The easiest ways to send money to family and friends to Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire is one of the fastest-growing economiesby the World Economic Forumestimates more than 80% of the population uses mobile money systems, the fifth-highest adoption rate in the world. It is also the predominant way high school students pay tuition fees, with some 94% using this payment form. Being a leader in cocoa and coffee exports, among other industries, this growing market has been highly attractive to international banks and other financial services such as mobile money.
Mobile money is also a preferred solution used by the Ivorian diaspora to send money to family and friends back home. Such direct mobile-to-mobile payments provide relatives abroad with additional options to send money to Côte d'Ivoire on one hand and allow loved ones to receive money in Côte d'Ivoire to avoid withdrawal fees on the other hand.
This contrasts with traditional bank accounts, where only some 40% of the population have one and internal bank transfers can cost up to $30. As such, mobile banking has gradually overtaken traditional banking services. This uptake of mobile banking has helped balance the country’s financial exclusion, considering there are only some 5 bank branches per 100,000 people.
In this article, we compare the various ways you can send money to Côte d’Ivoire so you can determine which is the best option for your situation. We also have detailed articles on how to send money to: Africa, Cameroon and Kenya.
Sending money to Côte d'Ivoire
Many relatives abroad send money to cover costs for their family and friends in Côte d'Ivoire. The World Bank reported that remittances to Côte d'Ivoire totals almost USD 325 million. Although, this represents only 0.5% of the country’s GDP, much lower than some of its neighbors where remittances can be as high as 10% of GDP.
However, there are still some challenges to consider:
- One of the most fluctuating factors is the exchange rate. Since 2021, the USD to CFA Franc rate has risen from some 500 Francs to 600 Francs in one year.
- Direct mobile wallet payments are effective inside the country but they do not eliminate the cost of a currency exchange when sending money from abroad.
- Wallet-to-wallet payments are often free or low cost; however, fees can significantly rise if your relative needs to withdraw cash.
As such, the best way to send money to Côte d’Ivoire depends on the intended use of the funds and what payment options your recipient has. An alternative option is to pay for services directly, removing the middle process of organizing a money transfer.
KimboCare is one such service that allows you to directly pay for medical treatments using secure blockchain technology. People can upload money to the platform from anywhere in the world, which is then converted into ‘health credits’. These credits can be used to cover medical treatments in Côte d’Ivoire without requiring currency exchange or withdrawal fees. We explain here how it can save you money.
The different ways to send money to Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire is situated in West Africa and uses the West African CFA Franc (XOF). The currency is shared with Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. It has the same value as the Central African CFA Franc (XAF). The currency is pegged to the euro, which means euro fluctuations affect the CFA Franc.
There are no restrictions on foreign exchange transactions entering or exiting the country. However, you and your recipient will likely need to provide:
- an official ID, showing your full name and date of birth
- home and bank addresses
- sometimes you will be asked to provide the purpose of your transfer and the source of your money.
A finite set of key parameters help differentiate between ways of sending money: ease to send, speed to send, cost to send, or safe to send. Let us look at each one in a bit more detail.
- The Easiest way to send money to Côte d’Ivoire: Mobile payments end up being one of the easiest methods because of the extensive payment network inside Côte d’Ivoire. However, paying directly for healthcare on KimboCare’s platform eliminates a further step in dealing with exchange rates. If your family requires healthcare, this can be the easiest method. Read more about it here.
- The fastest way to send money to Côte d’Ivoire: Mobile wallets are one of the fastest ways to send money. Money can be received instantly and then transferred to directly pay for goods and services. However, this depends on what your relatives need help with. If they need cash, an online money service with a cash pick-up will be faster.
- The cheapest way to send money to Côte d’Ivoire: Today, online money transfer services offer the best exchange rates and lowest fees. In some cases, you can send money directly to a mobile wallet. However, if they need cash, you need to account for withdrawal fees when calculating costs.
- The most secure way to send money to Côte d’Ivoire: Banks offer one of the most secure ways to send and store money. This is especially true if you are sending large sums to be drawn over time. However, bank access in Côte d’Ivoire is not well developed and may not be an option for your loved one.
Note that if you are sending over a certain amount of money, you may be required to declare it. For example, when sending money from the US to Côte d’Ivoire, the first $15,000 per person per year is exempt from the IRS under the Gift Tax policy. More than that and you will need to file the IRS Form 709.
Choosing the best way to send money to Côte d’Ivoire
Choosing the right way to send money depends on one’s personal situation. Some questions to ask include: how long would it take to send money? Can my relative receive the money digitally? How reasonable are the fees? Another question we see pop up more and more, especially when it comes to money sent for issues related to access to healthcare or education is: would the money be used for the intended purpose?
In a country where bank access is low, mobile and cash payments are most used. Additionally, when concerns arise around how the money sent is actually used, there are new, typically digitally enabled, solutions that offer alternatives. KimboCare is an example in the healthcare field; its platform enables its clients, to directly purchase medical treatments online, eliminating extra foreign exchange fees or the need to arrange a cash pick-up.
The cost to send is also an often-predominant factor in choosing a way to send money. As previously discussed, there are several ways to send money to Côte d’Ivoire, and each comes with its own pricing features. When comparing the average cost to send EUR 300, it works out to be:
- around EUR 50+ from a bank
- around EUR 20 for a cash transfer
- around EUR 3 euro for an online transfer
Below we go into a deeper explanation about the pros and cons of each key option to send money to Côte d’Ivoire.
Online money transfers to Côte d’Ivoire
In many cases, an online money transfer is increasingly the preferred way to send money.
These types of companies typically offer the best exchange rates at mid-market value. Operating in a competitive market means their services and transparency are continually improving.
The total cost averages from 0.5% to 3.5% of your transfer, compared to around 5% for a bank-to-bank transfer. Another benefit is that some money transfer services allow you to top up credit directly to a mobile wallet.
Below are some examples of money transfer operators for Côte d’Ivoire:
- Small World
- Western Union
Today, many operators provide free calculators on their website so you can see exactly how much your loved ones will receive. This helps reduce the possibility of ‘hidden fees’. For example, a company may advertise a free transfer but your relative might receive less money because of a lower exchange rate (this is where providers ‘hide’ their actual costs).
Moreover, many tech-enabled companies offer free online comparison tools, enabling them to see pricing dynamics across several money transfer operators, all on one page. This being said, you may still have to run your own search since those comparison tool providers usually only compare the companies they work with as opposed to offering a true independent evaluation of all available options.
Sending health credits(instead of money) to loved ones in Côte d’Ivoire
One alternative to sending money is to send health credits with KimboCare, which allows you to purchase quality medical treatments and give instant access to your loved ones. With full transparency, enabled through its end-to-end digital platform, KimboCaremaywork out cheaper or easier depending on your needs and those of your loved ones, as itkeeps you away from losing money in your efforts to support family back home.
KimboCare’s platform is one example where you can pay healthcare bills directly. Users can purchase in advance those medical services, which are converted into ‘health credits’ then uploaded in their secure online account. These credits can be instantly used by family or friends to get quality medical treatments in Côte d’Ivoire.
No bank account or foreign exchange is required to receive these credits. They can also be topped up and used at any time. Another great advantage is that you can track exactly how your money is spent, which is quite rare with other solutions in the market today.
The steps to use KimboCare are as follows:
- Create your account.
- Top up your account with health credits, which will be stored and available to use as you go.
- Name a recipient to benefit from your health credits and to gain immediate access to care.
- Choose the facility and treatment.
- Your loved one in Côte d’Ivoire can access our highly competent medical partners (hospitals and pharmacies)without having to withdraw cash or make a transfer.
The complications and difficulties of sending money, as experienced by the founders of KimboCare, was the inspiration behind launching the venture in 2019. You can read the inspiring story here.
Bank wire transfers to Côte d’Ivoire
Banks largely missed financial opportunities by not developing better services. While cash has historically been a dominate payment option, banks did not invest well in developing a debit card system and cashless society.
Today, there are not many point-of-sale machines in shops, to the point that some people have never seen one. Cards also take a long time to issue (one to three months).
However, because banks are subject to more stringent checks and restrictions, they are still a safe way to send and store high amounts of money to use over time. The only limitation is that your recipient must have an account as well, which is not always an option for residents in Côte d’Ivoire.
Below are some of the main banks in Côte d'Ivoire:
- Association Professionnelle des Banques et Etablissements Financiers de Côte d’Ivoire (APBEF-CI)
- Bank of Africa Côte d'Ivoire (BOA-CI)
- Banque Atlantique Côte d'Ivoire (BACI)
- Banque de l'Habitat de Côte d'Ivoire (BHCI)
- Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l'Industrie de la Côte d'Ivoire (BICICI)
- Banque Malienne de Solidarité Côte d’Ivoire (BMS-CI)
- Banque Nationale d'Investissement (BNI)
- Bridge Bank Group Côte d'Ivoire (BBG-CI)
- Banque Sahélo-Saharienne pour l'Investissementet le Commerce (BSIC)
- Citibank Côte d'Ivoire
- Ecobank Côte d'Ivoire
- Société Générale de Banques en Côte d'Ivoire (SGBCI)
- Société Ivoirienne de Banque (SIB)
- Standard Chartered Bank Côte d'Ivoire (SC)
- United Bank for Africa (UBA)
- Versus Bank
However, banks typically do not offer the best exchange rate or the fastest service. Fees can add up to some 5%, whereas online exchange providers are around 1–3%.
Mobile banking and wallets
As discussed at the onset of this article, mobile banking is the dominant payment method in Côte d’Ivoire. Some international money transfer operators allow you to pay directly into a mobile wallet.
The main limitation is a daily maximum of 1.5 million CFA francs ($3,000). However, there are other benefits, such as being able to qualify for micro 30-day loans of up to 100,000 CFA francs ($200).
Some of the main mobile payment systems include:
- YUP (through Société Générale)
- Xpress (through Ecobank)
However, cash is still required for certain payments. In such cases, a mobile transfer may not be suitable depending on withdrawal fees. Some mobile wallets charge high fees to take money off their platforms. For example, PayPal charges some 5%, which is equal to a bank transfer fee.
Cash has historically been one of the main ways to pay for goods and services in Côte d’Ivoire.
Many money transfer companies allow cash pick-ups. Choosing a provider will depend on which banks or agents they work with that are close to the location of your friend or family. This is also the only option you can use if your loved one does not have a bank or mobile account. However, this is rare as many people have access to mobile banking.
Mobile payments and cash pick-ups are typically the most commonly used, and some may say easiest, ways to send money to Côte d’Ivoire, depending on what banking access your family and friends have. However, the most direct way to cover costs for a service such healthcare is to use the KimboCare’s platform, which allows you to save money on exchange rates and track how your money is being spent.