Escrow.com and Transferwise - a Match Not Made in Heaven
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Recently, we acquired a website in the 5-figure range. Fortunately, we were able to agree on a price pretty quickly with the seller. It was also agreed to go through Escrow.com, which seems to be almost a standard in selling domains and websites.
So far so good. I set up the transaction on Escrow and invited the seller. Now it was time to pay. In this price range, the only available payment option was a wire transfer. Since the purchase price had to be paid in US-Dollars I very quickly thought of Transferwise. Our business is based in Spain, that's why it would be very expensive to wire money to the US via a traditional bank.
Although Transferwise has worked very reliably for me in the past, Steve McLeod, a good friend, who recently carried out an acquisition himself, had already warned me that he wasn't able to fund his Escrow transaction via Transferwise.
Since I didn't really know of a better option, I gave it a try regardless. The good news is that Transferwise only charged me $1.40 in fees. The bad news is that the transfer did indeed fail.
Why is it not possible to fund an Escrow.com transaction via Transferwise?
Turns out Transferwise uses the ACH system for their payments. After a few emails back and forth with Escrow's support, I learned that they will accept nothing but SWIFT payments.
I didn't find any useful information on the web about this issue. It's also strange that Escrow doesn't immediately warn you when they hear you'll be using Transferwise.
Damn, I thought. What should I do now?
I checked with my Spanish bank (Santander). They do SWIFT payments but the fees they charge for this type of transaction are absurd; between 100-300€ for the transfer and roughly the same amount again as a "conversion fee". That's something you pay in order to access a really crappy exchange rate, which is the real cost and would have amounted to more than 1000€ in my case.
In my desperation, I had already pulled the trigger on the transfer when Santander told me that the amount was higher than the allowed daily transaction limit. Turns out I got lucky!
The solution: Azimo
Over the weekend I researched some more. Revolut also only does ACH transactions and my German bank would have charged less in fees but still much more than I was willing to swallow.
Eventually, I landed at Azimo.com. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. The website didn't really specify whether they do ACH or SWIFT, so I signed up with them. What I then saw made me very happy:
Azimo.com allows you to choose your desired method of transfer! On top of that, your first two transfers are free and they give you a fair exchange rate.
It took a little while to get verified. I had to submit my ID and proof of funds. They have live chat support, which was helpful but quite slow at times. But once everything was in place the money arrived the next day at Escrow.com! Azimo is definitely a service I would recommend.
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