Oxfam and TransferWise to help British Indians escape £35m in bank fees this Diwali

Published: 1st November 2013

Britain’s Indian community lose an estimated £35m in banking fees when they send money home at Diwali*, Oxfam warned today.

As Diwali, the Festival of Light, draws nearer, thousands of British Indians will unwittingly pay hidden banking fees when they send money home. Banks and traditional money remitters often take as much as 4 percent of the money sent - even when they claim there are ‘no fees’. They do this using an unfair exchange rate. Oxfam has partnered with TransferWise to take a stand against this.

TransferWise is also using its platform to support Oxfam’s vital work in South Asia by allowing customers to donate part of the money they would have lost to banking fees to Oxfam. Some of the money raised will be used to help those affected by the recent cyclone and floods in India.

Oxfam GB's Chief Executive Mark Goldring said: "Oxfam understands the importance of sending money home for many in the UK Indian community. Many people will be thinking of those less fortunate during Diwali and will want to get money back home in an easy and affordable way. We are very excited that this unique partnership with TransferWise will help achieve this and save a great deal of money for people in the UK."

Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Oxfam to help stamp out hidden fees in international money transfer and alleviate poverty in South Asia. We hope to put millions back in Indians’ pockets - and raise millions for Oxfam’s incredible work while we’re at it!”

TransferWise uses technology developed by the people who built Skype and PayPal to cut out traditional banking fees altogether, giving customers access to the real mid-market exchange rate (that’s the rate published in the newspapers, not one invented by the banks). TransferWise charges just 0.5 percent to send money from Britain to India. It presents all its cost transparently before you make a transfer.

Many people will be thinking of those less fortunate during Diwali and will want to get money back home in an easy and affordable way.
Mark Goldring
Oxfam GB Chief Executive

Notes to editors

*According to The World Bank report The Remittance Market in India; Opportunities, Challenges and Policy Options by Gabi G. Afram, £3.76bn is sent from the UK to India every year at an average cost of 4 percent (p22, 32). Typically, a large chunk of this percent is hidden in the bank or remitters’ exchange rate (individual remitters’ costs are broken down and shown on the World Bank Remittance website here). Therefore, we can infer that a quarter of the £3.76bn transferred from Britain to India (£940m) is sent for Diwali, a festival of giving, and an estimated £35m is lost in banking fees when those transferring funds don’t use TransferWise. TransferWise charges just 0.5 percent, giving customers access to the real mid-market exchange rate.

About TransferWise

International money transfers are more expensive than meets the eye - even when banks and brokers claim there are ‘no fees’.  Many banks take as much as 5 percent of the money being sent. TransferWise is the clever new alternative that allows people to transfer money abroad at a lower cost than ever before. It uses technology developed by the people who built Skype and PayPal to remove all the fees the foreign exchange industry has kept hidden for decades. Customers have already moved more than £250m using the platform - an approach that has put over £10m back in their pockets.


TransferWise is fully regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA; formerly the FSA - Financial Services Authority). REF 571669

About Oxfam GB

Oxfam GB is a global humanitarian, development and campaigning organization working with others to overcome poverty.  From life-saving emergency response to life-changing development projects and campaigning for lasting change, Oxfam works in 94 countries as part of the Oxfam International confederation to tackle poverty at its roots.

Oxfam GB has one million supporters in the UK. For every £1 donated, 84p is spent on emergency, development and campaigning work, 9p is spent on support and governance and 7p is invested to generate future income. Oxfam has nearly 700 high street shops across the UK selling donated fashion, books, music, homewares and new ethical products.  It is supported by a workforce of 22,000 volunteers. Oxfam also launched the UK’s first online charity shop in 2007.

Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International, a global confederation of 17 independent Oxfams which share the same purpose.

More about Oxfam's work with TransferWise

Contact information

For more information about Oxfam’s work, please contact Jonaid Jilani on 01865 472 193 or 07810 181 514 or jjilani@oxfam.org.uk

For more information about TransferWise, please contact Donata Huggins on +447595051258, “donata.huggins” on Skype or donata@transferwise.com

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