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50% of Malaysians cite high costs of remittances a challenge during COVID-19

48% had to reduce remittance amount sent 35% completely gave up on sending remittances Not being able to make transfers at physical bank bra...

  • 48% had to reduce remittance amount sent
  • 35% completely gave up on sending remittances
  • Not being able to make transfers at physical bank branches, long wait times to set up transfers and for remittances to reach recipients were other top challenges for Malaysians



A whopping 50% of Malaysians find the high cost associated with remittances to be a challenge, with almost half (48%) reducing the amount sent and more than one-third (35%) completely giving up on sending a remittance. These findings were from a survey [1] commissioned by global technology company TransferWise to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the remittance habits of those living in Malaysia.

The survey also revealed these four biggest challenges faced by Malaysians in the past 12 months:
  • Time needed for remittances to reach the intended recipients (57%)
  • Not being able to travel to a physical branch to make a remittance order (54%)
  • Time needed to set up their transfer (51%)
  • High cost of remittances (50%)

With many Malaysians affected by the pandemic, this further highlights the growing need for consumers to have access to remittance services that are cheaper, faster, and more convenient.

Instant and convenient transfers lessens anxiety
The speed of transfers is a key consideration for many Malaysian consumers, with 61% of those surveyed saying it was an important factor when choosing an online remittance service. Another huge concern for 57% of Malaysians is the long time spent waiting for their overseas remittances to reach its intended recipient, the ability to track the status of their transfers in real-time — which they can do with TransferWise — would help to lessen their anxiety.

Fully-online experience
With more than one-third (32%) of Malaysians opting to set up their remittance order in person at a bank, 54% of the survey respondents found not being able to visit a physical branch during the past 12 months a challenge due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) measure implemented. The long time needed to set up their remittance order was also an issue for 51% of them.

TransferWise’s completely online remittance service should help with this, where customers can get verified and set up their transfer money quickly. Users can also make instant pay-ins to fund their remittance, further shortening the time taken.

Low and transparent costings
37% of Malaysians said that cost and trust was an important factor when choosing a remittance provider. With four in 10 noticing an increase in the cost of sending remittances over the past year and half of them citing high costs as a challenge, it resulted in lesser amounts of remittances being sent by 48% of the survey respondents.

In an effort to keep remittances low-cost, TransferWise uses only the mid-market exchange rate (that can be seen on Google) with no mark-up. Coupled with low fees, which are shown upfront, this makes the service up to 4x cheaper compared to other providers.

TransferWise Malaysia Country Manager, Ms. Lim Paik Wan, said: “The findings of the survey tell us that due to the pandemic and current Movement Control Order measures, the need for cheaper, faster, and more convenient remittance services have never been more necessary for Malaysians. Many surveyed said that not having access to a physical bank counter and the high costs of remittances were a challenge during the past 12 months.”

“At TransferWise, we want to offer customers in Malaysia a remittance service that is low-cost, instant and convenient, and we hope to enable them to continue to do what they need to during their daily life, whether that includes sending money to support their loved ones or to pay bills.”

[1] Independent survey conducted by Ipsos from 27 Nov to 3 Dec 2020, collecting 1,000 respondents targeting both citizens and expatriates living in Malaysia who have sent an overseas remittance in the past 12 months.