The easiest ways to send money to family and friends in Senegal
There are several reasons why people send money to Senegal, although one of the main reasons is sending money to loved ones back home. Remittance payments to Senegal is exceptionally high, totaling around USD 2.5 billion per year and 10.5% of the country’s GDP.
However, one of the biggest challenges of sending money to Senegal is that only around 42% of adults have a formal bank account, including mobile accounts.
Some other challenges include the following:
- The biggest headache is getting a good exchange rate. Even if you’re sending the same amount of money each time, the actual amount your family receives can vary.For example,from 2021 to 2022, the rate of USD to CFA Franc jumped from around 500 Francs to 600 Francs.
- Even with a decent uptake of mobile banking in recent years, it is not often used for remittances. This is partly because cash is still required to pay for many services.
- Around half of the population lives in rural areas. Some 30% of the population does not have an ID and almost 60% does not have internet access. Without good digital access, your money transfer options may be restricted to what is available to your recipient in Senegal.
The best way to send money will ultimately depend on the individual factors related to your transfer. There are also alternative options to avoid these issues, such as paying for a service like education or healthcare.
KimboCare is one such service that allows you to pay for healthcare for family or friends in Senegal. Instead of sending money, you can upload money to an online account, which is sent to your loved ones as ‘health credits.’ They can swap these credits to get instant access to quality medical treatments. This is one example of how people can still cover costs for their familywithout being subject to poor exchange rates or high fees.We explain more here.
In this article, we compare the numerous ways you can send money to Senegal so you can evaluate which is the best option for your situation.
We also have detailed articles on how to send money to Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, and the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.
Currency in Senegal
Senegal is located in West Africa, which uses a common currency called the West African CFA Franc. It is issued by The Bank of Central African States and is also used in Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. The CFA Franc currency code is XOF.
Best ways to send money to Senegal
Below we summarize the various ways to send money.
- Easiest way to send money to Senegal: This will depend on what access to money services your family or friend has.
- Fastest way to send money to Senegal: Mobile wallets allow for instant transfers but lack of digital payments inside Senegal means your recipient may not be able to access the money straight away. As such, using a money transfer operator with a cash pick-up will likely be the fastest way.
- Cheapest way to send money to Senegal: money transfer and exchange services offer the best deals on exchange rates and fees. But make sure you calculate in withdrawal fees when choosing a service.
- Most secure way to send money to Senegal: Banks are usually the most secure way to send and store large sums of moneyto withdraw over time. But they are also usually the slowest and most expensive way to send money to Senegal.
- Alternative options to send money home: Instead of sending money, you can also pay for a service, such as education or healthcare. For example, KimboCare let’s you buy ‘health credits’ which can be used to directly cover medical bills in Senegal. No more exchange rates or hidden fees. We explain more here.
Legal requirements to send money to Senegal
Licensing for operators to receive remittances from abroad is governed by the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). Only banks, Bureau de Changes, microfinance institutions (MFIs), and post offices are eligible for this license. Other businesses then act as their sub-agents. Today, there are around 20 operators that transfer money to Senegal.
By law, most companies will ask you to verify your identify with an official ID, showing your name and date of birth. You may also be asked to include your address and disclose the reason for your transfer and the source of your money.
You will also need to supply your recipient’s bank account or payment details, plus their name and sometimes their address.
Choosing the best way to send money to Senegal
Your options to send money home to Senegal will depend on which financial operators are available to your family or friends and whether they require cash. If your loved one doesn’t have banking access, you can always choose to pay for medical treatments or education.
The second consideration is finding a money transfer company that works in both your country and Senegal. There are more providers to choose from if you are sending moneyfrom the US or UK to Senegal, but options become limited when sending from developing countries and currencies.
Below we evaluate several ways you can send money to Senegal to see which is the best option for your transfer type.
Cheapest way to send money to Senegal
Online foreign exchange operators usually provide the most competitive rates at mid-market value and affordable fees. Today, many are transparent with their fee structure but it is important to check all associated fees.
If you go to their websites, you can usually find a calculator to see what will be the exact amount of money your recipient gets in Senegal. This helps show ‘hidden’ costs, which typically are buried in a lower exchange rate. In this respect, a ‘free transfer’ might not end up being your cheapest option if the exchange rate is poor.
However, accessing money can be somewhat problematic if a withdrawal is required from a financial institution. However, as competition increases, withdrawal fees are going down.
Fastest way to send money to Senegal
Mobile wallets (ie. PayPal) are usually the fastest way to send money to Senegal but not always useful. While the money transfer is instant, there is a limited digital payment system within Senegal. Often, your recipient will still be required to withdraw this money from a bank or agent, which can be a high cost.
Otherwise, a fast option is to use aonline money transfer service. They can transfer money in a few minutes or hours with a cash pick-up option.
Easiest way to send money to Senegal
Ultimately, the ‘easiest’ method is subject to how your loved ones in Senegal can access their money.
If banking is limited, it may be easier to pay for bills or expenses instead. For example, with KimboCare you can pay for ‘health credits’ which can be instantly used at a range of quality medical providers. There is no need for a cash withdrawal and you don’t lose money on a poor exchange rate. This can reduce fees, while also giving you more transparency on where your remittance money goes.
Comparing the different ways to send money to Senegal
An online money transfer is usually the best choice to send money to Senegal because there are numerous payment options to make this suitable for many people. But there are some considerations.
Here we expand on the various ways to send money to Senegal to make sure you are choosing the best option for your transfer type.
Mobile banking and wallets in Senegal
This is a fast way to send money and usually low-cost if you both use the same mobile wallet. Mobile banking is a useful payment form in Senegal, although still only some 32% of adults have a mobile money account. Additionally, only 5% of remittances to Senegal end up in a mobile payment system.
This is partly because the digital payment system inside of Senegal isn’t adequately developed. Even if your family or friend has a digital account, they would still be required to withdraw cash to pay for mostgoods or services. Some companies charge high fees to withdraw money off their systems. For example, PayPal charges around 5% which ends up being the same price as a bank transfer.
Therefore, calculating withdrawal fees should be an important factor when choosing the best way to send money. There are around 40 operators in Senegal that are licensed to pay out international remittances (you can find them at the bottom of the page here).
There are several mobile payment systems in Senegal:
- Free Money
- Wizall Money
- Orange Money
Peer-to-peer savings circles (‘Tontines’) have also historically been popular, where people contribute money to a group and then take it back when needed. ‘MaTontine’ was introduced to digitize this system. On their software platform, members cannow conduct digital transactions with their mobile. This tracking system also allows users to build a credit score, which helps them qualify for small loans. This may become a useful way in the future to boost internal transactions with a mobile wallet.
Online money transfers to Senegal
There are just over 20 companies offering international money transfers to Senegal. Some have extensive global networks and can offer competitive fees and foreign exchange to the West African Franc.
Below is a list of money transfer operators servicing Senegal:
- BancoPosta (Italitan Post)
- Boss Revolution
- La Banque Postale (France)
- Small World
- TapTap Send
- Transfer Remittance
- Western Union
- World Remit
- Xpress Money
Finding the best service takes a little bit of work. It helps to use an online comparison tool or calculator to see exactly how much your loved one will get. For example, a ‘free transfer’ can be a misleading benefit if the exchange rate is low.Some other comparison websites include: exiap, FromTo.money and moneytransfers.com.
When comparing services, you need to consider the:
- Transfer fee
- Exchange rate
- Withdrawal fee
- Processing time
- Any restrictions, such as maximum or minimum transfer amounts or a daily limit
- Customer support services and policies for cancellations or refunds
Sending health credits
In situations where your family might not have access to banking services or withdrawal fees are high, you could pay for bills instead. A common method is to pay for healthcare, medical insurance, and education.
The hassles of sending money were the inspiration for creating KimboCare (you can read their story here). Instead of dealing with exchange rates or hidden fees, your money istransferred into ‘health credits.’ These credits can be used to instantly pay for quality medical services in Senegal. This allows you to still help your family and friends in Senegal without the complicated process of sending money.
Bank wire transfers
Bank wire transfers are one of the most secure ways to send and store money in Senegal.
This is especially true if you are sending a large amount of money or your relative doesn’t want to take it all out at once, which is not an option for cash pick-ups. However, the banking system is not readily accessible, with only around 5.5 ATMs per 100,000 people.
Compared to other ways to send money to Senegal, some drawbacks include:
- Banks don’t typically offer the best exchange rate
- Transfer fees are usually higher, up to 5% of the transfer amount
- Banks are subject to stricter regulations and the extra level of revision can lengthen the transfer time
- Bank are affected by limited operating hours and time zones.
- Some banks also have daily withdrawal limits.
Below is a list of commercial banks in Senegal:
- Attijariwafa Bank
- Bank of Africa Sénégal
- Banque Agricole
- Banque Atlantique Sénégal
- Banque de Dakar (BDK)
- Banque de l'Habitat du Sénégal
- Banque des Institutions Mutualistes d'Afrique de l'Ouest
- Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l'Industrie du Sénégal (BICIS)
- Banque Islamique du Sénégal
- Banque Régionale de Solidarité
- Banque Régionale des Marchés
- Banque Sahélo-Saharienne pour l'Investissement et le Commerce (BSSIC)
- Banque Sénégalo-Tunisienne
- Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole du Sénégal (CNCAS)
- Central Bank of West African States
- Citibank Sénégal
- Compagnie Bancaire de l'Afrique Occidentale
- Crédit Lyonnais Sénégal
- Ecobank Sénégal
- International Commercial Bank
- Société Générale de Banques au Sénégal (SG-BS)
- United Bank for Africa
Today, many online transfer operators allow you to arrange a cash pick-up. This may be your only option if your family member or friend doesn’t have a financial account. Your recipient can collect money at your chosen location with just an ID and the transfer reference number. Sometimes they can receive cash in a matter of minutes or hours.
Send healthcare to Senegal instead of money
If you want to send health credits instead of money, KimboCare only requires you to:
- Register your account with an email
- Upload money to your account, which is converted into ‘health credits.’
- Enter the name of your loved one in Senegal as shown on their ID.
- Your family member or friends can use their health credits to get instant treatment at our network of medical providers.
In short, in a country where financial inclusion is low, sending money to Senegal poses more challenges than normal. In such situations, paying for healthcare or other bills can be one of the easiest ways to financially support your friends or family in Senegal.