Olivia Chow of finder.com writes about why World First shines as Most Convenient in the finder Money Transfer Awards. 

In the Empire City, the number of rides made by iconic yellow cabs continues to slide, with March 2017 numbers down 15% compared to the same time last year. Meanwhile, Uber rides grew by 121% from April 2015 to April 2016, according to Morgan Stanley data shared by Recode.

This quick shift from the arm-raised hail to the arm-down finger tap is a testament to the power of convenience, what with the ability of Uber users to choose the quality of their vehicle, play their Spotify and know when and where they’ll have a car available.

But I wasn’t asked to write this article to ramble about Uber. As lead researcher of the finder.com Money Transfer Awards 2017 and finder.com’s consumer trends expert, I want to explain why we created a Most Convenient award and how World First succeeded in taking it home. A personal finance comparison site, finder.com is interested in empowering our readers choose money transfer providers that makes sense for their specific circumstances — which involves identifying factors for them to consider.

If convenience matters when taking a trip across town, then it certainly applies when sending money across the world. From a short list of 35 providers, we narrowed down 13 final contenders to test for convenience. We sent live transfers, verified information through site testing and measured usability through UserTesting.com.

Among the results: World First scored Most Convenient, demonstrating how much they understand users’ needs today. Here are the top three ways that World First shines in Most Convenient.

  1. World First offers more options to schedule payments.

The ability to schedule future payments is key for regular senders, who know when they need to make their next transfer. Cell phone, utility and Netflix bills allow for automatic payments, so why not apply this convenience to international payments? Doing so not only saves users time but also ensures they don’t miss a payment. Among our finalists, only one other provider offers this option.

Notably, World First was the only finalist to provide features that permit users to lock in their desired rates for scheduled payments. Through forward contracts, users can arrange with a broker to lock in exchange rates for payments up to three years in the future. Alternately, limit orders allow users to specify an ideal exchange rate (target rate); when the market reaches that rate, that rate is locked in to complete the transfer. For those who budget or just want to take advantage of an appealing exchange rate later on, these useful tools could potentially save thousands of dollars in the long run.

  1. World First’s online application makes it easy to sign up.

Recognizing the importance of convenience, we included in the finder.com Money Transfer Awards only online money transfers providers and eliminated from the final round providers that required calling a representative or emailing documents after online signup.

World First isn’t the only vendor in the market to offer rate locks and forward contracts, but they were the only one to let users take advantage of these tools without an extended application process. To be clear, World First called us after we completed our online transfer to verify information, but they initiated this communication shortly after we applied.

Other providers in our pool required us to call them, commonly resulting in time on hold and requests for documentation. Some providers kept the process online through email but still required multiple rounds of correspondence to complete signup. “Know your customer” guidelines are important for compliance, reducing money laundering and thwarting terrorism. But because competitors are finding ways to simplify the onboarding process, we eliminated these extended applications from the final round.

  1. World First is available across the US and online in 56 countries and territories.

We spent three months evaluating the money transfer market and its features, and we know too well that searching for the right provider is a headache. So for the digital nomads, jet-setters and business folk who send transfers to multiple countries or travel state to state, it’s paramount that a service is a one-stop shop.

Availability in all 50 states is not a given: More than half of our finalists were not available in all states. Further, states in which services are offered is not always clearly advertised — users often must search within FAQs or attempt a transfer before learning these limitations. (That’s always fun.) Even when sending transfers from a heavily populated city like New York, we had to check state availability and search for provider by destination of funds.

World First’s online transfer coverage in 56 countries and territories is nearly twice as many as covered by our average finalist — 30 to 39 countries and territories. To highlight convenience, we counted only transfers that we could complete entirely online from a bank account or by debit or credit card to a recipient’s bank account.

In cross-border payments, World First's variety of options and coverage are a powerful combination.Click To Tweet

The potent impact of convenience

Experts have debated the meaning, measurement and application of convenience since 1958, when Eugene Kelley published The Importance of Convenience in Consumer Purchasing. Back then the advent of the centralized shopping center was what spurred Kelley’s observation. Everything in one place. Today, each Christmas season sees buyer shifts from brick and mortar retailers to Amazon with market mover Warren Buffett dropping most of his Walmart stock from his portfolio in February of this year.

Convenience is not just a “nice-to-have” but winning in this area disrupts industries. In the cross-border payment industry, World First addresses convenience with online signup, the ability to schedule payments and wide state, country and territory coverage. As we become an increasingly global world, World Firsts’ variety of options and coverage is a powerful combination. Its finder.com Money Transfer Award for Most Convenient is well deserved.

Olivia Chow is consumer trends expert at finder.com and lead researcher for the finder.com Money Transfer Awards. Specializing in prescriptive consumer and trend research, she was a founding member of the Hanesbrands Inc. Global Trend and Innovation Team, has consulted for the New York Times, and writes for VICE and Intel’s Creators Project.