What is a Telegraphic Transfer?

Officially, a telegraphic transfer, or TT, was a means to move money between accounts using a cable, radio, or get this, a transoceanic telephone. The term originates from when people used to move money using telex: sending printed messages by cable. No one does that anymore. Now, the term is often used synonymously with ‘money transfer’, ‘wire transfer’ or ‘SWIFT transfer’ (even though SWIFT originated as a different system).  


Before the standardisation of the SWIFT network, telegraphic transfers were the only option for transferring funds internationally. However, if you see the term ‘telegraphic transfers’ today, you should assume people are talking about any range of bank-to-bank money transfers, many of which use the SWIFT system. These days, the term ‘telegraphic transfer’ has different meanings at different banks and in different countries.


At times, a telegraphic transfer may refer to the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) method of payment.

A Real Time Gross Settlement is as close to an instant bank transfer as you can get. Whereas normal SWIFT requests are usually bulked and sent by banks at certain pre-established times of the day, RTGS transfers are expedited on an individual basis. You can order an expedited payment with OFX for a small fee, but these expedited payments may be limited to certain currencies. In such cases, OFX delivers your funds within two hours (although the funds may arrive within five minutes).

A ‘TT’ is an abbreviation for telegraphic transfer. Telegraphic transfers worked well for many years, but certain pressures, demands, and changes helped spur the rise of SWIFT to become the international standard. As mentioned above, most people use the term ‘telegraphic transfer’ interchangeably with ‘money transfer’. From here on in, that’s how we’ll be using the term.

telegraphic transfer

Telegraphic Transfer Advantages

Telegraphic transfers using RTGS are not processed in large batches; they are often facilitated by hand. The funds are generally available to the recipient much more quickly. Depending on the efficiency of the banking system in the recipient's country, telegraphic transfers using RTGS may take one business day or less.


At this point, the SWIFT system is an old one. It began in 1973. SWIFT transfers can often take up to three days to complete, as banks tend to process them in large batches at set intervals, rather than immediately as each individual one is received.

telelgraphic transfer

Telegraphic Transfer Fees

Telegraphic transfer fees will vary depending on your TT provider. While a bank may charge you up to $30 to make an international money transfer, they also charge a markup of up to 5% on the exchange rate they give you. That means on a transfer of $10,000, you could end up paying $500, plus the fee for the service (plus any fees charged by the recipient bank to accept the funds--often another $15-$30.) At OFX, we think that’s too much.


We charge no fees on regular money transfers over $10,000, and our margin is a fraction of what you’d pay at your bank. Because we process your transfer using local banking networks, your money often arrives sooner to major markets.



How Secure are Telegraphic Transfers?

Telegraphic transfers or wire transfers are a safe way of sending funds whether you use a bank or a provider like OFX. The risk in sending money this way comes from the fact that this is the preferred method of payment for scammers. Scammers love telegraphic transfers because the money moves so fast, and once it’s in their account, you have almost no recourse to get it back. That’s why you should never send money to someone who first contacted you via the internet or email. Read more about warning signs for wire transfer fraud.


For your own peace of mind, OFX is regulated by over 50 regulators worldwide. We’re a listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and we employ a dedicated fraud risk prevention team. We offer fast, reliable telegraphic transfers 24/7.


What Documents Do You Need to Make a Telegraphic Transfer?

At OFX, we use electronic verification (EV) to make it as easy as possible to make a money transfer with us. Our EV systems use government and credit reporting registries to confirm your identity. If you’ve moved recently or we can’t confirm your identity electronically, we may ask for a proof of identity document, like a passport, and proof of address. Why do we need to know so much about you? These are regulatory requirements to prevent fraud and money laundering. If a money transfer provider doesn’t ask you for such information, they probably aren’t meeting compliance standards

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