OFX has a 30-year history and is one of the largest foreign exchange specialists in the world. It offers a “Global Currency Account” that allows online sellers to hold, send and receive funds in GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, CAD and HKD.
Multi-currency accounts enable sellers to invoice customers in their local currency, and with these accounts many of the costly, back-and-forth FX charges associated with cross-border trade can be avoided.
Though OFX clearly offers bank-beating FX costs, it is slightly more expensive than some other services in the market, particularly for more exotic currencies.
The Global Currency Account is designed for those selling at approved online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, PriceMinister.com, Newegg, Buy.com, Game, Wish.com, CDiscount.com, Rue du Commerce and Shop.com; it is for sellers with international exposure to GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, CAD and/or HKD but without bank accounts for one or all of those currencies.
There are no account opening or monthly fees.
All Global Currency Account transactions with a foreign exchange component will be subject to an OFX exchange rate that includes a mark-up, and this makes the service somewhat less transparent than some newer firms in the industry that disclose fees separately.
OFX is certainly not the cheapest FX provider but it is not an expensive service by any means.
Further to costs built into the exchange rate, with OFX you might be asked to pay a flat transfer fee when you send money — a fee that varies by currency. For AUD, fees are currently set to AUD15 for amounts less than AUD10,000, and the same is true for CAD transfers (CAD15 for sub-CAD10,000). For GBP and USD transfers, no transfer fees are charged.
For currency routes that we looked at (routes involving AUD, INR, GBP, EUR and USD), the cost of an international payment with OFX averaged 1.4 percent of the transferred amount, which is exceptional when compared with the cost of sending money with a bank (bank charges might have averaged 4.0 percent for the same transactions), but is perhaps double what is charged by newer firms in the industry that offer transfers at interbank exchange rates with or without a small, separate fee.
With a Global Currency Account, you’ll be given a unique set of account details for receiving each of the following major currencies free of charge: GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, CAD and HKD.
With these “local” account numbers, businesses can save substantial sums by avoiding unnecessary back-and-forth FX charges. An Amazon seller in the UK could, for example, receive funds from French customers worth €5,000, keep those funds in euros, and then send euro payments to Spanish suppliers worth €3,500. If the seller then wanted to withdraw profits to the UK, the only FX costs to be paid would be those on the remaining €1,500 which must be converted into British pounds. Without OFX’s EUR account, this Amazon seller would pay for EUR-GBP conversion every time money was received from the continent, and would pay a GBP-EUR cost on all Spanish supplier payments.
OFX notes that new customers might need to wait 6 working days for their Global Currency Account numbers (4 working days for new-account approval and 2 for receiving account details).
The short answer is “yes,” or at least as safe as it can be.
OFX deploys top-notch security systems, is highly regulated and has an inherently low-risk business model, which in the FX space means that it offers a deliverable-only FX service and does not take positions in the markets, thereby eliminating market risk.
As for your money, this is held separately from OFX’s own funds in a major financial institution.
As part of its account-protecting technology, OFX deploys algorithms that monitor registrations, logins and transactions to identify suspicious activity, and other tech includes a multi-layered fraud prevention system that works against phishing, malware and apps that might target customer accounts.
Needless to say, SSL encryption is used to keep your information safe from prying digital eyes.
At the time of writing, OFX was regulated by financial authorities in the UK (FCA), Australia (ASIC), Canada (FINTRAC) and the US (FinCEN).
More generally, OFX’s long history and excellent reputation also bode well when considering the safety of your money.
All said, we cannot see any reason why funds would be at risk in an OFX Global Currency Account.
OFX provides a number of risk and FX management features that businesses will appreciate.
Forward contracts are an effective way of managing foreign currency exposures for those who stand to lose significant amounts if exchange rates move against them in the coming days or months (up to 12 months). A forward contract allows for locking in an exchange rate today for a transfer that you will pay for in future. Once you have opened a Global Currency Account, give an OFX rep a call to discuss your unique hedging requirements.
Mass payments, such as those needed for payrolls, are easily done using Multipay, which is also set up by calling OFX. With Multipay, up to 500 payments can be sent at once.
Limit orders allow users to convert money at exchange rates better than today’s. Once a desired rate has been specified, OFX systems will monitor the FX markets 24/7 on a user’s behalf, triggering their money transfer once the market rate matches the desired rate. A downside of this feature is that the minimum transaction size for limit orders is large, at AUD 30,000 or GBP 20,000 (varies by currency).
Recurring transfers are available, such as those needed for overseas mortgages. With OFX, a payment plan can be set up at a fixed, agreed-upon exchange rate so that you know exactly what you’re spending each month.
Customer service at OFX is 24/7 and support options are excellent. These include 10 national phone lines reaching support staff in 7 countries, email support and an extensive FAQ section on the main site.
Though there are disappointed customers to be found online, as there are with any service, the bulk of OFX customers (we estimate 80 percent) report highly professional support when things go wrong, with adjectives like “thorough,” “understanding,” “prompt” and “knowledgeable” used repeatedly to describe OFX staff.
OFX outlines a complaints policy on its site but be aware that a final response to complaints might take as long as 45 days, which is much longer than we’d like.
At the time of writing this review (May 2019), more than 3,000 of the 3,500 Trustpilot reviewers had rewarded OFX a 5-star rating, and that should speak volumes. As you’d expect from any top firm in the payments industry, common themes within reviews relate to: “great exchange rates,” “excellent service,” “substantially better than the banks,” “quick service” and “easy to get hold of,” among others.
We should say, however, that the months leading up to this independent BER review appear to have been a little tougher for OFX. Though negative feedback still represented a very low percentage of total feedback (we estimate 10 percent), we did detect a significant pick-up in problematic transfers that wasn’t detectable for OFX’s main competitors.
Open an OFX Global Currency Account and start optimising your international transactions today.
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