Wave money transfer Review: Is it safe? How does it work? What are the rates?

Wave offers money transfers from the UK, the US and Canada to countries in Africa

Wave money transfers can only be made from their mobile app, available on Apple and Android devices

Transfers are made from the sender’s bank account directly to the mobile wallet of the beneficiary

Money transfers are very fast, often arriving almost immediately

Our independent review of Wave Money Transfer

Last updated March 27, 2019
Written by François Briod

Wave is a money transfer provider offering very fast currency exchange services in Africa. Although they only offer a limited range of countries to send from and to, they do not charge fees and provide a simply and easy-to-use mobile app.

Wave only allows you to transfer money via their dedicated smartphone application, available for both Apple and Android phones. Customers in the US, the UK and Canada can send money, and current receiving countries include Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Although the range of sending and receiving countries is limited, Wave are planning to introduce money transfer services to more countries as the company grows.

Wave does not charge fees to use its money transfer services and instead makes a profit by offering a worse exchange rate than the base rate. This rate varies between being around 1.5 percent and five percent lower. This can make them more expensive than other providers for certain money transfer needs, so it’s worth comparing.

You can only send money from a debit card linked to a bank account in the US, the UK, Canada or another country approved by Wave. The mobile application can be used anywhere in the world, as long as the payment comes from a bank account approved by Wave.

You cannot use a credit card, PayPal or a direct bank transfer to fund currency exchanges. We did find a couple of references on the Wave website to sending funds to the beneficiary’s bank account, but couldn’t find further details. It looks like they mainly offer to transfer funds to the beneficiary’s mobile wallet, which would explain why the transfers are so fast.

There are limits to how much money people can send. You can initially transfer a maximum of $999/£750/€750 per day and $2,999/£2,500/€2,500 per month. These limits can be raised to $2,999/£2,500/€2,500 per day and $12,000/£10,000/€10,000 per month if Wave receives proof of identity as part of a photographic ID.

Wave, with a website at www.wave.com (part of a business called Chime Inc.) should not be confused with Wave Money, with a website at www.wavemoney.com.mm — they are separate businesses.

Wave Money Transfer

What we like about Wave Money Transfer

  • Very fast money transfers, often arriving within 30 seconds

  • Wave’s mobile application is simple and intuitive

  • Exchange rates for some currency pairs are fairly competitive

  • No fees apart from a percentage of the exchange rate

What we dislike about Wave Money Transfer

  • Limited sending availability as you can currently only send from the UK, the US and Canada

  • Limited receiving availability as beneficiaries must be in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania or Uganda

  • Exchange rates for some currency pairs are not competitive

  • Wave money transfer services are only available via the mobile application, there is no website portal or local agent network

Compare Wave Money Transfer Fees and Exchange Rates
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Wave Money Transfer fees & exchange rate

Wave fees

Wave does not charge any fees on money you send, instead they charge a percentage of the exchange rate and make money that way.

About fees levied by banks

Certain fees may be levied by banks when you are transferring money. These fees are outside the control of Wave. Circumstances where banks may charge additional fees include:

  • Wire transfers into or out of sender or beneficiary accounts
  • Transfers that are sent via SWIFT or certain other banking protocols
  • Beneficiary banks charging a fee to receive a transfer
  • Intermediary banks charging fees to process money in transit

These fees could mean that the beneficiary receives less money than stated by Wave due to circumstances beyond Wave’s control. If you want to understand what these extra fees are likely to be, please contact your bank and the beneficiary's bank.

Wave exchange rates

Wave makes money by offering you lower exchange rates than you might get elsewhere. Here’s how Wave’s money transfer rates compare to the interbank, base exchange rate.

Sending $1,000 USD from America to Ghana

  • The interbank exchange rate is $1,000 USD to 5,195 Ghanaian Cedi
  • Wave offers to exchange $1,000 USD to 4,950 Ghanaian Cedi
  • This means the beneficiary will get 245 Ghanaian Cedi less
  • The exchange rate offered by Wave is around five percent worse than the base rate
  • Another provider, like TransferWise, might charge only around one percent in total fees

Sending £1,000 GBP from the UK to Nigeria

  • The interbank exchange rate is  £1,000 GBP to 475,725 Nigerian Naira
  • Wave offers to exchange £1,000 GBP to 466,000 Nigerian Naira
  • This means the beneficiary will get 9,725 Nigerian Naira less
  • The exchange rate offered by Wave is around two percent worse than the base rate
  • Another provider, like Azimo, might charge only around 1.5 percent in total fees

*The interbank rate is also known as the mid-market or standard exchange rate, which is the midpoint between the buying and the selling prices of the two currencies.

How easy is it to send money with Wave Money Transfer

The Wave mobile app is simple, intuitive and easy to use and received positive feedback and reviews on the App Store and the Google Play store. You can quickly add a new beneficiary by adding their name and phone number. You will need to enter identity information and verify your email before you can use Wave to send money overseas.

If you want to use Wave, you must be at least 18 years old and be a resident of the United States, Canada, the UK or another origination country approved by Wave. You must also have an account in your name in that country and be registered with Wave. You will need to provide personal information including your name, address, date of birth, telephone number, email address and other information or documentation for verifying your identity.

Credibility security

Wave started in 2014 and since then it has provided money transfer services for over 100,000 customers. This makes Wave a leading currency exchange provider for East and West Africa.

Wave uses strong encryption and security to protect personal data and payment information, and adhere to industry best practices. They also send money to the beneficiary instantly, so it isn’t kept in Wave’s bank accounts. Wave are regulated by multiple government agencies across the US, the UK and Canada. They also meet necessary compliance and regulation standards to protect sensitive user and payment information. This includes encoding all data as soon as it is entered in the Wave app and sending it over an encrypted 128-bit connection.

Service & Coverage

You can send money from your US, UK or Canadian debit cards to Ghana, Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania. You can use Wave anywhere in the world, but your bank account must be based in the US, UK or Canada at present.

Customer Satisfaction

We were not able to find any independent customer reviews of Wave on Trustpilot, but users of the app were very positive about the software. Reading through the reviews on the App Store and Google Play store highlighted the following points.

Positive

  • Customers praised the way that Wave kept them updated about the progress of their transfer
  • The customer service was praised as being fast, friendly and efficient
  • People praised Wave for being fast and efficient

Negative

  • The main complaint was issues with signing up, especially with proving identity before being able to use the app — this is a common complaint with most money transfer providers
  • There are occasionally some delays when sending money to certain beneficiaries
  • Some customers wanted Wave to expand their services to other countries and found the limited options to be restrictive

Customer support

  • US and Canada phone number: +1 888 966 8603
  • UK phone number: +44 113 320 7935
  • Email: help@wave.com
  • US office address: 100 M Street SE, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20003 USA
  • UK office address: 11 Hanover Road, London, England, NW10 3DJ
  • Wave on Facebook
  • Wave on Twitter

How transparent is Wave Money Transfer

Wave keeps you updated on the progress of your money transfer. They will send you an email and update the transaction state to 'Funds Delivered' on the Transactions screen as soon as the funds arrive to the beneficiary’s mobile.

The website is only available in English.

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Wave mobile applications

Wave only offers money transfers via their dedicated smartphone application. You can get the app for both Apple and Android devices.

On Apple’s app store, the “Wave - Send Money to Africa” app has received an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars, across more than 1,000 reviews.  

On the Google Play store for Android, the “Wave - Send Money to Africa” app has received an average of four out of five stars across more than 3,000 reviews.

Here’s how Wave describes their smartphone app:

  • Instant, no fee transfers from your debit card to mobile money accounts in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ghana
  • Send money as easily and quickly as a text
  • Personal support, seven days a week
  • Realtime updates on the status of your transfer so you always know where your money is

How Wave works

Wave’s currency exchange process works as follows:

  1. Download the Wave app for your Apple or Android device
  2. Setup an account through the app—they will need your name, address, contact details, and other details
  3. Decide who you want to send money to
  4. Enter the beneficiary’s name and phone number
  5. Enter the amount you want to send and pay for the transfer
  6. Wave will convert the money and send it to the beneficiary’s mobile wallet


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