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Paying Contractors Abroad

We are a remote company. We use contractors based in places all over the world, for development, design and things we can’t handle ourselves. Paying contractors through regular international banking transfers is expensive so we’ve found some alternatives:


These guys are our favourite. The fees are reasonable and so are their midmarket exchange rates. We also really like that we only need the recipient’s email address and they fill in their bank details. That leaves the responsibility of getting the bank details correct with the person who knows the bank details best. It also saves time going back and forth between your accounts department and the contractor to get all the necessary details. The only downside is that they don’t cover every country in the world. They are great for European based and a few others. They do add all the time so we keep checking.

It’s a simple sign up process and transfers are easy. Tell them who you’re sending money to, how much and then transfer funds to Transferwise through internet banking (or Visa/Mastercard). They assign you a personal reference which doesn’t change which we find really helpful as once a payee is set up, our bank doesn’t let you change the reference.

If you’re using a business bank account, they will verify company and director details before you can make a transfer.

If you haven’t used Transferwise before, sign up with this link to receive your first transfer free.*


Because we can’t use Transferwise for all currencies, we also use Azimo. They have more countries around the world, especially in Africa and Asia. Their fees are higher than Transferwise (about £1 for every £100 so you bank might start to get competitive on larger amounts) so we only use Azimo for countries not covered by Transferwise such as Vietnam, Ethiopia and Bosnia Hercegovina. Money can be sent to local currency accounts as well as Euro and US dollar accounts in some countries.

The transfer process is the same as Transferwise but the reference number does change with every transaction. This is important. Azimo will match your deposit to their account (where you will quote the reference number) with the transaction from your dashboard so they know they received your money and can send the funds on to your recipient. This becomes an issue if using Azimo more than once AND if your bank doesn’t allow you to change the reference of a payee once they are set up in your online banking system.

We have contacted customer support and they say they will ‘find’ the transfer if you have to use a previous reference but we always drop them an email with the details of both reference numbers, just in case.

We have used customer support for a few things and found them to be quite good.

For business accounts, they will verify company and director details before you can make a transfer.

The Others

We’ve looked into a number of other services but rejected most of them. Here’s a quick summary of why:

Currency Fair

The service looks good, simple and quick but the rates quoted aren’t quite as good as Transferwise and there are not enough currencies. At least ones we use.

World Remit

There’s a bug on the homepage so the dropdown list doesn’t show you the countries they can send funds too. You can only see it after you’ve signed up. They do cover a lot of countries that Transferwise do not. The fees are lower than Azimo but the rate is poorer for the recipient (at least for the couple of countries I’ve checked) and we don’t think that’s fair on our contractors. They also only deal in local currency so we can’t send our Vietnamese designer their fee to their US dollar account.


PayPal rates have a bad reputation. Though you can send money using only a mobile phone number or email address. We think currencies such as US dollars can be received instead of local currency.


Nothing on the site is clear before you sign up. It’s more of a broker service than a quick online transfer. We did kind of like their email summarising currency trading for the day (Sterling is up against the US dollar…). They do have an online platform we might check out one day.

Currency Solutions

They make you sign up for a quote but we didn’t actually receive one. We just got an introductory email from a broker. They only deal with amounts over £3000 (rare for us). We couldn’t really be bothered looking into it any further, we look for quick, easy online transfer services that beat bank rates.

Currencies Direct

Sounds like it should be a Transferwise or Azimo like service but again, we just got an email from a broker. We couldn’t check the day’s rates or fees without signing up. So we didn’t bother. Trade Account

We have actually used an Trade account in the past, but only to send personal money from an account in Australia to a personal account in the UK (same owner). Trades go through Customs House and take a few days. The User Interface isn’t as friendly, it feels like a brokerage. It’s definitely cheaper than the banks. We should probably look at this again as they have loads of currencies.


*In the interests of disclosure, we get some cash too. We would never endorse a product or service we didn’t use or believe in.

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About the author

Barry O'Kane

Barry is the founder of HappyPorch. With 20 years in the web development industry as a programmer and agency owner, he has a preternatural ability to decipher the systems and processes code that holds many teams back from achieving their goals. Partners say Barry gets to the root of issues quickly and makes it downright easy to deliver good work.    

While he's unbelievably grounded, it's not uncommon to find him sailing through the trees as he paraglides his way round the world.