Remit to India Options for Indian NRI

First thing come to any expat Indian's mind is how he can transfer money to his motherland. What is the best online Remit to India solution available today? Are commonly available money transfer services such as MoneyGram, Xoom, and Western Union the right solution for NRI?

Annually, more than 35 million Indian expatriates living abroad transfer US $24 billion to India. Hence, it is a fact that, NRI Indians are one of the biggest remitter communities in the world
A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is an Indian citizen who has migrated to another country, a person of Indian origin who is born outside India, or a person of Indian origin who resides permanently outside India.
There are many reasons why an Indian sends money to his or her motherland. The motives are numerous- it may be for immediate family members, for a close relative's birthday, for an emergency or family bereavement or illness and many other reasons. This indicates whatever the reasons; almost all the expatriate Indians are searching for uncomplicated, secured and cheaper money transfer solutions. It's apparent that the conventional money transfer options seem highly inadequate to meet the ever growing demands and expectations of Indians abroad.

So, one needs to examine what contemporary money transfer options available meeting the requirements and expectations of Non Resident Indian (NRI).

Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin
A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is a citizen of India who holds an Indian passport and has temporarily emigrated to another country for six months or more for employment, residence, education or any other purpose. A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) is a person of Indian origin or ancestry but who is not a citizen of India and is the citizen of another country. A PIO might have been a citizen of India and subsequently taken the citizenship of another country, or have ancestors born in India or other states.

Traditional Money Transfer Methods

Traditional money transfer methods such as Credit Cards, Bank Drafts, Wire transfers and Cheques have been there for many decades. Such methods seemed to be cumbersome, extremely slow and uneconomical and in some remote cases unreliable. Additionally, credit cards can be a faster method for sending money, however, owing to strict financial regulations and practices in India, the beneficiary may face lot of red tape before obtaining the money. Wire transfers are reliable but extremely slow and costly if large sums of money are involved. Similarly, the bank drafts and cheques take a longer period to reach the beneficiary; in some cases the recipient may not receive them at all.

Hence, sending money to India is inundated with many issues such as long delays, high transfer costs, misplacements, numerous unnecessary visits to local agents, and theft. These issues can subject the sender or the recipient into highly anxious and irritable situations. Therefore, it's no surprise many NRIs are constantly looking of money transfer methods that are faster, cheaper and reliable and less cumbersome.

Information Age

With the advent of Internet, the online money transfer has become increasingly popular among expatriate Indians. There are many online money transfer websites available across globe including India. Today, any expatriate Indian can remit in any currency denomination from any part of the globe. These online money transfer web services have really made simple and user-friendly for an Indian to send money to his kith and kin or for business purpose. It's just a one click away from your computer.

How do these online money transfer systems work? All you have to do is to register an account with the online money Transfer Company or website like PayPal, Moneybookers, MoneyGram, Western Union, Xoom, Ikobo, and Cash2India. Once you register, you need to input the details of the transaction you intend to do. For example, the name and address of the recipient or the beneficiary and amount of funds that you want to transfer. Then you can upload funds using either your credit card or your bank account and click submit button. Once the online money transfer web site approves your transaction, in matter of minutes, the money directly deposited to the recipient's account in India. Alternatively, the company may send the money to the closest branch office or franchise to collect cash in India.

Let us compare the pros and cons of popular online companies that are available to NRI

Western Union:

Western Union is one of the oldest (more than 150 years) money transfer services available today. This company provides online as well as offline money transfer options with over 300,000 agents or franchises located all over the globe. It is one of the reputable and reliable money transfer companies in the world.

You can Remit to India instantly and safely via Western Union. You do not need to have a bank account to send funds and the recipient can collect cash in local currency. It has massive global network of franchises which facilitate collection and sending of funds. You can send money physically to any Western Union agent location instantly. Sometimes you may have to give a phone call confirming the money transaction. The beneficiary needs to have a valid ID or a passport including Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) to collect the cash. While recognizing the many advantages of Western Union, anyone should be aware of their high transaction costs compared to other service providers. Also, the exchange rates offered may be lower than the prevailing rates.


Ikobo, makes use of the Visa ATM card network available worldwide to transfer money abroad. Similar to other online money transfer service providers, it is essential to sign up for an account on Ikobo web site. Then, you have to advise Ikobo to courier a special re-loadable Visa card to your recipient. Once the card is received by your recipient, you can upload funds on to the card whenever is needed. Then the recipient holding the special Visa card can withdraw cash (via ATM machine) whatever the location he happens to be residing.

Ikobo charges very low fees when re-loading the visa card. You can send large sums of money without the risk of carrying it physically. Very little credit check is involved when doing the transaction. The disadvantage is the Visa card can only be used at a VISA ATM facility, at present ATM network is not fully developed in India. Hopefully, it will be available across India shortly.


Another money transfer service available worldwide. It operates over 180 countries with wide network of franchises spread across the globe. MoneyGram has a very effective online money transfer service which enables you to send money directly to any US bank account.

The advantage is you can receive money very quickly. Only matter of answering a test question to send money in the case the recipient has no proper identification. You can send up to US $10,000 in a single transaction subject to two transactions per day. However, MoneyGram is not available for some countries. The transaction charges seem moderately high.


This is another popular online money transfer service available in Europe. You can transfer money using your email. However, similar to other online service providers, you have to sign up an account with Moneybookers. The good news is the beneficiary doesn't require an account. The money can be transferred to 30 different countries including India and it supports twelve different languages.

The advantages are: instant money transfer, competitive transaction costs, highly secured including SMS and fax messaging options. Still Moneybookers is not fully developed or accepted worldwide, so sending money transfer is limited to few countries.


Xoom has user friendly website. You need only to follow easy instructions online when sending money. Many options are available to choose- hand delivery of funds, collection of funds from any location, uploading funds to a bank account or to a PayPal account. When you do funds transfer via Xoom, you will be given a tracking number which has to be given to the recipient enabling him to collect the funds.

Xoom transfer fees are lesser than other online service providers. It's easy to transfer money to US bank account. The only drawback is Xoom money transfer network is not fully developed as other service providers like Western Union. It operates only in 30 countries.

As discussed above, there are many online money transfer companies available worldwide. Depending on you requirement and expectations you can find the most appropriate one.

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