The Gambia is the smallest nation on the African mainland. It is also amongst the continent’s most densely populated countries. Given that this narrow strip of land falls on both sides of the Gambia River, agriculture and fisheries play important roles in its economy, so does tourism.
The total merchandise trade between these two nations during 2014-2015 stood at $84,000, which included imports and exports.
Australia’s exports of services to The Gambia during the same period touched the $1 million mark.
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Lamin Dibba came to Australia as a student. After he completed his college education, he found a suitable job that let him remain in Australia. Since his parents continue living in The Gambia, he wishes to start sending them some money. He figures he can afford sending around $1,000 once every couple of months.
The Australian bank he has an account with does not carry out fund transfers to The Gambia, given its exotic currency. Lamin turns online to compare money transfer companies, and this is what he finds.
Money transfer service 1
Money transfer service 2
$1 = GMD26.5109
$1 = GMD27.42305
Amount received for $1,000
While the second money transfer company charges a fee for its services, it results in Lamin’s father getting more money.
Since his father lives close to a cash pickup centre, choosing to go with it seems like an obvious choice. Going forward, Lamin intends comparing his options before each transfer.
How do I compare transfer companies when transferring and receiving money via The Gambia?
Since there are numerous money transfer companies to choose from, it is important that you compare them across different parameters.
The monetary aspect. Some service providers lure customers by offering highly competitive exchange rates or fee-free services. This can be a problem if a high fee accompanies a seemingly favourable rate, or if you get an unfavourable rate while not paying any fees. A simple way to pick the more lucrative option is to compare how much money the recipient stands to receive.
Ways to send money. If you’re bank permits fund transfers to The Gambia, you can start the process in person, online or over the phone. Some money transfer companies operate out of stores and kiosks that you can visit to send money in person. Most let you carry out online transfers and some let you initiate the process over the phone as well.
Ways to receive money. Some prominent money transfer companies that provide money transfer services to The Gambia from Australia only offer cash pickup as an option. However, you can find some international money transfer companies that let you transfer funds directly into Gambian bank accounts.
Methods. If you wish to send money to The Gambia regularly, you can benefit by working with a company that lets you schedule automatic transfers based on a frequency of your liking. This takes away the need to go through the entire process repeatedly. Some money transfer companies also offer forward contracts and market orders.
Turnaround time. If you’re sending money that the recipient will collect from a cash pickup centre, the transfer can go through almost immediately. If you’re sending money to a Gambian bank account, money transfer companies can take one to three days to complete the process. Banks tend to take longer.
Minimum limit. Some money transfer companies have minimum limits in place, which can vary from $500 to $1,000.
Customer service. Customer service levels of a money transfer company can play an important role, especially if you plan to send money periodically. Ideally, you should be able to contact a company representative over the phone and via chat, and not just via email.
You can send money to The Gambia from Australia in different ways.
Banks. If your bank lets you send money to The Gambia you can consider transferring funds directly into the recipient’s bank account. This can be possible even if you have an account with an overseas bank that provides online access. Alternatively, you can consider sending bank-issued drafts, cheques or money orders via mail.
Non-banks. Money transfer companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram have several cash pickup centres in The Gambia. You can use their services to send money to any of their centres. Some money transfer companies let you transfer funds to Gambian bank accounts as well. Another option is to use the services of PayPal. If you wish to take this route, both you and the recipient should have PayPal accounts.
How do I receive money from The Gambia in Australia?
Receiving money from The Gambia in Australia presents multiple options.
Banks. If you provide the recipient with your Australian bank account details, you can receive the funds directly in your account. The sender can initiate the transfer using the services of a bank or a money transfer company. You can also get the sender to mail you a cheque, money order or draft.
Non-banks. If you wish to receive cash in person, using the services of a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram is an option, given that both have a considerable presence across Australia. You can also consider using the services of PayPal, provided you and the sender have PayPal accounts. Opening a PayPal account takes little time and does not cost any money.
If you end up losing your wallet when you’re in The Gambia, make sure you report your credit and debit cards as lost or stolen immediately. You can think then about getting some emergency money in different ways.
Cash pickup. An easy way to get emergency money is to ask a friend or family member to send you some using the services of a money transfer company. Simply identify an easily accessible cash pickup centre and pass the details to the sender.
Cash advance using credit card. If you have an existing American Express, Visa or Mastercard credit card, you can think about getting a cash advance even if you don’t have the credit card with you. You can do this by approaching a local participating financial institution.
Travel insurance. Getting the right kind of travel insurance can work to your benefit in different circumstances. It can give you emergency money to deal with unexpected medical expenses, flight delays and cancellations as well as lost and misplaced luggage.
Western Union and MoneyGram have a number of cash pickup centres in The Gambia. When visiting any of these centres to collect cash, take a reference number and a valid form of ID such as your passport or driver’s license with you. If you plan on collecting a large sum, call the centre in advance to confirm availability of funds. Here are some Western Union and MoneyGram cash pickup location in The Gambia.
AMJ Bureau De Change London CornerSerrekunda +220-7606790 Open 8am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday
AMM Bureau Serekunda WestfieldBanjul +220-4399470 Open 8am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday
AMJ Bureau De Change Bakau Cape PointBakau +220-3151010 Open 8am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday
Bank PHB Gambia Cape St. Mary RoadBakau +220-225289 Open 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday Closed on Saturday and Sunday
AMJ Bureau De Change Serrkunda MallSerekunda +220-3990366 Open 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday Closed on Sunday
AMJ Bureau De Change Serrekunda Modoujang StreetSerekunda +220-3990366Open 7am to 10pm,Monday to Saturday Closed on Sunday
Samba Tako Forex Bureau Sait Maty RoadBakau +220-4396858 Open 8am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday
Bayba Financial Services Ltd Trust Bank BuildingSait Matty RoadBakau +220-4394505 Open 7am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday
When you’re in The Gambia you should lookout for suspicious behaviour, as you would normally do in Australia. There have been instances of crime against tourists, which include muggings at beaches after dark as well as theft from hotel rooms and vehicles. Passport thefts are not uncommon.
Remain watchful of pickpockets on ferries and in crowded market areas. Don’t carry large sums of money or jewellery to the beach.
Bear in mind that this country still remains a largely cash-based economy. ATMs in The Gambia can be unreliable. Not all hotels accept traveller’s cheques.
What are the steps to send money to The Gambia?
The steps you have to follow and the details you have to provide depend on the method you choose.
To a bank account. You’ll have to provide details such as the recipient’s name, account number, bank’s name and bank’s SWIFT code. If sending money through a money transfer company, you’ll have to provide details of your bank account, debit card or credit card. The time the transfer takes to complete depends on the service provider you choose. You should get a reference number when you initiate the transfer, using which you can track its progress at any stage.
To a cash pickup centre. You’ll have to provide the recipient’s name as well as a desired cash pickup centre. To make the payment, you’ll have to provide your bank account, debit card or credit card details. Once you initiate the transfer you get a reference number. Pass this to the recipient. The transfer should take place almost instantly.
Relationships with the Gambia
The Australian Government provides scholarships to some Gambians, which the Gambian government duly appreciates. These two nations are also looking at collaborating significantly in the realm of agriculture, with Australia also keen to assist in the development of mining within The Gambia.
Shirley Liu is Finder's global program manager. She was previously the publisher for banking and investments and has also written comparisons for energy, money transfers, Uber Eats and many other topics. Shirley has a Master of Commerce and a Bachelor of Media, Journalism and Communications from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about helping people find the best deal for their needs.
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