If you send money to Kenya from the UK on a regular basis, you can lose a fortune on fees that banks and money remittance providers charge as well as exchange rate differentials/conversion fees.
The most popular services used to send money to Kenya include Western Union, World Remit, and BACS international transfers. However, these are also the most expensive options. Western Union and World Remit charge exorbitantly high fees and they also give the recipient a raw deal on the exchange rate.
Somali hawala’s have also been popular and cheap but the Kenyan Government has cracked down on them hard in the wake of suspicions of being complicit in terrorist financing.
Some Advice on International Transfers
Depending on your bank, International transfers may be cheaper for large amounts but the receiver still gets a raw deal if their local bank account is in Kenya shillings. This is because local Kenyan banks convert the remitted funds to Kenya shillings at the worst rate they can get away with. If you are concerned about how much the recipient will receive on an International transfer, the best thing would be to advise them to open a foreign currency account. This way, they can negotiate with the local Kenyan bank on the exchange rate.
Cheapest and Most Convenient Ways to Send Money to Kenya
From our research, we can confidently state that the following methods are not only the cheapest but the most convenient as well.
Simba Pay doesn’t charge any fees. They make money on the exchange rate. The advantage with Simba is that they offer you a fixed exchange rate. This is a vital feature because you know exactly how much you are sending the recipient even if the international exchange rates change the very next second after hitting the send button. They have a mobile app for Android and iPhone. Recipients in Kenya can receive the funds in their M-Pesa wallet or bank account.
Skrill charges a fee of 1% of the total amount sent. This is capped at a maximum of €10 (or the equivalent in pounds). This means that even if you send a large amount, the maximum fee you will pay for sending money is €10. For convenience, Skrill is also available as a mobile app for Android and iPhone. A conversion fee is also applied and Kenyans receive the funds in their M-Pesa wallets.
Get a Safaricom SIM Card
If you are a Kenyan citizen living in the UK, nothing is cheaper and more convenient than getting yourself a Safaricom SIM card. You can take advantage of Safaricom’s roaming services to send and receive money via M-Pesa. However, don’t use the phone line to call or send messages due to the high roaming costs…just keep it switched off till you need to send money. This is by far the cheapest method to send money to Kenya. You will incur the usual M-Pesa charges that would be levied to a user in Kenya.
Funding Your M-Pesa Wallet
This could prove a challenge. We don’t advocate this but some Kenyans in the UK do this by asking a trusted relative in Kenya to open a Kenyan bank account in their own names, register a SIM card for mobile banking and then courier the SIM card to them in the UK. If you visit Kenya, it is better to set this up yourself…and you, of course, avoid getting into legal trouble. Once your local Kenyan account is set up, you can deposit money into the account while in the UK, fund your M-Pesa wallet and send money to Kenya.