WorldFirst has not accepted private clients since February 2021. View popular WorldFirst alternatives here.
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WorldFirst Review: Executive Summary
This review of World First money transfer service, AKA WorldFirst UK limited, will explain the ins and outs of the company. From World First FX margins, how safe it is to use World First, how do you make transfers or payments with World First through telephone, email, online system or app, to what World First client reviews tell about user satisfaction.
WorldFirst no Longer Accepting Private or US-based Clients:
Following a 2020 announcement, WorldFirst stopped accepting private clients. Existing private clients of WorldFirst were able to make international transfers with WorldFirst until April 2021 but were forbidden to set up a forward contract beyond this date. We recommend our readers to learn about the best international money transfer companies for individuals in UK/EU, best international money transfer for USA as well as the best-rated currency brokers. Have a look below at the leading alternatives on the market:
Best WorldFirst Alternatives
- Min Transfer: £/€/$ 100
- Currencies Supported: 39
- Offices : UK, EU, USA, India, South Africa.
- Our Rating : 97.8%
- Most Global Offices and Reach
No Fees from Anywhere and Competitive Rates
96% Client Satisfaction
- Min Transfer: £/€ 100
- Currencies Supported: 40
- Offices : UK, EU, Singapore, and Australia.
- Our Rating : 93.4%
- High Quality Bespoke Service
MoneyFact's Best Provider Award
Over 100 Years of FX Experience Across Its Trading Desk
- Min Transfer: £/€/$ 50
- Currencies Supported: 120
- Offices : UK, EU, Australia, USA, HK, UAE, and South America.
- Our Rating : 92.8%
- Business Oriented, Many High Profile Business Customers
Industry Veteran since 1979
Diverse Hedging Options and Excellent Guidance
Is World First Safe and Reliable?
WorldFirst Limited, registered and headquartered in the UK, is a market leading and award winning foreign exchange company. It offers currency exchange and international payments only to corporate clients, with a particular focus on ecommerce businesses selling their goods overseas. Since its establishment in 2004, the company has grown rapidly and today has offices across four continents, employing more than 600 people.
WorldFirst is ranked among 2022’s top UK international money transfer companies in the UK in terms of revenue and has helped nearly 1,000,000 global customers with their international transfers. Each year WorldFirst makes millions of transfers for its unanimously happy client base.
Like most currency brokers, WorldFirst money transfer never speculates on the currency markets. When a client enters into a transaction with WorldFirst, they will then enter into a matching covering deal with their banking partners. Thus turning your sold currency into your bought currency and from which the onward payment is made.
The two main transaction banks for World First are Barclays and Citibank – two of the most recognised and safest international banks around the globe.
WorldFirst is highly transparent in its financial performance and what it does to protect client money.
Since the firm’s acquisition by Alipay, little has been won by way of awards for WorldFirst and nor does it appear they have even entered any competitions. This is a marked contrast to the multitude of awards WorldFirst won throughout its growth journey.
Such rapid growth won the company an inclusion in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 in 2011, and earned it a position in the top 100 Sunday Times FastTrack companies in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – more than any other financial services provider in the UK.
In addition to that, it has won several prestigious awards, such as the UK Customer Experience Awards in 2013, and the UK National Business Award in 2011.
In April 2016, WorldFirst Payments was announced as the winner of the Queen’s Award for International Trade, one of the most lucrative and prestigious awards in the UK.
On June 21, 2017, WorldFirst (including WorldFirst UK and WorldFirst Australia) changed its logo and overall website appearance towards a more colourful and less simplistic design than before. This rebranding process also included a lot more focus on a specific segment – online sellers, which has proved itself as a highly commercially viable direction for the company.. During the year to follow, the company also entered into an internal reorganisation process to better adjust itself for its new future.
In January of 2019, as part of its reorganisation process, WorldFirst decided to stop taking on US based clients and shut down its entire US operation. Days later, it was discovered that WorldFirst had been bought by Ant Financial, the Chinese conglomerate behind AliPay and AliBaba, for a consideration of USD $700m.
At the time, it was reported by articles in the media that WorldFirst USA would reopen in the future under a new name and would be a separate business named Omega Money Transfers with no relationship to Ant Financial’s WorldFirst. The move never materialised and a number of Amazon sellers from the US were caught up in the US-China trade spat.
On July 23, 2019, WorldFirst announced they were shifting to a more transparent and more understandable pricing model that would compete directly with Wise’s rates for SME clients and would be cheaper for clients sending significant volumes overseas. The move, which appeared to be a direct result of the acquisition by Alipay, has since been reversed in 2022.
To us, it’s not wholly unsurprising that WorldFirst reversed its decision as the firm has always provided much more value to its clients than Wise. Wise specialises in purely online spot transfers, whereas WorldFirst provides this functionality and much more. WorldFirst can also provide business customers with dedicated account management and a range of currency hedging tools that enable businesses to better manage currency risk. Its multi-currency account solution is also operated in tandem with more trustworthy and respected banking partners.
Still, the move has no doubt aggravated a number of existing clients and WorldFirst will want to hold steady on its new pricing strategy, which, according to WF FAQs, is “competitive”.
On 10th February 2021, WorldFirst sent a service termination email to all private clients notifying them of account closures on 21st April 2021, with online access being removed after 10th April.
Over the last decade, WorldFirst has been one of the fastest-growing businesses in the UK, as supported by its position in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 from 2015-2017. In recent years, the growth of the firm has slowed but WorldFirst remains one of the largest and most trustworthy money transfer companies in the country, handing over a million international payments each and every year.
WorldFirst UK Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority as an Electronic Money Institution under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011. The company is also regulated in the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. It was acquired by Ant Group in 2019, operator of Alipay, one of the largest mobile payment platforms in the world. Almost 1,000,000 businesses have sent £125bn around the world with WorldFirst since 2004.
Do Clients Like WorldFirst? Reviews From Across the Web
Prior to their switch from the review platform Feefo to TrustPilot, there were over 7,100 WorldFirst client reviews on Feefo, rating the company 98/100. Despite the fact Feefo remains one of the most credible user review companies on the planet, TrustPilot seems to have become the go-to review platform for consumers and businesses alike.
WorldFirst now has over 2,000 reviews on TrustPilot – rated as excellent with a score of 4.3 / 5, down on the 4.7 / 5 score the firm enjoyed in 2020.
It’s a shame WorldFirst have lost all of their previous client reviews from Feefo since migrating to TrustPilot but having monitored the company closely over many years we can attest to their excellent previous reviews. In its time with Feefo, WorldFirst was regularly granted the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award so it’s no surprise WorldFirst is already rated in the best possible category on TrustPilot.
There are approximately 200 WorldFirst reviews to be found on ReviewCentre, another of the largest client review engines. World First had 96% positive reviews on Feefo, TrustPilot and ReviewCentre, combined.
All three websites show a myriad of client reviews relating to customers across the globe. As such, we assume that while the majority of reviews come from the UK, where Worldfirst has its biggest client base, they also include WorldFirst Australia reviews and WorldFirst Singapore reviews.
Below is a genuine, verified, comment by a client we have referred to them:
Very good, speedy service. Staff I spoke with regarding opening the account were very friendly & knowledgeable. Setting up the transaction, beneficiary etc., was simple and straightforward, and the money arrived in the beneficiary’s account very quickly. To top it all, total transaction was £60 cheaper than my bank!
In general, clients are positive about the services provided to them by WorldFirst online and over the telephone. The firm is regularly praised for being reliable, trustworthy and efficient. And despite a recent increase in pricing, customers still feel like they’re getting good value for money and praise WorldFirst for providing excellent exchange rates, even after the price increase kicked in.
Despite this, there has been a recent uptick in complaints. Virtually every complaint left in 2022 appears to relate to WorldFirst requesting supporting documentation in order to process a payment, or delaying/refusing to make a payment for compliance purposes. As a regulated institution, WorldFirst is required to adhere to strict anti-money laundering laws, just like other regulated foreign exchange firms. For most customers, this should not impact them at all, but businesses operating in high-risk countries or high-risk industries should expect a greater level of due diligence. These companies may want to consider trying two or three different payment providers and should find that once repeat payments are going to the same beneficiary, some of the documentation requirements ease over time.
A small number of customers complained about slow transfers but transactions can also be slow to reach specific countries, regardless of which company you choose. In virtually all countries worldwide, banks do not handle incoming international transactions during bank holidays and weekends.
Overall, we can see that the vast majority of business clients are satisfied with the service provided by WorldFirst.
World First’s Exchange Rate & Fees
Fees: Corporate clients will have to agree on their payment fee structure with WorldFirst at the onset of their account. Though payment fees will certainly be cheaper than payment fees with a bank.
Exchange Rates: WorldFirst simply explains in their FAQs that they “offer easy and secure international business payments with competitive pricing”. WorldFirst has reverted to a traditional pricing model for currency brokers. The larger the amount transferred, the better the rate a client will receive. Using the WorldFirst online platform means that the exchange rate will be fixed. This should represent significant savings compared to banks and will hover around the same margins offered on other online money transfer platforms. When transferring a large sum (£25,000+) you may be able to negotiate a better rate over the phone.
Limits: As of 2022), there are no minimum transfer limits and given WorldFirst’s size and acces to liquidity, there is no upper cap on how much you can send either. WorldFirst handles a variety of business clients and online merchants and can assist them with transferring hundreds, thousands or millions of pounds per transfer.
There are no minimum or maximum transfer limits of any kind with WorldFirst and businesses transferring over £5,000 with WorldFirst will have access to a dedicated account manager. So businesses of all size will find a solution that works for them. Transferring money with WorldFirst online is smooth and easy, and should clients encounter any issues, WorldFirst customer support is praised for being easily accessible and highly professional. Dedicated dealers can provide guidance relating to the transfer, including details on the range of currency hedging tools the firm offers and share WorldFirst’s currency outlook for the future.
Exchange rate margins are no longer fixed and businesses who send larger volumes will find they achieve a lower exchange rate spread than those making smaller payments. Since bringing an end to its fixed margin policy, some customers have criticised WorldFirst for being more expensive, whilst many other customers still feel the exchange rates offered are excellent. From our perspective, we were surprised WorldFirst ever decided on a fixed-margin policy given the added-value activities they offer and we couldn’t see how this business model would be sustainable. The rates still appear to be good, all-be-it not as cheap as purely online providers like Wise and CurrencyFair. The model now adopted by WorldFirst is perfectly fine – it’s what some of the leading currency brokers like moneycorp and Currencies Direct also operate – we just feel it was a bit of an own goal for the firm to ever try a fixed margin approach.
Global Reach & Service
Furthermore, as a WorldFirst corporate client you are able to open collection bank accounts overseas for online sellers in GBP, EUR, USD, CAD, AUD, NZD, CNH, SGD, HKD & JPY.
Ways to Contact: Email, toll-free telephone number, call-back form, and meetings in worldwide offices.
Translations: World First is available in several languages, including; English, Dutch, French, German, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese.
Accepts Clients: Generally speaking, globally, bar the USA.
Currencies Handled: Over 130.
Client Reviews: Often praise the quality of support and dedicated dealer functionality. Corporate clients only (including ecommerce).
With a dedicated dealing team that consists of knowledgeable dealers worldwide and offices in 5 continents (including most recently the Netherlands and Japan), service and global reach for corporate clients can’t get much better than this. The only major drawback is that WorldFirst stopped accepting US-based clients in January 2019. For business customers in the US, we strongly recommend OFX (local support from an office in San Francisco) and moneycorp – our no.1 rated provider for business FX and accepting clients from the majority of US states.
WorldFirst Foreign Exchange deals with more currencies than any other company we have compared it to and has more local country translations than 99% of its competitors. It has dedicated support centres in each continent in which it operates, makingservice much more localised than with most foreign exchange companies. It is also worth mentioning that the sign-up process takes less than 60 seconds, while most competitors retain perplexing and complex sign-up forms.
When it comes to global reach and service, WorldFirst FX is among the top 10 money transfer companies for business customers. With such an extensive setup of banking partners across the world, the majority of customers can settle their trades with a local transfer, avoiding expensive SWIFT fees.
Where possible, WorldFirst will also rely on its own payments infrastructure to process international transfers, thus avoiding recipient bank and intermediary bank fees, which is another invaluable asset. Here is how this works:
- Market Orders
- Limit Orders
- Rate Watch
- Forward Contract
- Regular Transfers
- Multi-Currency Accounts
- Xero Integration
- Payments to China
Forward contracts, firm orders and rate watch functionality, alongside a team of experienced and professional dealers, makes WorldFirst one of the best companies for hedging currency exposure. Clients can also set up regular transfers which can be particularly helpful for businesses with a requirement to repeatedly make the same transaction, such as paying an overseas salary. There’s even the option to fix each of the regular transfers with a forward contract to know exactly how much will have to be paid. Alternatively, it’s possible just to agree to pay the rate on the day the transfer is scheduled to take place. Uniquely, WorldFirst offers the capability to book forward contracts for up to 3 years in advance, this is significantly longer than the standard 12 months offered by many other firms.
WorldFirst World Account:
In May of 2017, WorldFirst launched the World Account, one of the best corporate FX features we have seen in the currency transfer industry to date. Enabling small businesses to open bank accounts across the globe and receive, hold, convert and pay money globally. This includes 10 local currency accounts, allowing businesses to make and receive domestic payments to do business like a local.
Local bank account details are possible in GBP, EUR, USD, CAD, AUD, NZD, CNH, SGD, HKD & JPY.
In March of 2019, after being sold to AliPAy, the company announced the buying of CurrencyVue, an Integrated FX Exposure Platform. With an increasing number of SMEs looking to Quickbooks or Xero for its accounting solutions, the move will allow WorldFirst to better integrate with these and other Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Ensuring WorldFirst continues to lead the way in the online experience it offers its client base.
WorldFirst money transfer is one of the few FX companies that help merchants receive payments by setting up local bank accounts for them in a number of major ecommerce destinations (since May 2017 it is available to all corporate clients). This is an area that is highly complex and one that most companies would rather avoid, but WorldFirst makes it happen and reduces costs and overheads in the process.
E-Commerce is a growing segment for WorldFirst, and we have covered the ins and outs of it on our Online Seller Account page. As the longest running money transfer firm in the ecommerce space, it is also compatible with the greatest number of marketplaces (100+). These include, but are not limited to, Amazon, Etsy and AliExpress. You can often find online marketplaces offering introductory terms to attract WorldFirst ecommerce clients onto their platform too.
WorldFirst has one of the top ranked money transfer apps. Unlike most companies, which either don’t have an app at all or have apps that can only watch rates, the WorldFirst mobile app lets you actually make transactions on your mobile phone. So whether you’re a business owner, treasurer or finance director on the move, WorldFirst has you covered.
The app can be found on the App Store, Google Play and can even be used on Smart Watches (perhaps the only app in the industry that is suitable for these devices).
This is another strong point of WorldFirst. Despite a rapidly growing number of financial services that allow businesses to open digital bank accounts around the globe, WorldFirst was the original. Its World Account is offered in partnership with top-tier banks and the firm enjoys strong relationships with all of the leading global online marketplaces. Its accounts are truly local and make international trade much easier – many of WorldFirst’s competitors offer multi-currency accounts but the accounts are often held in the UK (thus still involving international transfers to other countries).
Its hedging options are also more sophisticated than usual – products such as flexible forwards are hard to find and in providing forward contracts up to three years in advance, this offers a greater degree of flexibility than is possible with any other prodiver on the market today.
- Credibility Score - 98%98%
- Client Feedback Score - 95%95%
- Fees, Exchange Rates Score - 92%92%
- Global Reach, Availability, Service Score - 96%96%
- Added Values Score - 98%98%
WorldFirst Review Summary
In our opinion, WorldFirst provides one of the best money transfer services in the world for business and ecommerce clients alike. It was the very first non-banking financial institution to offer multi-currency accounts and whilst it has invested heavily in its tech capabilities, it continues to operate a highly professional team of currency dealers and support staff that are always available on the phone. Clients tend to agree with us and WorldFirst is regularly praised for being one of the few companies these days where customers can still speak to a real human within a few short rings.
The only regret is that WorldFirst’s acquisition which has lead to a lot of its expert staff to leave, and the fact it has stopped its U.S operations, as well as stopped accepting private customers as of Feb 2021. We are monitoring customer reviews closely to see if WorldFirst continues to be liked by them.