, while New Zealand’s ‘big five’ banks still handle most international transfers, there’s a growing trend towards using non-bank providers due to their competitive rates, lower fees, and innovative services. As consumers become more financially savvy, the landscape of international money transfers in New Zealand is likely to continue evolving, with a greater emphasis on value, convenience, and customer service.
Remember, the exchange rates and margins mentioned in this article were calculated on May 15, 2023. Rates may vary, and it’s always a good idea to compare rates from different providers before making a transfer. Below, we’ve included a table of recommended providers, which can help guide you towards the best international money transfer service for your specific needs.