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What is an EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer)?

Updated on November 30, 2023 10:05 am
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Electronic funds transfer (EFT) is one of the commonly used methods to send money nowadays. There are various ways of making an electronic fund transfer. It includes more than online ACH transfers or wire transfers.

EFT payments have become an essential part of our daily lives. From online shopping to paying bills, transferring money electronically has revolutionized how we handle financial transactions.

So, EFT is a term you've probably come across and most likely have sent money by EFT but what does it really mean?

In this blog, we discuss what is an EFT, different types of EFT payments, how ETFs work and its key components, benefits, and drawbacks so that you can make a wise decision on which is best for your transfer needs.

What is an Electronic Fund Transfer?

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), is a digital transfer of money through an online payment system, either between banks or people. EFT payments can be done within the same bank, or between banks.

As the money transfers are all digital, there is no need for physical currency or paper checks. Because of this, EFT payments are far quicker and more accessible than other methods of sending money.

As the traditional paper-intensive processes become more digitized, EFTs will continue to grow and evolve.

The Key Components of EFT Payments

To fully grasp how an EFT works, it's essential to understand its key components. These include:

Sender or Originator

The party or individual who initiates the electronic funds transfer. This could be a person sending money to a friend or a business paying its employees.

Receiver

The recipient of the funds receives the electronic transfer in their account. This could be an individual or a company.

Financial Institutions

Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions play a crucial role in facilitating EFT. They serve as intermediaries that help process and complete the electronic transactions.

Electronic Channels

EFT transactions can occur through various electronic channels, including online banking, mobile apps, point-of-sale terminals, and ATMs.

Payment Systems

Payment systems are the networks and protocols that enable electronic funds transfers. Some well-known payment systems include ACH (Automated Clearing House), SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), and card payment networks like Visa and MasterCard.

Types of Electronic Funds Transfers

There are several different types of Electronic Funds Transfers, each designed for specific purposes. Here are some of the most common types:

Direct Deposits

This is a common form of electronic funds transfer where funds are deposited directly into a bank account. For example, direct deposit from the employer's bank account to to employee's bank account.

This EFT uses an electronic funds transfer network called the automatic clearing house (ACH). The money can be transferred instantly and automatically into the receiver's bank account.

The ACH system is also used for recurring payments, such as utility bills, mortgage payments, and subscription services.

Wire Transfers

Wire transfers involve the immediate funds transfer between two banks, often used for high-value or international transactions. The electronic transfers are handled by a network of financial institutions such as the Fedwire Funds Service, Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS) in the U.S. for domestic wire transfers, or the SWIFT network or IBAN for international payments.

Debit and Credit Card Transactions

When you use your debit or credit card for a purchase, you're essentially conducting an EFT transaction. The funds are electronically transferred from your account to the merchant's account.

The cards feature 16-digit numbers across the front, along with the expiration date and the cardholder's name. Both cards are used either by swiping through a reader, but the more common methods are the chip and PIN or contactless technology.

Mobile Payments

Mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay allow you to make electronic payments using your smartphone. To make a contactless payment, you hold your smartphone up to a reader like you would a credit or debit card.

Bank ATM (Automated Teller Machine)

Bank ATM transactions are EFT payments that use Internet banking to move money electronically between bank accounts, deposit money, or withdraw cash. The bank-issued debit or credit card and PIN are used to make the ATM transaction. Although ATM fees are common, they are usually waived if you use an ATM that is owned and operated by the same bank that holds your bank account.

How Long Does an EFT Take?

EFTs are typically far speedier than any paper-based option. However, there are different types and transfer times vary.

For example, certain mobile payments, and peer-to-peer payments are settled instantly. Domestic automated clearing house transactions are completed the following business day.

It can take as little as one minute for a domestic wire transfer initiated using a non-bank money transfer service and destined for an account at the same financial institution. Whereas it can take three to five days for an international wire transfer to clear.

What is the Cost of EFT?

The cost of an electronic funds transfer varies depending on the type of transfer you select and the total amount of money you wish to send.

If you own a company and need to pay an employee's salary, using direct deposits is a cost-free option for you to consider. Or you can use a debit card or a smartphone to make a contactless payment in stores without incurring any transaction fees.

Benefits of EFT Payments

EFT provides several advantages, both for individuals and businesses.

  • Speed: EFTs are much faster than traditional paper-based methods. Money transfers are instant, making them ideal for urgent transactions.
  • Convenience: EFTs allow you to initiate and receive transactions from the comfort of your home or anywhere with an internet connection. You don't need to visit banks or handle checks manually.
  • Security: EFTs are generally more secure than paper-based ones. Banks and payment service providers employ encryption, multi-factor authentication, and real-time fraud detection systems to safeguard electronic transactions.
  • Cost-effective: EFTs are less expensive for both individuals and businesses. You can save money on postage, check printing, and transportation costs associated with paper checks.
  • 24/7 Availability: EFT systems are available 24/7, allowing you to make transactions at any time.

Drawbacks of EFTs

  • International wire transfers, which are a type of EFT, can be costly considering there are charges for sending and receiving money, including correspondent bank fees, and other penalties, such as investigation fees, in the event that the wire transfer is misplaced.
  • Wire transfers are irreversible once sent. Any funds that were sent to the wrong person by mistake or at the request of a fraudster cannot be recovered.
  • EFTs are vulnerable to fraud, hacking, and identity theft. It's essential to take precautions to protect your financial information. This includes regularly monitoring your accounts, using strong and unique passwords, and being cautious about sharing your financial details online.

What is the Electronic Fund Transfer Act? (EFTA)

The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) is a federal law in the US enacted in 1978 to protect individual consumers engaging in EFTs.

Guidelines and responsibilities for consumers and banks to address errors are included in the EFTA. Customers have the choice to dispute and correct inaccuracies without incurring financial penalties.

In accordance with the act, banks are also required to give customers specific details on how to reduce their liability in the event that their card is lost or stolen.

In light of the growing preference for electronic transfers over paper checks, customers required reassurance regarding the security of their money. This led to the development of new regulations that would enable users to safely utilize electronic fund transfer services.

Alternative Money Transfer Options

If you are looking to transfer money overseas, there are specialized money transfer providers offering EFT services that offer overall better experiences in terms of costs, speed, convenience, and efficiency.

Instarem

Instarem offers seamless cross-border money transfers to more than 55 countries via its network of more than 8000 banks worldwide, with competitive exchange rates and low fees. Their user-friendly platform ensures swift and secure transactions for individuals and businesses alike.

Wise

Wise revolutionizes international transfers by providing transparency, real exchange rates, and minimal fees. Users can trust Wise for cost-effective and efficient cross-border transactions. Additionally, Wise offers a multicurrency account that lets you keep more than 50 different currencies and convert them at an affordable rate.

Remitly

Remitly focuses on fast and affordable money transfers, catering to the needs of expatriates and those supporting loved ones abroad. Remitly provides two-speed options for money transfers: Express ensures immediate delivery with higher fees while Economy delivers funds in 3 to 5 business days.

XE

XE is a trusted currency converter and money transfer platform, providing real-time exchange rates and tools for individuals and businesses to make informed financial decisions in the global market. It offers international money transfers in 139 currencies to over 220 countries and territories.

Pandaremit

Pandaremit stands out for its user-friendly interface and competitive rates in the remittance market. It's a reliable choice for individuals seeking convenient and efficient international money transfers. Transfers can be completed in as little as 2 minutes, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures a full refund if expectations aren't met.

Abound

Abound, previously named Times Club and affiliated with the Times of India group, serves as a rewards and remittance app tailored for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). Abound enables the transfer of funds from the U.S. to India with attractive exchange rates, providing cashback and rewards. You get competitive exchange rates and no transfer fees when sending money to over 130 Indian banks from the U.S.

Pomelo

Pomelo introduces a fresh approach to seamless money transfers from the U.S. to the Philippines, integrating consumer credit with international remittance services. It offers a Family plan for global credit sharing, delivering individual cards within 10 days. Users can send money now, pay later at zero APR, and control card balances monthly at a competitive USD to PHP exchange rate.

SBIC

For fast money transfers from the United States to India, consider SBIC (State Bank of India-California), a subsidiary of India's State Bank of India. As a full-service bank with multiple California branches, SBIC provides various financial solutions and international services. Key features include zero-cost transfers to any Indian bank within hours, competitive USD to INR exchange rates, and flexible transfer options through the SBIC Mobile App, online, or in-person.

Placid

Placid offers a comprehensive platform for international money transfers, focusing on speed and security. It streamlines currency exchange across 25+ countries through direct affiliations with various banks. It ensures rapid transfers, allowing recipients to receive funds directly in their bank accounts or through convenient cash pickup at local agents. Notably, their spotCash! service distinguishes itself with speed, simplicity, and convenience for recipients.

PassTo

Passto stands out for its commitment to providing cost-effective and reliable international money transfer services. It caters to expats in the UK, offering a mid-market exchange rate and transparent fees, facilitating money transfers to 60 countries and real-time airtime top-ups to 150+ countries. Users can PassTo Plus Points with each transfer, which is redeemable for fee discounts on future transactions.

Conclusion

Electronic Funds Transfer has revolutionized the way we handle financial transactions, providing convenience, speed, and security. EFTs continue to evolve as technology advances. The future of EFT holds the promise of even greater convenience and efficiency.

As we have discussed in the blog, there are various specialized services for a seamless and efficient global money transfer. Explore these options to make informed decisions based on your specific transfer needs.

To compare your options for international money transfers, use CompareRemit's comparison tool and find a provider that best fits your money transfer needs!

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Be aware of such potential fees.Employers have certain responsibilities to educate employees about the usage of paycards.Limited range of services and flexibility in managing your funds compared to bank accounts and other prepaid cards.The best paycards programs are easy to set up, have lower fees, quick access to funds, and provide a range of benefits such as cashback and discounts. We have made a list of popular paycards providers for businesses:Wisely Paycard by ADPOnline portal and mobile appCompatible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google PayZero cost sign upNo hidden feesNo credit checkNo overdraft feeZero cost direct deposit of pay and other sources of income (including government benefits)Accepted wherever Visa is acceptedKeep track of spending and account balances 24/7 on the appGet cash back at major retailersSurcharge-free ATM withdrawalsFDIC insuredSecurity features include instant card lock, purchase protection, and travel alert notificationsRapid PaycardDirect Deposit onto rapid paycardLoad funds from approved checks with Ingo Money mobile appsNo fee for cashing paycheck24/7 account access with rapid! Access mobile appNo credit checkCan be used at ATMs, merchants worldwide, wherever Debit Mastercard or Visa debit cards are acceptedPay bills and make purchasesBook airline and hotel reservations onlineEarn interest on savings accountGet cash back rewardsFDIC insuredMoney protected with Zero Fraud LiabilityKittrell PaycardNo fees to use (there are fees for certain situations)Fee-free ATM network with MoneyPassWebsite and Kittreall AppGet real-time alerts and push notificationsCash back at point-of-sale terminals2-way texting to manage your card and accountCompatible with Apple Wallet, Google Pay, Samsung PayEasy portability (Get direct deposit of stimulus checks, tax refund, benefits)Freeze or unfreeze card on-demandSkylight PaycardZero sign up feeNo credit checkNo minimum balance Personalized your card with a family photo or unique imageManage money anywhere on Mobile AppDirect deposit your government benefits, tax refundsUse anywhere where Visa Debit & Debit Mastercard are acceptedFDIC insuredZero liability protectionPay bills onlineEarn interest on savings accountEarn cash back with Payback RewardsSend money to or receive money from friends and family with Netspend cardsSet text alerts about transactionsRefer a friend and boost your card balanceSkylight overdraft limit is $100 & 3 times/ monthConclusionOverall, paycards can be convenient and cost-effective for employees and employees when compared to paychecks or for those employees with no bank account. And the paycard fees are becoming more transparent and competitive.While paycards can be challenging at times, especially when you are employed in multiple jobs and have a separate paycard with each employer, your funds are scattered in multiple cards so it becomes difficult to manage your finances. Some may prefer to put all their money in one place, like a checking account.However, if you can't open a bank account, a paycard is a great option to get paid. Read the fine prints before signing up for a paycard and know the potential fees that come with it.

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