As an American guy living abroad in Japan, sending money between the USA and Japan is something I'm used to dealing with. In fact I documented the various international money transfer methods I've used over the years here: How I Send Money Between my Japan and USA Bank Accounts - Life Abroad
Always on the hunt for what's new, I came across Xoom.com, a site operated by Paypal that appears very similar to my current favorite money transfer service Transferwise. What the hell...let's give it a shot. At the very least it would be beneficial to have an alternative on hand in case Transferwise ever fails me.
Oh, that's cool. Since Xoom is run by Paypal, you can just login with your Paypal credentials via the "Continue with Paypal" button. Nope. "Something went wrong." Try again. No go. Ok, fine. Let's just register a new account. Confirm email address by clicking the link we emailed you. Done.
Let's Setup a Transfer
How much do you want to transfer? Let's try a transfer from the USA to Japan. Register my recipient Japan bank account. Done. Register my sending USA bank account for ACH payment. Done. Transfer in process. Looking good so far.
Then I got an email from Xoom asking me to call them to verify my identity. Fair enough. Money transfer services require identity verification, so I'm used to providing any and all documents they require. I called the number, and a friendly woman with accented English soon answered. I mention the accented English because it did make it difficult to understand her at times.
She asked me several security-related questions, which I answered. Then she said she'll soon send me an email requesting 2 documents to verify my identity: a copy of a valid photo ID and the most recent bank statement from my sending bank account (the USA one). No problem.
The email arrived. Am I supposed to send these via plain email? That doesn't seem very secure, Paypal. I ask about that. Several hours later, no reply. Against my better judgement, I send the requested documents to them.
About an hour later I get another generic email saying they canceled my transfer because they were unable to verify my identity. Huh!? I gave you what you asked for! Then another email comes asking me to call them again. I do, but the call won't go through. I email them asking them to call me. No reply. After some troubleshooting, I figure that their buggy call routing system just doesn't work at this time of day. I decide to wait until the next morning when time zones better overlap. I was able to call them my morning, so I'll try again at that time.
In the meantime I login to the website to check my transfer, and it asks for my mobile phone number (which I had already provided during registration) to send a login code to. Oh, great. It only accepts USA-format numbers, so it doesn't work. So much for global service. I click the "I don't have a mobile phone" link, and it just logs me in anyways. LOL! Top-tier security.
You Just Can't Use Xoom
I call them the following morning and again a friendly woman with accented English answers. I explain that I was asked to call them again to verify my identity. She puts me on hold for a short while, then comes back saying that they simply can't verify my identity. It sounded vague and was undoubtedly recited verbatim from a script.
In short, I cannot use Xoom. For some unknown reason I was turned away as a customer, and apparently I'm not the only one that received this generic answer (look at the reviews). She couldn't state any reason why, saying "the specific reason may compromise our security practices." Hmmm...the same security practices that include sending documents via plain email and a buggy two-factor authentication system?
Get Off the Internet
Paypal is brainless for putting their name on this service. It really makes them look bad. Dear Xoom--get your act together or get off the Internet!
I get this question a lot: "I just moved to Japan and need to open a bank account. Which bank do you recommend?" While many Japanese people would likely recom...
Most often referred to in Japan as an MVNO, which stands for "mobile virtual network operator," the following is a potentially-growing list of SIM-only mobile p...