I have written about ways that Malaysians who are stranded overseas is able to receive money in my previous article, . How about if you are a foreigner who is currently in Malaysia (and even Singapore) and unable to return?
In my opinion, the best (cost efficient) and fastest way for a foreigner to receive money in Malaysia is via Western Union. Western Union agents are available widely in Malaysia:
- Many local banks in Malaysia such as Maybank, RHB, Bank Simpanan National, Public Bank and Hong Leong Bank provide Western Union services (sending and receiving). However some may not have the services available in all their branches- you need to check at their official website or perform inquiry at their branch. Also, if they have the service, there would be the standard yellow logo of Western Union being displayed outside the branch.
- Pos Malaysia (selected pos office branches in Malaysia).
- Agents like money changers and NS Cashpoint.
How you can arrange for money to be sent to you via Western Union?
- You can arrange for someone to have the money remitted to you via Western Union in your home country and then you collect from Malaysia.
- If you have online banking and your bank has the option for Western Union transfer, you can initiate the transfer to yourself for your own collection. Your registered mobile number in your home country for the online transfer should be available for you to receive some kind of verification code in order for you to complete the transfer.
- Check the service charges before initiating the charges as their service charge varies from country to country. If the charge is too expensive, maybe you may wish to try alternative like Moneygram (less agents available compared to WU) or withdraw directly using your ATM/Debit Card (please don’t withdraw cash from credit card because you get a steep one time charge and daily interest)
- For Western Union remittance, you also need to keep in mind that collection is country specific. That means if the sender indicate the country of collection is Malaysia, and you go to Thailand, your MTCN (money transfer control number issued by WU) will not be recognized. Trust me, I have tried it and it did not work.
Information that you need to provide to the sender when initiating the funds:
- Your full name as per passport
- The address/hotel that you are staying in Malaysia
- Your birthday
- Sender’s relationship with you
- Reason of sending the money
Information you need to provide to Western Union agents when collecting your money:
- The MTCN (money transfer control number) which is issued by automatically by WU system upon successful transaction
- The amount (either in the sender’s currency or the receiving currency)- this amount is specified during the sending process
- Full name of sender
- Address of the sender
- Contact number of the sender
- Reason for receiving the funds (ie pay for medical bills, for living expenses)
- Relationship with the sender (eg friends, family member, employee)
- Preferable to get sender to send over the receipt of the transfer in case the agent ask for it (usually the sender will receive a slip from the agent or an email if initiating the transfer via online)
My recommended collection agent for Western Union in Malaysia
How I got familiar with Western Union is because I am a blogger and monetize my site via display ads by Google (ya sorry, I know you may find the ads annoying but it helps me cover hosting and living expenses). The mode of collection was via Western Union so I’ve had my trial and error with collecting money via Western Union in Malaysia. Through trial and error of collecting from different WU agent, I’ve settled for NS Cashpoint.
But eventually I have changed my Adsense collection mode to wire transfer. Still, I hope the information would be useful to you.
Just for sharing, let me share about my trials and errors with Western Union agents in Malaysia. Do note that the hiccups happened a few years ago. I am sure with the pandemic and increase in online transfer, agents are now very familiar with the service.
My past journey with Western Union collection:
The first few times, I did not know where to go to collect my Adsense income. So I went to our local bank with the Western Union sign to attempt to collect via Western Union. I am sure things have changed now but a few years ago, banks were relatively unfamiliar with Western Union system (they had to offer this service but don’t know how to use it). So I will get feedback like:
- Erm sorry, the Western Union system is offline.
- And then I went back few times, still offline.
- Tried other banks, also offline
Once, at a bank, two of the staff asked me for tips on how I managed to earn money via Google after they see the payee was Google. I did not think it was a professional thing to do and I was not even their bank account holder.
Then I started going to Pos Malaysia (local post office) to collect my Western Union. I must give credit to Pos Malaysia- their staff is more professional and their system do not go ‘offline’ as much. Still, not all post office branches offer Western Union. Even if they do, not all is familiar with the system. You gotta trial and error until you find a branch who is familiar with handling the WU system. Because I noticed only more senior staff is familiar with the system.
After that, I tried to collect directly from Western Union authorised agents. I came upon NS Cashpoint by chance once at a shopping mall and decided to try my luck collecting through them. Their staff is really professional. They do not throw me curious glances or ask me how I got my money. I just fill up a form, pass them my NRIC and they will process immediately. No personal questions asked and strange looks.
Western Union transactions are one of their main bread and butter. During the beginning, I did ask one of their staff if the Western Union is always offline because the bank claimed it was offline. The staff chuckled and say, nope, WU system is usually not offline but dunno why the banks always say that. I guess the banks are not familiar with the system but I am sure it is changing especially for bank branches located near popular tourist areas.
NS Cashpoint is also opened on Saturdays. I think on Sundays too if you go to the ones located at the shopping malls. which was better for me since on weekends I could find someone to relief me of my caregiving duties. Sometimes the WU system does go offline for a while but so far it happened only once via NS Cashpoint.
What made me decided to switch to wire transfer was because one time, I happened to be in Thailand after Google issued the payment. So, armed with my MTCN number, I went to one of the WU agent in Thailand to collect my funds but the staff could not find it in their record. It was then I learned that if you specified to Google in your WU collection that it is in Malaysia, then the collection is valid only for Malaysia. You cannot collect it from another country. After that, coupled with the one time I drove all the way only to encounter system down, I decided to try to set to wire transfer. The unpaid WU got credited back to my Adsense account and after I switched to credit my account, the next month the money was credited straight to my account.
I hope the above information is helpful if you are a foreigner who is in Malaysia and unable to return due to the pandemic. While you are in the country, do take time to enjoy our local dishes and visit nearby places (not necessary the touristy spots).