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Benchmarking Mobile Remittance Apps #3: Customer service and other UX features

Consumer behaviour is increasingly shifting towards the convenience of mobile applications for remittance. We explore additional user experience features around the money transfer process

Benchmarking Mobile Remittance Apps #3: Customer service and other UX features

This is our third report in the remittance apps benchmarking series.

In the first part, we compared the different user journeys of registering to remittance mobile apps and completing a money transfer. In the second report, we continued with the same six providers and explored payment-related features and the costs incurred for money transfers.

In this final part of the series, we will explore additional user experience features around the money transfer process, including customer service, notifications and tracking, card-scanning, address lookups and best practice examples and areas of improvement.

Below are the providers we benchmark. They were chosen based on their market-leading positions and ability to remit money to France, the destination of our money transfers, via the mobile applications.

  • MoneyGram
  • Ria
  • Western Union
  • Wise
  • WorldRemit
  • Xoom

Contents:

Looking for parts one and two?

Benchmarking Mobile Remittance Apps #1: The registration journey and making the first transfer
Benchmarking Mobile Remittance Apps #2: Payment features, speed and costs

Methodology

To carry out this exercise, a member of our team registered and processed money transfers as a new customer with six remittance providers.

All benchmarking was carried out solely through mobile applications, hence company websites were not used as a comparison factor in any of the sections.

The data gathered is based on actual money transfers of £10 transferred from the UK to France (GBP to EUR) through the six providers listed above. All mobile applications were downloaded from the iOS App Store UK.

The main elements measured in this report are:

  • Customer service – what features are supported on the mobile apps and which are directed to the website (FAQs, instant chat, email address, phone number).
  • Notification trackers – emails confirming the transfer details and progress updates; app or text notifications informing of the status of the transfer, in-app tracking.
  • Card-scanning feature – the ability to scan a credit/debit card at checkout and automatically input the relevant information.
  • Global address lookup – whether mobile apps support this feature which generates address suggestions based on user input.
  • Best practice and areas for improvement that we have encountered throughout this analysis.

Key takeaways

Key takeaways from the report

Customer service and other UX features

In this report, we explore additional UX features that are not fundamental in the process of signing up and transferring money, but users may still encounter along the way. The features explored in this report are:

  • Customer service
  • Notification trackers
  • Card-scanning
  • Global address lookup

In the last section, we also highlight some best practice examples, as well as some issues we have faced throughout the benchmarking journey.

What customer service features are available in-app?

While not mandatory for the completion of money transfers, customer service is a key aspect for most companies.

With regards to financial matters in particular, customers are generally more scrupulous and are likely to want to know if, and how, they would be able to get in touch with the company should they have any concerns.

In this analysis, we looked at four main customer service features and whether they are available natively in the app (preferred) or whether users are redirected to the website.

These features are:

  • FAQs
  • Phone support – whether a phone number was displayed in the app.
  • Email address – whether an email address was displayed in the app.
  • Instant chat – whether users can start a conversation with an agent through the app.

Table 1 presents a comparison of the features mentioned above.

Table 1

In-app customer service features

In-app customer service features

Western Union provides the highest variety of customer service features – users are able to find the email address, phone number or browse through FAQs, all within the app.

Wise and Ria provide two options for contacting their support teams through the app. Wise provides a phone number and thorough FAQs with detailed information to reach their customer service support.

MoneyGram, WorldRemit and Wise are the only ones in the group to offer an instant chat feature.

MoneyGram allows users to get in touch with an agent right away, however, WorldRemit customers have to go through a virtual assistant first, which points to the FAQs and then directs users to an online agent.

WorldRemit additionally requires users to enter the full name, email address, and transaction number to start the chat even though that information is already associated with the account being used – a step that marginally delays the process.

MoneyGram requires the name, phone number, and email address but this information is already pre-populated in the fields, allowing users to start the chat right away.

WorldRemit and MoneyGram's live chat functionality

The most common feature across the board is FAQs – all except Ria offer this type of guidance. However, WorldRemit, MoneyGram, and Xoom redirect users to their respective website pages instead of offering it within the app. While users are still able to access the necessary information, in-app features provide a more convenient and seamless way to access it.

Out of all the apps that feature FAQs, Wise stood out the most. It covers answers to a wide range of issues customers may face. Additionally, these answers offer links to relevant articles for further information and some contain additional features such as the mid-market rate tracker and alerts, illustrated in the screenshot opposite.

An FAQ page

Notification trackers – at what stages in the transfer process are users notified?

Money transfer providers generally keep customers updated with regards to the progress of their transfers. This can be via various channels such as emails, texts or app notifications.

Additionally, users can also check the status of the transfer themselves, through the in-app tracking feature.

Table 2 shows how users are notified by different providers.

Table 2

Transfer notifications and tracking

Transfer notifications and tracking

Most companies send an initial email to confirm the transfer details and later follow up with additional emails to update customers that transfers are “on the way” or that the money has arrived in the recipient’s bank account.

It is worth differentiating between these two types of notifications; when the “money has arrived” the recipient can already access it, however when “money is on the way” or “with our local partner”, it usually indicates that the transfer has been processed by the remittance company but it hasn’t necessarily arrived in the bank account. The recipient bank may take additional steps and time to clear the transfers.

All except Western Union sent an email confirming the details of the transfer. Such details include the total amount sent, the amount to be received, the FX rate, and the expected delivery date. Ria and WorldRemit did not indicate the FX rates in their email confirmations.

Four of the providers sent follow-up emails with updates regarding the transfers. However, only Xoom and Wise confirmed when the money was available in the recipient’s bank account. For Xoom this was an additional email, while for Wise one single email confirmed the transfer and that it was immediately available in the bank account.

In-app tracking

As shown in Table 2, all providers have some elements of in-app tracking. The screenshots below illustrate how this is implemented by the six groups we compare.

WorldRemit and Wise stood out the most. WorldRemit presents a timeline of the transfer with a convenient summary, bank deposit details, and recipient details options available immediately below, on the same tracker page.

Similarly, Wise has a user-friendly toggle between ‘updates’ and ‘details’ of the transfer on the same page (for example, money sent, fee, exchange rate).

MoneyGram presents the tracking updates in a ‘receipt’ format rather than a timeline. Together with Western Union, these are the only two providers requiring some tracking information to see the progress of the transfer – a reference number and surname for MoneyGram, and a tracking number for Western Union.

The latter is particularly inconvenient as users have to go to the history section of the app to manually write down the number then type it in the tracking field as it doesn’t allow users to copy and paste it.

The timelines provide a guideline but are not always informative of when the money is actually available in the recipient account. For example, similar to the emails and texts, notifications as ‘paid out’ don’t necessarily mean the money is in the recipient’s bank account yet – this is an indication that it has been processed but it may be some time before it arrives in the account.

For Xoom, the final step in the timeline indicates ‘transaction completed’ at 12:50pm, even though the money was already available in the recipient’s account two hours before. Ria, Western Union, MoneyGram, and WorldRemit don’t notify when the money is available in the recipient’s account.

Remittance apps tracking timelines

Remittance apps tracking timelines

Do providers offer card-scanning features?

From the moment of the app download to the final step of completing a transfer there is a significant amount of information that users are required to fill out. When there are fields that automate an element of this process this creates an effortless experience for the user. One such feature that we have come across is the card-scan feature.

The card-scan is an element offered by some providers for customers wishing to pay with a credit or debit card for their money transfers.

At the payment stage when users are required to submit card information, this feature allows them to scan the card using the phone’s camera which then automatically fills out the card number and the expiration date in the respective fields. This makes for a speedier process than manually entering long-digit numbers. Below is an example of how this feature is implemented.

An example of card scanning

Based on our research, half of the providers in this group facilitate the card-scan feature in their mobile applications, namely Ria, Western Union, and Xoom.

For Ria and Western Union this feature automatically scans the card number as well as the expiration date. For Xoom, it only scans the card number.

Wise and WorldRemit don’t have card scanning abilities but they support ApplePay which allows users to pay via a debit or credit card without having to enter any details at all.

Table 3

Card-scan feature: Card number and expiry date autofill

Card-scan feature: Card number and expiry date autofill

Global address lookup

Another feature that speeds up and simplifies the user experience is the global address lookup. When users are required to fill out their address, this feature helps automatically populate the fields with suggestions based on some initial user input.

Throughout the journey of registering and making a transfer, users are prompted to input an address at least once, and twice in some cases – their own residential address and, for some, the recipient’s address. Table 4 opposite summarises which providers support this feature.

Table 4

Global address lookup: Availability of autofill or address suggestions for sender address fields and recipient address fields

Global address lookup: Availability of autofill or address suggestions for sender address fields and recipient address fields

MoneyGram and WorldRemit are the only two providers supporting global address lookup. This is illustrated in the screenshots below. For MoneyGram, the form which is powered by Google gives suggestions when the user starts typing in the home address, and fills automatically the rest of the information.

For WorldRemit, users search the address in the allocated field. However, neither provider supports this feature for the receiver’s address as users have to manually enter it. Notably, WorldRemit only requires the city name, not the full address of the recipient.

Ria similarly presents an address search field for the sender address, however, it doesn’t provide any suggestions.

Xoom, similar to Wise and Western Union, does not support global address lookup and the postcode field is particularly demanding as it has to fit an exact format (i.e. with a space between the two parts of the postcode and no spaces at the end of the postcode).

Address lookup and formats

Address lookup and formats

Best practice and areas for improvement

In this section, we present some elements that stood out throughout our benchmarking journey. This includes:

  • Password tips
  • Western Union’s quick tips
  • Xoom’ reload feature
  • Wise’s price comparison and debit cards
  • Unsaved passwords
  • Phone number formats
  • Ria’s ID error
  • Western Union’s transfer confirmation

Best practice

1. Password tips

During the signup stage, users are required to create a password for their account. Most of the remittance mobile apps have a useful feature that displays the password requirements on the same page that are gradually ticked off as the user enters the password.

If the password isn’t strong enough, users can immediately spot which criterion their password doesn’t fit. For example, in the case for MoneyGram the password is missing ‘at least 1 number’ which is the only criterion not ticked off.

Western Union, Wise, MoneyGram and Ria provide this feature. WorldRemit displays its password criteria but does not indicate which parts have been met.

Password criteria

2. Quick tips: a Western Union feature

Western Union presents new users with brief instructions to familiarise themselves with the layout of the application.

Western Union's quick tips feature

3. Mobile reloads for people abroad: a Xoom feature

Xoom offers users an additional feature of sending airtime to friends and family abroad, just by entering the recipient’s phone number.

Xoom's mobile reloads for people abroad

4. Price comparison and debit cards: a Wise feature

Wise has a unique feature displaying a comparison of the different amounts the recipient would get if the same sum is transferred through its competitors, even if these turn out to be more competitive.

In addition to its money transfer services, Wise provides debit cards that allow customers to spend anywhere in the world and automatically convert the money into local currencies.

Xoom's mobile reloads for people abroad

Areas for improvement

1. Unsaved passwords: MoneyGram and Ria

While a fundamental feature for most mobile apps, MoneyGram and Ria don’t save users’ passwords. This can be an inconvenience particularly when users need to log in several times to check the progress of their transfer, confirm the details, etc.

Unsaved passwords: MoneyGram and Ria

2. Phone number formats: WorldRemit

Most providers don’t require users to fill out the recipient’s phone number, however, WorldRemit and Xoom are the exceptions. WorldRemit especially stands out as the phone number entered must be from the country of the transfer, in this case France. The country code is automatically entered and is impossible to change, unless the country of the transfer is changed too. This can be an issue for people who have a bank account in one country but reside in a different country, for example.

Additionally, while confirming the phone number, the app logged out without saving any of the details and the transfer had to be restarted.

For MoneyGram, the country code is also automatically filled out but this field is optional.

Phone number formats: WorldRemit

3. Ria’s ID error

Ria is one of the two providers in our group requiring a form of ID to be uploaded. After filling out the transfer details, users are presented with the screen below. It indicates that the ID has expired and prompts users to update it, even though it is the first time the new user is asked to provide one.

Furthermore, this stage takes place quite far along the process – after recipient and payment details have been confirmed – which seems misplaced as most providers ask for sender information earlier in the process.

Ria's ID error

4. Western Union transfer confirmation bug

During one of the test transfers, the Western Union app incurred a formatting error which displayed part of the coding script instead of the confirmation text, and indicated that the transfer was incomplete even though it had been processed.

Western Union transfer confirmation bug

Conclusion

This report brings to attention additional user experience features that users might come across while using a money transfer application. Specifically, it explores which customer service features are supported by mobile apps, how users are notified of the progress of the transfer (and how they can track it), and which providers facilitate global address lookups to assist in the user journey. In the last section, it also highlights examples of best practice and areas for improvements that we have encountered throughout the benchmarking journey.

It follows on from the two previous reports, and is the last of this benchmarking series. The first report, “The registration journey and making the first transfer” measures how long it takes to make a transfer, what information is required, and whether users are able to verify fees and FX-rates pre-signup. The second, “Payment features, speed, and costs”, compares the cost of transfers, how long it takes for funds to arrive in the recipient bank account, pay-in and pay-out features, and which providers support card-scanning features.

One of the findings in this report is how users can get in touch with the customer service teams. Western Union supports the highest variety of customer service features when compared to its peers – this includes phone support, emails and FAQs. However, MoneyGram and WorldRemit are the only ones in the group offering instant chat support.

Providers generally keep customers updated with regards to the progress of their transfers. All providers except one have a timeline allowing users to track the transfers in-app. It is worth noting the difference between the transfer being ‘paid out’ and the transfer being complete. Often, ‘paid out’ is the last stage of the transfer, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean the money is available in the recipient account. The recipient bank may take additional steps and time to clear the transfers.

Comparing the card-scanning feature, we found that half of the providers’ mobile apps facilitate this. The card-scan allows users paying with a credit or debit card to scan the card at checkout using the phone’s camera which then automatically fills out the relevant fields and speeds up the process.

With regards to the global address lookup, only MoneyGram and WorldRemit support this within their apps. This is a useful feature as it simplifies the user experience when customers are prompted to input an address, at least once or twice throughout the money transfer journey.

Lastly, we present several features that stood out in our journey of benchmarking the mobile apps. This includes useful password tips which point to the specific criteria users have to meet; Western Union’s quick tips familiarising users with the app; Xoom’s mobile reloads which allows customers to send airtime abroad and Wise’s price comparison feature, which shows how a specific transfer ranks against its competitors.

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