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Sending money to international chapters

I’m sending US$100 grants to some of the NetSquared chapters in Africa and Latin America to support their event expenses. I’m searching for the best (and cheapest) way to get it done. This was discussed at CLS 2013 by the Wordpress.org folks as I recall…

Wire Transfer
Waaay too expensive. Ack! We’re talking $20+

Relatively affordable, but sometimes a nightmare to deal with.

Visa Prepaid cards
This was suggested as a good approach at CLS13. Got any suggestions for a good source for buying international prepaid visa cards denominated in US$?

Other Approaches
Anyone else got some clever hacks or approaches? Bitcoin and the like seem way too high-barrier for my members…

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$4.50 for an international money order… all you need is an address to send it to and a debit/credit card to charge it to, and the time spent in the post office… https://www.usps.com/shop/money-orders.htm The only problem is, it is limited to the number of countries it can be sent to.

Dwolla is a little clumsy to set up but once it’s set up, it’s VERY cheap.


That’s a helpful remindr, but in this case I’m mostly sending to countries that don’t accept the postal money orders.

I’m distributing funds to: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya and Togo. :slight_smile:

Bitcoin? Bitcoin is gaining traction for international money transfer, especially to tech folks in the underserved developing world, for exactly this reason.

At OpenStack, we do payments to about 50 local user groups every year so they can have some cash to celebrate the birthday of the software. While the wisdom of this is still being discussed, it does mean we’ve garnered some experience at paying random people in the far reaches of the world.

The first discovery we made in the early days was that mandating a payment method caused problems - it became more hassle to deal with the exceptions than just asking in the first place. So, we made a form where we asked groups to select their payment method from: Paypal, SWIFT Transfer, Visa Gift Cards, BitCoin, Google Wallet & Other. Last year, we marked Paypal as our preferred option, since it’s the fastest to process from a time perspective, and very simple to provide details from the recipient perspective.

Two years ago, we had the following breakdown across 6 continents:

  • Wire Transfer: 11
  • Visa Gift Card: 12
  • Paypal: 13

For last year’s event, after we marked Paypal as preferred:

  • Wire Transfer: 9
  • Visa Gift Card: 4
  • Paypal: 37

We gave every group the same amount regardless of transfer fees they’d have to pay, so this indicates that some groups had a strong preference for Wire Transfers despite this. Sometimes this is because the group has been incorporated as a legal entity. Other times it’s because it’s simpler to subsequently use the money.

It seems like Visa Gift Cards and Paypal were both more or less doable by many groups, but once we expressed a preference people were happy to please us :smile:

Though, as hinted in the original post, the availability of Visa Gift Cards varies. Initially, we could get them from our local bank, but then they stopped offering them. It probably depends on your country, but a quick search found an alternate supplier. The Visa Gift Cards were invaluable in some South American countries in particular.

To keep the workload low and ensure we only had to ask for details once, we designed our request form (using google forms) to have a bit of conditional logic so it would request the correct details based on the payment method chosen.

Other things we required:

  • a public registration page, showing a ‘significant’ number of registrations
  • photos and videos of the event

This is probably for another post, but our next evolution related to this topic is our soon-to-be-launched online store. That’s going to let us give out codes for free swag to user group leaders so we don’t even need to have cash changing hands in some cases.

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Super helpful. Thanks for breaking down your numbers for us and reminding us of the power of preferences and default choices. :slight_smile:

In the end I went with a similar approach to your own, offering people three choices and stating my own preference.

Thanks to for being the kind sponsor for this forum!