More U.S. banks provide ATM-based money transfers to Mexico

May 4, 2003

NEW YORK -- Two more American financial institutions have introduced money transfer services that allow users to transfer funds to Mexico and other countries via ATMs.

According to a news release, Citibank's Global Transfers will allow the bank's North America customers to transfer funds between two Citibank accounts in the U.S., or between a Citibank account in the U.S. and a Banamex account in Mexico or a Citibank account  in over a dozen countries.

The service can be initiated at most Citibank ATMs or with the Citibank Online banking service.

Citibank believes it will be of special interest to customers of Mexican descent living in the U.S. who wish to remit funds to friends or family members in Mexico, both because of the large amount of money transferred between the two countries -- $10.5 billion in 2002, according to the Inter-American Development Bank -- and because of Citibank's strong connection to Banamex, Mexico's largest bank.

Citigroup, Citibank's parent company, in 2001 purchased Banamex for $12.5 billion. (See related story Citigroup makes major Mexican play)

Citibank customers in the U.S. can remit funds to a Banamex account, where it will be instantly available. If the recipient does not have a Banamex account, he or she will still be able to collect the funds in cash at any of more than 1,400 Banamex branches in Mexico.

Citibank, like many other financial institutions, accepts the Mexican Consular ID when opening accounts in the U.S.

At either a Citibank ATM or Citibank Online, customers select the "Transfer or Payment" option on the screen, choose the location where they want to send the money from a list of participating Citibank locations, input the amount to be sent and the account number of the receiving account. The funds are then instantly transferred to the receiving account, according to the release.

The customer will know exactly how much will be credited to the receiving account before finalizing the transaction. Customers have the option of entering the U.S. dollar amount to be sent or the foreign currency amount to be received. They also have the option of sending a typed message with the transfer.

During an introductory, promotional period through the end of May, Citibank will collect no transfer fee for Citibank Global Transfers originating in the U.S. Foreign exchange rates, priced at approximately 2 percent commission over wholesale bank foreign exchange rates, will apply.

Following the promotional period, the transaction fee for each transfer domestically and to Mexico will be a flat $5; fees to other countries will be $10. The same foreign exchange rates will apply, according to the release.

In addition to Mexico, transfers from the U.S. are available to Citibank accounts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, the UK, Greece, Jersey, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy, Luxembourg and India.

U.S. Bank launched a similar ATM card-based service, called Secure Money Transfer, in Sacramento, Calif., and Denver on April 28.

According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, it allows individuals to send up to $1,000 per transfer to Mexico for a fee as low as $10 -- or $15 for those without U.S. Bank accounts. Customers will need a driver's license, state-issued identification or a matricula consular identification from a Mexican consulate to use the service.

Previously, wire transfers at U.S. Bank have cost $25 per transaction. Third-party companies such as Western Union charge as much as $50 for a $1,000 fund transfer.

U.S. Bank said that throughout May it will offer the first transfer free in honor of Cinco de Mayo. The bank expects many consumers to send money to Mexico on a recurring basis, said Alice Perez, the bank's Latino market leader.

Perez said consumers can transfer money to Mexico via U.S. Bank by "loading" a card with a specified value either at an ATM or at a bank branch. The card is shipped to a designated recipient in Mexico for use with a password at any of Visa's 20,000 Plus network ATMs.

The card can then be used to continue to draw funds sent from the U.S.

Recipients get one ATM transaction free a month, with a 2 percent transfer fee charged for additional withdrawals. Transfers are limited to $2,000 per month.

The program will be expanded throughout the bank's 24-state operations later this year, according to the Bee.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo are among other U.S. banks offering ATM-based remittance services to Mexico.

Topics: ATM Innovation , Bank / Credit Union

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