How to send money to Ukraine from abroad

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Millions of Ukrainians continue to live abroad, fleeing the war. Many of them already have a job at their new place of residence and prefer to participate in supporting relatives and/or contribute to the needs of the Armed Forces. There are dozens of answers to the question “how to transfer money to Ukraine”.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of mid-May 2024, there were almost 6.5 million Ukrainian refugees were registered. Most of them (5.9 million) received asylum in the countries of the European Union.

Many Ukrainians have already found employment in the country of temporary residence. First of all, people who agreed to work in the field of service, logistics and trade got the job; some had to radically retrain for this, if compared with pre-war specialization. At the same time, Ukrainian refugees strive to participate in the life of their native country: they donate to the Armed Forces, send funds to those relatives who remained in Ukraine, support volunteer humanitarian movements, etc. So the question arises: what is the best way to transfer money from foreign accounts to Ukrainian ones.

What is the best way to transfer money from European cards to Ukrainian cardswhere?

Although all European banks have modern online and mobile applications, making a transfer from them is often either impossible or extremely expensive due to huge fees. This significantly distinguishes them from card-to-card transfers, which are usual for Ukrainian consumers.

In Europe, c2c payments work – “from account to account”. And in Ukraine, consumers are used to P2P transfers, “from card to card”. There is a significant difference here, because C2C transfers can include conversion from European currency, for example zlotys or euros, to hryvnia. The conversion can be bypassed if you make a transfer to a Ukrainian euro card“, explains banker Olena Domuz.

Often, in online banking systems, there is no way to transfer money to a card of another bank or abroad. For example, in the system of the Polish bank PKO there is a restriction according to which transfers are possible only within Poland. “At PKO, it is written in our online bank that domestic transfers only are available,” says Maria, a mother of many children who lives and works as a refugee in Warsaw. Therefore, in order to make a transfer from account to account, it is necessary that both banks – European and Ukrainian – provide such an opportunity.

If a foreign bank allows money transfer – what next?

In the eurozone, it can be the SEPA system, in other countries – the SWIFT dollar transfer system, or through separate Visa and MasterCard services. The National Bank of Ukraine announced that it is working on the integration of Ukrainian banks into SEPA. Some Ukrainian banks, such as mono and A-Bank, already have this function through intermediaries.

If a European bank allows a SEPA transfer, you can open a euro card in a Ukrainian bank, which is done online, and transfer money to it from your European card. To do this, you need to obtain SEPA details from a Ukrainian bank and enter them in the online or mobile banking of a European bank.

Dollar transfers are made through the SWIFT system. Bankers note that it is more convenient for large sums. “SWIFT transfers are a convenient way to transfer money from abroad to an individual’s IBAN account. A SWIFT transfer is more profitable than an urgent transfer if you are sending an amount of $1,000 or more and have no restrictions on the amount,” says PrivatBank.

Another way is to transfer via Visa/MasterCard technology. The corresponding option must also be in a foreign bank.

Since 2022, Ukrainian banks have developed various products to make it easier for customers to transfer funds from abroad. For example, if you have PrivatBank, you can add a foreign bank card to Privat24 and make transfers within the system.

What are the commissions for transfers to Ukraine?

“Our clients can send funds from a foreign card to their Sense card from 49 countries of the world, and from Ukraine – to 95 countries. For transfers from abroad to a Ukrainian card, the commission is 2% of the amount (minimum 2 euros) from Sense Bank,” says Ihor Horin, director of e-commerce development and innovation at Sense Bank.

“The tariff for replenishing Ukrainian cards from foreign ones is set by the acquiring bank (the bank to which the funds are transferred, the seller’s bank or the recipient’s bank) and is 3% on average. However, credit cards at FUIB are free of charge – incoming transfers are not charged,” says Denys Vorobyov, head of the Eurointegrarion Tribe of FUIB.

Commissions of European banks should also be taken into account. “For an amount up to 100 euros, the commission is 5 euros, and there is also a certain commission of the Ukrainian bank. Commissions can only reach 17 euros on the German side, this is significant for small transfers,” says Natalia, a Ukrainian who moved to Germany at the beginning of the war.

In addition to the commission, you need to be careful about where the money goes. “We had a case when funds from a European bank account did not arrive at a Ukrainian bank account. We started looking for what happened. It turned out that the European bank sent the funds to PrivatBank, and they got stuck there. Because in the European bank, the system automatically sent all transfers destined for Ukraine to PrivatBank. Later, we found the funds and returned them, but it took time and effort,” says a Ukrainian woman working in the EU.

What systems allow transferring funds from abroad to Ukraine?

Currently, several transfer systems are popular in the EU, which allow you to conveniently transfer funds between banks without banking restrictions. “Providers such as TransferGo, TransferWise, Payoneer, Zen Com, Paysera, Paysend, Revolut, Paypal provide a more convenient service for making transfers from foreign cards to Ukrainian cards, compared to many foreign banks that do not develop this service at the moment “, – admits Dmytro Musienko, a member of the board of PrivatBank in charge of retail business.

Most citizens use various payment add-ons. “We use Paysend. They write that they don’t have a commission, but they have their own course,” says Maria from Warsaw. For example, on the day of our conversation, 915 UAH came from transferring 100 zlotys to a Ukrainian card. On this day, the hryvnia to zloty exchange rate was UAH 979. “The difference of 64 hryvnias is about 6%, in fact, this is the Paysend commission,” says Maria. However, different transfer systems will have a different exchange rate on different days. For example, in the PayPal system on May 23, $20 was transferred to a Ukrainian card as 796.5 hryvnias, which corresponded to the official exchange rate of the National Bank.

Are there alternative ways to transfer funds?

So. “Money transfer systems PrivatMoney, Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Meest, IntelExpress – the sender can go to the website of the required system (if available) or contact the service point of the system and send the transfer in a few minutes,” says Dmytro Musienko from PrivatBank .

For example, Raiffeisen Bank at the end of 2023 introduced the possibility of making money transfers through the MoneyGram service. “Transfers are paid in the MyRaif mobile application, meaning you don’t even need to visit a bank branch,” explains Serhiy Annikov, head of savings and transaction services at Raiffeisen Bank.

Sometimes online or mobile banking of European banks has the function of sending such transfers. If the bank does not allow this, you need to look for a MoneyGram office in Europe. Here you can see the difference between Ukrainian and European banking. If in Ukraine money transfers via MoneyGram or Western Union are available in almost every bank branch, in Europe everything depends on the country and city. For example, in Warsaw there are dozens of MoneyGram points, in Budapest there are about 10 of them for the whole city, in Berlin – about 20. Some points may be available only to customers of the banks where they are located, so it is better to clarify all the details beforehand.

Currently, NovaPay also enables transfers from abroad using Western Union, Ria, and just a couple of days later – using MoneyGram. “They can be sent from almost any country in the world and received in Ukraine at the Nova Poshta branch,” says Oleksiy Ruban, Innovation Director of NovaPay. According to him, the company is currently working on its own product, which will allow Ukrainians abroad to send funds from Nova Post branches in Europe to Nova Poshta branches in Ukraine.

What is important to pay attention to when choosing a transfer method?

“First of all, we recommend paying attention to the currency in which the payment of the transfer is possible; to the exchange rate at which the conversion will be carried out (if available); the commission of the sending bank and the conditions of the receiving account, as a significant number of Ukrainian banks may charge a commission for the registration or use of the received funds,” says Denys Vorobyov, Head of the Eurointegrarion Tribe FUIB.

Ihor Horin from Sense Bank adds that the speed of the transfer is also an indicative aspect. “Remember reliability and safety. Use systems with a good reputation and customer reviews,” Horin summarizes.

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