Lao PDR, or more widely known as Laos, is a lower to middle-income economy and boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the East Asia and Pacific area.
The country offers a diverse amount of opportunities and in its population alone is an example of this with its 49 broad ethnic groups and 4 linguistic groups.
Australia and Laos have longstanding economic ties that especially focus on deepening community relationships and development cooperation.
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Due to its powerful existing relations, local Laos students are encouraged to take the opportunity of studying abroad in Australia. Ailani is one of these students and decided to go and study in Australia.
Now, as a successful young working woman, Ailani wants to pay back some of the study loans she had to take out through her years of study and also invest into her parents lives. She does a study of all the money transfer companies available to transfer money back to Vientiane in Laos and draws up the table below using 1,000 AUD.
|Money transfer company A||Money transfer company B|
|Exchange rate−||1 AUD = 5,662.8130 LAK||1 AUD = 5,804.79024 LAK|
|Transfer fee||25 AUD||10 AUD|
|Amount of LAK received in Laos for 1,000 AUD||5,662,813.00 LAK||5,804,790.24 LAK|
|Transfer time||10 minutes||2-4 days|
|Transfer options||Phone, online account, agent||Online, phone, mobile app|
|Difference in LAK||141,977.24 LAK||141,977.24 LAK|
How should you compare transfer companies when transferring money between Lao PDR and Australia?
- Exchange Rates. Bear in mind that currency exchange is only legal at official bank branches. Some of the companies will offer a more competitive exchange rate but might require an actual phone call with a call centre to book a rate.
- Pickup Methods. Some companies, like Moneygram, can only send a USD amount which will be picked up at an agent location and will still need to be exchanged legally as mentioned above. Western Union sends the cash pickup in the LAK. Receiving the money in a bank account is also an option.
- Fees. The fees can in some instances vary quite a bit, depending on the type of transfer service used and whether it is above or below certain minimum and maximum amounts. Generally speaking, as above, the marginal increase in fees is justified by the short amount of transfer time.
- Bank to Bank Benefits. Money transfer services are available through local banks in Laos and in Australia, but both will require a call or visit to a branch to determine rates and fees.
- Turnaround Time. The turnaround time for available companies ranges between a couple of minutes and five days. Anything longer than that is not worth paying for compared to what competition offers.
- Transfer Methods. Ailani can either choose a local agent she is comfortable with or set up an online account with regular payments. If she’s hasty and needs someone else to the admin, she can easily phone support and do a payment.
- Transfer Options. These include recurring payments, spot contracts, and once-off payments.
- Minimum/Maximum Transfer Amounts. The available options offer freedom in having a wide variety of minimum and maximum amounts.
- Customer Service. The services to be used in sending money all offer phone and email support. A physical bank branch might yield the fastest results if Ailani hits a snag somewhere in her payments.
What are your options to send money to Lao PDR from Australia?
- Money transfer services - The money transfer companies that can send money to Laos are Compass Global Markets, Moneygram, Western Union, and WorldFirst Foreign Exchange. Moneygram and Western Union have a long history of international money transfers and are especially able in sending cash for pickup within minutes. Compass Global Markets offers competitive exchange rates and WorldFirst Foreign Exchange brings out weekly updates on market exchange rates.
- Banks - There a couple of Australian banks that will allow you to send money to Laos. These include ANZ and Citibank. Visit a local branch to determine the available currency options and costs involved.
How can you receive money from Lao PDR in Australia?
- Money transfer services - Moneygram and Western Union will both allow a person to send money from a local agent in Laos to Australia for cash pickup or to a bank account.
- Banks - Although Citibank and ANZ list branch locations in Laos, support for sending money to Australia needs to be verified at the branches.
Safe ways to send emergency cash transfers to Laos
Ailani might not need to live in a weekly fear that there will be emergency cash situations as she keeps a constant flow of sending money over to Laos, but one should always be prepared. She has found in her research that Moneygram and Western Union both offer emergency cash transfers to Laos in multiple locations. Below are locations for some of the bigger areas in Laos.Back to top
Cash pickup locations in Lao PDR when using Western Union and Moneygram
- Lao Development Bank
Chanthabouly, Muang Chanthaboury District
Vientiane Capital, Vientiane Capital 2700
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 3:30pm,
Saturday and Sunday, closed
- Acleda Thongkhankhan Service Unit
Thongkhankham Village, Chanthabouly
Vientiane, Vientiane 856
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday, closed
- Meexay Market Pakse Service Un
Pakse Champasak, Champasak
Monday to Sunday, 8:30am to 5pm
- Joint Development Bank
410 Unit 30 Thatluangkang
Monday to Sunday, 8:30am to 4:30pm
Thatluang Kang Village
Saysettha, Vientiane Capital
Monday to Sunday, 7am to 6pm
- Bcel - CPS
Lukmuang Village Champasak Province,
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm,
Saturday and Sunday, 12pm to 12M
Tips for picking up cash in Lao PDR
With some transactions, the actual amount received will not necessarily be received in the native currency of Laos. It is advised to make a note that any currency exchange can only happen at an official bank outlet.
Timing is also important in Laos and most money transfer services won’t offer services after 5pm. This means that Ailani and her parents will need to time the trips well with workdays to visit an agent location before it closes - or before available currency runs out!
Always take along something to carry the money in that doesn’t scream to everyone around you the obvious fact that you have fats amount of cash. Carry the cash in a way that fits into your normal day in life, for example, an envelope in your briefcase.
What are the steps to send money to Lao PDR?
When sending money to a recipient in Laos
- You will need the full details of the recipient and as an extra measure, photo ID
- The agent location
- Amount and currency that you would like to send
- In some cases, you will first need to register an account (especially with an online transfer method)
When you send or receive money to a bank account
- The full bank name and also very importantly, the BIC / SWIFT or the alternative the local banks require to receive international money
- The bank account number and branch number
- Recipient details
- The correct amount and currency
What do you need to pick up cash?
- Your photo ID, or government form of ID
- The tracking or reference number of the money transfer
- For added safety, have a copy of the transaction receipt and the details of the sender
Economic growth in Laos
Australia business parties have a history of investing in the rich natural resources that Laos offers. Even though it has shown strong Real GDP growth that has averaged above 8% since 2009, Laos still relies heavily on economic donor support as a Least Developed Country according to worldwide classification.
Australia supports the Lao PDR and supported its bid to join the World Trade Organisation. Australia is Laos’ 8th highest source of exports with a focus on merchandise trade that comes in at a total between the two of A$38 million.
The trade in services between the two have average at A$33 million and there has been protected relationships between Laos and Australia to cultivate investments in the Laos mining sector.
According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Australia and Laos are parties to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) which entered into force on 1 January 2010 in Australia and 1 January 2011 in Laos.
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