Published on
April 13, 2023

Telegraphic Transfer (TT) vs Wire Transfer: Are They the Same?

min read

Key Takeaways

  • A wire transfer is an electronic transfer of money from one bank account to another, either domestically or internationally.
  • A telegraphic transfer is an older form of wire transfer that is still used in some countries.
  • Both wire transfers and telegraphic transfers are useful for individuals or businesses who need to make international transactions quickly and securely.


According to the World Bank, global remittances reached a record high of $630 billion USD in 2022. These remittances were sent through money transfer operators, which included wire transfers and telegraphic transfers.

Both types of transfers are commonly used by individuals and businesses to send funds across borders quickly and securely. They are often used for large amounts of money and are meant for individuals and businesses who need to transfer funds internationally. The purpose of using these specified transfers varies, ranging from paying for business expenses to sending money to family members who live in other countries.

In this article, we will explain to you the differences between telegraphic transfer and wire transfer.

What is a telegraphic transfer (TT)?

In the 19th century, civilisation relied on telegraphs to send and receive messages over long distances. Telegraph operators would receive and transmit financial messages, including requests for funds transfers. Eventually, the term "telegraphic transfer" was coined to refer to the process of transferring funds electronically via telegraph.

With the advent of new technologies, such as telephone and computer networks, the process of sending funds electronically too evolved. Today, TTs have largely evolved into wire transfers, which use more modern communication technologies to transfer funds electronically.

How does a TT work?

  1. The sender provides the bank with the recipient's name, bank account number, the recipient’s bank name and address, and the amount to be sent.
  2. The sender's bank sends the transfer instructions to an intermediary bank in the recipient's country, which acts as a middleman between the sender’s and the recipient’s bank.
  3. The intermediary bank verifies the recipient's account details and forwards the transfer instructions to the recipient's bank.
  4. The recipient's bank receives the transfer instructions and credits the funds to the recipient's account.
  5. The sender and recipient may be notified of the transfer's progress through various means, such as email or text messages.
  6. The process typically takes 2-5 business days to complete, depending on the banks involved and any regulatory requirements.
  7. Fees may apply for TTs, depending on the amount being transferred and the countries involved.

It's important to keep in mind that these steps are general and may vary depending on the banks or financial institutions involved in the transfer.

What is the role of SWIFT in a TT?

SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is a messaging network used by banks and financial institutions worldwide to exchange financial messages and transfer funds. When it comes to TT, the SWIFT¹ network acts as the communication tool between the banks involved. This provides a secure and standardised way to exchange transfer instructions and verify the recipient's bank account details.

When a sender initiates a TT, their bank sends the transfer instructions to the recipient's bank via the SWIFT network, which ensures that the message is securely delivered and the funds are transferred to the correct account. SWIFT also provides transparency throughout the transfer process, allowing the sender and recipient to track the progress of the transfer and receive a confirmation once the funds have been credited to the recipient's account.


💡Read more: SWIFT Payment Tracking Explained

What is a wire transfer?

A wire transfer is a method of electronic funds transfer that allows funds to be sent from one bank account to another, either domestically or internationally.

Unlike a TT, which definitely uses an intermediary bank to facilitate the transfer, wire transfers may be sent directly from the sender's bank to the recipient's bank. Wire transfers are a popular method for large or urgent transactions, such as real estate purchases or business payments, as they can be completed quickly and securely.

Here are some key differences between domestic and international wire transfers.

Domestic wire transfer:

  • The transfer is sent between two banks within the same country.
  • The transfer is typically completed within the same business day.
  • Fees for domestic wire transfers are relatively lower than international wire transfers.
  • Some examples of domestic wire transfer networks are FAST (Singapore), IMPS (India) and Fedwire (the US).

International wire transfer:

  • The transfer is sent between two banks in different countries.
  • The transfer may take several business days to complete, depending on the countries involved and any regulatory requirements.
  • Fees for international wire transfers may be higher than domestic wire transfers, due to additional fees and exchange rate costs.
  • An example of an international wire transfer network would be SWIFT.


💡Read more: SWIFT vs Local Transfer: Which One is Better?

How does a wire transfer work?

  1. The sender provides the bank with the recipient's bank account information, the amount to be transferred, and any other relevant information.
  2. The sender's bank sends the transfer instructions directly to the recipient's bank via a secure messaging network such as the SWIFT network.
  3. The recipient's bank verifies the account information and credits the funds to the recipient's account.
  4. Wire transfers are typically completed within the same business day for domestic transfers, while international wire transfers may take several business days due to additional processing and regulatory requirements.
  5. Fees may apply for wire transfers, depending on the amount being transferred, the banks involved, and any intermediary banks used.

Overall, wire transfers offer a secure way to transfer funds electronically, whether domestically or internationally.

One should note that the messaging network used would depend on whether the transfer is domestic or international and on the needs and preferences of the banks involved.

For instance, the Federal Reserve Wire Network, also known as Fedwire, will often be used as the messaging network for domestic wire transfers in the US. Fedwire is operated by the Federal Reserve Banks and provides a secure and reliable means for banks and financial institutions to transfer funds between each other.

What are the fees for TT and wire transfer?

In terms of costs, both wire transfer and TT come with fees that can vary depending on several factors. Here's a breakdown of the fees associated with each method.

TT tends to have higher exchange rate margins/markups in general, which can result in higher costs for the sender and/or recipient. On the other hand, wire transfers typically have lower exchange rate margins/markups, which can make them a more cost-effective option for international transfers.

There may be additional fees associated with each method that is not included in the table. For instance, some banks may charge a flat fee for sending or receiving a wire transfer or TT, while others may charge a percentage-based fee.

Additionally, the fees for each method may vary depending on the currency being transferred and the amount being sent. Ultimately, before you make a transfer, it is crucial for you to review the fees associated with each method and choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.


💡Read more: International Bank Transfers: Fees and Charges You Should Be Aware Of

Choosing the right type of transfer

TT and wire transfer are two methods of transferring money electronically, with wire transfer being the more modern version of TT.

While wire transfer and TT share similarities, they have different procedures and fees, and the choice between the two will depend on various factors, such as the amount of money being transferred, the destination country, and the urgency of the transfer. TT can be considered as a wire transfer but a wire transfer is not necessarily a TT. Wallex supports money transfers² via the SWIFT network.

When it comes to alternatives, there are several options available, including digital payment platforms and online money transfer services. Ultimately, the choice of which method to use depends on the specific needs of the sender and recipient, as well as the level of security and assurance required.

² Wallex enables customers to perform SWIFT transfers via our network of banking partners.

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