While many bank report a year-over-year increase in revenues that are occasioned by international money transfers, this service delivery remains subpar in African countries like Ethiopia. A report by All Africa shows 70% of total remittances are done via informal channels, e.g. Hawala.
Most of the monies transferred via informal channels are not accounted for, which poses a risk of foreign currency shortage in the country. Freelancers are notorious for using these channels to reduce the high costs associated with formal money transfer to Ethiopia.
If working with different international clients, they are charged per payment per client, making the cumulative cost eat into their profits. Freelancers opting for these channels also cite reasons like the many regulatory barriers associated with sending money to Ethiopia using formal channels.
For example, undocumented migrants need to be documented first to make money transfers to Ethiopia using formal channels. We look at other challenges users face when you want to send money to Ethiopia online.
Other Challenges for Sending Money to Ethiopia
Long Delivery Time
The delivery times vary based on the transfer channel used. Payments done via debit cards, for example, may have a short delivery time though more expensive than other transfer methods.
To avoid the long processing time, freelancers send money through MoneyGram and Western Union, which takes a few minutes. Knowing your options in terms of cost, available providers and delivery speed allows you to choose the best method.
Failure to Convert Foreign Currency First
When making international transfers, it is essential to convert the money on your end before sending it to the recipient. Failure to convert the funds may cause the foreign bank to reject the transaction or charge a high conversion fee. As such, the recipient may receive fewer monies than expected or experience delays.
Money transfer operators allow users to transfer small amounts of cash. Interbank systems, on the other hand, allow users to transfer large sums of money, but most governments enforce strict regulations for such transactions to go through. The bank is required to verify the customer’s whereabouts, which increases the waiting time and violates the user’s privacy.
Need to Create an Account with Local Banks
Many Money Transfer operators don’t set up independent networks in some countries. Instead, they partner with local banks to meet the needs of their customers. As such, freelancers are compelled to open accounts with the respective banks to access the MTO services. Such partnerships only add to the end-user’s expenses hence, the high transaction costs.
How to Send Money from Ethiopia to USA
The most suitable channel for remitting money depends on your situation. Are you sending a large sum of money at the least rate or sending a few Birrs to a client? Consider these factors when choosing how to send money to Ethiopia:
• The current exchange rate
• The amount of cash you are sending
• Whether it is a recurring or one-off transfer
• The country you are sending to
• The origin of your funds (digital wallet, credit card, bank account or bitcoin)
Western Union Ethiopia
It remains the most popular money transfer operator. MTOs are companies with agencies that specialise in moving money on behalf of clients between countries. They are effective forms for users who want to move money fast, and if the recipient does not have an online payment account.
It has more than 4,000 locations across the globe, including Ethiopia. Western Union Ethiopia allows users to remit funds through a website, online banking, mobile or an agency. The money is sent directly to the recipient’s bank account, or he can opt to visit a Western Union agent to collect his or her money.
Western Union is ideal for freelancers who want to send cash fast. It offers a range of delivery options, including same-day speed and next-day speed. The fee varies and is based on the Ethiopian exchange rate and whether you are sending the money to the recipient’s bank account or a Western Union pick-up location.
The cost of making remittance in Ethiopia via Western Union agency ranges from 288.47 to 2884.65 Birr but the cost of sending the money to the recipient’s bank account is lower as it ranges from 346.16 to 1153.86 Birr. You can use the estimate calculator on the website to determine the amount of money to send in Ethiopian currency.
The registration process is easy. The user may visit one of Majid Al Futtaim locations for a face to face verification or register online by filling in the registration form. A one-time password is sent, and you may be required to upload your Emirates ID (this is optional). When your profile is submitted, verify your identity at one of the Majid Al Futtaim locations.
How to Send Money from Ethiopia to USA with Western Union:
• Visit the Western Union website and log in to your profile
• Choose the amount, country and mode of delivery
• Type the receiver’s name
• Make payment
• A confirmation is sent by SMS or email. Be sure to save the tracking number (MCTN) with the recipient
The service is similar to Western Union as freelancers can use it to send funds to any location around the world. Moneygram has more than 300,000 pick-up locations, and users can transfer funds to the recipient’s bank account, Moneygram agency or mobile wallet.
The service is ideal in emergencies or when the recipient wants actual cash instead of money transferred to his account. The fee for sending money via Moneygram Ethiopia is lower than that charged by Western Union. It still varies based on the exchange rate of the recipient country (in this case, the US).
Freelancers can make remittance in Ethiopia at any MoneyGram agency. The remittances are received and sent from any Buna Bank branch in the country. To receive cash, the customer needs to visit the branch, provide personal identification details and his or her reference number.
The user also needs to fill in a receiver form at the location and hand it to the bank teller to receive the cash. Once the details are verified, you will earn money in a local currency, i.e., Ethiopian Birr.
Mobile Money Ethiopia
While money transfer operators offer a great deal of convenience to users, the emergence of mobile money solutions provides even greater ease of making payment. Smartphones have become ubiquitous and many people around the world own more than one mobile device. A range of mobile money solutions has been developed as a result. Here’s a brief:
WorldRemit is a UK-based, mobile-first technology company that was established in 2016. It allows users to send money from their mobile devices instead of visiting a money transfer agency. Since its launch, the company has connected to 34 mobile money wallets in 26 countries, including Ethiopia.
WorldRemit Ethiopia partnered with the United Bank of Ethiopia to allow freelancers to make instant money transfers to 214 pick-up locations in the country. The partnership also will enable people living in more than 50 countries, including the US, Canada and the United Kingdom to send money to Ethiopia instantly.
At the beginning of 2019, it partnered with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia to enable the bank to cater to its ever-growing international clientele. The partnership allowed money senders to spread to more than 50 countries, most of which are Ethiopian Diaspora. Other Ethiopian banks that have partnered with WorldRemit include Wegagen Bank, Awash Bank, Enat Bank and Bunna Bank.
WorldRemit also launched a mobile application that led to a 138% growth in mobile transfer volumes. The application is available on App Store and Google Play. To send money to Ethiopia online via WorldRemit app, the process is pretty straightforward. Here are a few steps:
• Visit WorldRemit website and choose the country you want to send to
• Choose WorldRemit Wallet as your preferred mode of payment
• Choose the currency account type you are paying in, i.e., Ethiopian currency if sending to Ethiopia or US dollars if sending cash to the US
• Choose the amount you want to send; the exchange rate and fee is indicated
• Enter the recipient’s details, including his mobile number (it also acts as his WorldRemit Wallet Number)
• Pay for the transfer
Withdrawing Money from WorldRemit
Now that you know how to send money to Ethiopia via WorldRemit, it is essential to get acquainted with the withdrawal procedure. Users can withdraw cash through a local bank account, mobile money account or collect it from a pick-up location. To withdraw:
• Open the WorldRemit app and choose your preferred currency account files you want to withdraw from
• Click on Transfer and choose withdraw along with the preferred payout channel. The options include collecting the funds from a pick-up point, a mobile money account or transferring the cash to the bank account.
• Choose the amount you need to withdraw and cash out
• An SMS is sent as soon as the money is delivered to your mobile money account, the collection point or bank account