Payset prespective
April 4, 2024

Telegraphic Transfer vs Wire Transfer: Understanding the Differences and Similarities

Telegraphic transfers (TT) and wire transfers are essential tools in the realm of international finance, providing a secure and efficient route for the movement of funds across borders. Despite their origins in distinct technologies, the modern usage of these terms often overlaps, with both methods using digital networks for fast and safe transactions. An understanding of the variances in terminology across jurisdictions and the specifics of different financial institutions is key in choosing the best method for money transfer needs.

Definitions and Key Differences

What Is a Telegraphic Transfer?

A telegraphic transfer (commonly referred to as TT), is a method of electronically transmitting funds from one bank to another. Telegraphic transfers originated in the era of telegraphs, where messages containing payment instructions were sent through cables, radio, or telephone systems. Though the technology has evolved, the name has stuck—in today’s world, telegraphic transfers use modern banking systems and networks such as SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) for secure and efficient global transactions.

What Is a Wire Transfer?

A wire transfer uses messaging networks to move funds between financial institutions, whether within the same country or internationally. Wire transfers evolved from traditional telegraphic transfers and are now built on advanced telecommunication technologies to move money in a faster and more streamlined way than traditional methods could accomplish.

Similarities Between Telegraphic and Wire Transfers

Telegraphic and wire transfers are similar in many ways:

Electronic Funds Transfer: Both TT and wire transfers are forms of electronic funds transfer (EFT), using digital communication channels to execute transactions between banks or financial institutions.

Global Transactions: Both are widely used for international transactions, allowing for the transfer of funds between different countries and banking systems.

Speed: Compared to traditional methods like checks or money orders, TT and wire transfers provide a quicker way to send and receive funds, increasingly within the same business day.

Security: High levels of security are inherent to both methods, with robust encryption standards in place to protect sensitive information.

Bank participation: Both typically require the involvement of banks or other licensed financial institutions as intermediaries to execute a transfer.

Fees: Sending funds via TT or wire transfers usually incurs fees, which can vary depending on the sending and receiving banks, the amount being transferred, and the urgency of the transaction.

SWIFT network: For international transfers, both TT and wire transfers often run through the SWIFT network to exchange transaction information securely between financial institutions globally.

Key Differences Summarised

In modern banking and finance, the differences between telegraphic transfers (TT) and wire transfers have largely become a matter of terminology rather than concrete, functional distinctions. Historically, these terms originated from different technologies and practices for transferring funds electronically, but over time, as EFT technology has evolved and standardised, the practical differences have blurred, and many of the differences are particular to different jurisdictions. Here are key areas where those differences might exist:

International vs. domestic: In some regions and contexts, telegraphic transfers are still specifically associated with international fund transfers. Wire transfers, however, are used to refer to both domestic and international transfers.

Technology: Both telegraphic transfers and wire transfers use modern electronic networks, including SWIFT, for the transmission of funds.

Terminology and Regional Preferences: The preference for using one term over the other can vary by country and institution. For example, in some countries, "telegraphic transfer" is more commonly used, especially for international transactions. "Wire transfer" is a more commonly used term in the United States for both domestic and international transfers. In the UK, the term "wire transfer" is widely recognized, but the term "telegraphic transfer" is also used, particularly in the context of international transactions.

Cost and Speed: The cost and speed of transfers can vary based on the banks involved, the countries between which funds are being transferred, and the specific services chosen, rather than whether the transaction is labelled as a TT or a wire transfer.

Fees and Considerations

Understanding Transfer Fees

Telegraphic and wire transfers come with various costs attached, including bank transfer fees, intermediary bank fees, and currency exchange rate margins. The total cost of a transfer depends on factors such as transaction amounts, destination countries, the chosen transfer method and fees set by the institutions used as intermediaries in the transfer.

Historical Background

Origins of Telegraphic and Wire Transfers

The term “telegraphic transfer“ originated in the era when telegraphy was used to communicate payment instructions between banks, typically over long distances, including international borders. The telegraph system allowed for the rapid transmission of financial information before the advent of more advanced telecommunications technology.

“Wire transfer” initially referred to the transfer of funds using telephone wires after the telegraph became less common. As technology progressed, the term came to encompass any electronic transfer of funds using computer networks, including the internet.

The Role of SWIFT in Modern Transfers

SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) was established in 1973 and plays a pivotal role in international money transfers. It provides a secure and standardised messaging network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions, including international wire transfers.

Choosing Between Telegraphic and Wire Transfers

Factors to Consider

Cost: Fees associated with each method should be assessed, including service charges by the sending and receiving banks and any intermediary banks.

Speed: Stated differences in speed between the two methods should be taken into consideration. Wire transfers are typically fast, especially for domestic transactions, but international transfers can vary depending on the network used.

Destination Country: Some countries may have preferences or restrictions that make one method more efficient or secure than the other.

Currency: Some methods may offer more favourable rates or lower conversion fees. 

Security and Reliability: Both methods are secure, but the level of security can vary depending on the specific banks and networks involved.

Alternatives to Telegraphic and Wire Transfers

Alternatives to traditional telegraphic and wire transfers are gaining prominence, offering faster, more cost-effective, and user-friendly options for international money movement. Fintech innovators like Payset allow users to send money internationally with lower fees and competitive exchange rates. Cryptocurrency transactions, using blockchain technology, offer another method, providing rapid transfers without the need for intermediary banks. These alternatives cater to a digitally savvy demographic and emphasise transparency, efficiency, and reduced costs in international money transfers.


Telegraphic transfers and wire transfers are fundamental components of the financial world, each making possible the vital task of moving funds across borders quickly and securely. Though their functionalities have converged in the digital age, differences in terminology and application remain, influenced by regional preferences and institutional practices. Evaluating these differences on a case-by-case basis is key in ensuring people and businesses choose transfer methods that best suit their needs.

open account

Frequently asked questions

What is a multi-currency account/virtual IBAN?

A Payset multi-currency account allows you to receive money in 34 different currencies and send money in up to 38 currencies, all within the same account.

You can deposit and withdraw funds, convert currencies at competitive exchange rates, and hold your chosen currencies to capitalize on market movements.

A Payset multi-currency account allows startups and business owners to receive payments from clients virtually anywhere in the world and pay suppliers, staff, and contractors quickly and affordably in their chosen currency.

  • Funds can be deposited and withdrawn from the account for a small fee.
  • Account holders can send and receive money with other Payset users for free.
  • Depending on your region, you can use various payment networks from your Payset account, including SWIFT, SEPA, ACH, Fedwire, Faster Payments, BACS, and CHAPS. 
  • Once you register an account, you will be provided with a Virtual IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which makes all of these transfers easy.
  • We provide you with local payments and collections. For example, transactions in USD, EUR, CAD, and GBP are processed through the local payment networks, which is far cheaper and takes minutes as opposed to days

Are there limits on the amount of money I can send and receive?

No, there are no transaction limits on Payset multi-currency accounts.

However, higher-volume transactions may require additional anti-fraud verification. If you plan to make a large transaction, contact us in advance to avoid verification delays.

How is Payset regulated?

Payset is regulated as an authorized Electronic Money Institution by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. Our activities are also regulated by the Payment Services Regulation 2017 and the Electronic Money Regulation 2011 (SI 2011/99).

How do I send money from my account?

Once you have opened your verified IBAN account and added money to a balance, transferring funds is simple.

Simply log in into your account and add a beneficiary, then simply “make a transfer” in your preferred currency to that beneficiary.

Information contained in this publication is provided for general education and information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, investment or other professional advice or recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions or any other actions (or refraining therefrom); This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s financial objectives or situation. We make no warranty, guarantee or representation, whether express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or fitness thereof for a particular purpose; Use of images and symbols is made for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or advice to take or refraining from any action; Use of brand logos does not necessarily imply a contractual relationship between us and the entities owning the logos, nor does it represent an endorsement of any such entity by Pay Set Limited, or vice versa; Market information is made available to you only as a service, and we do not endorse or approve it; Any reference to past performance, predicted returns, or likelihood performance scenarios may not reflect actual future performance and certainly do not guarantee future outcomes.

Manage Global Payment with a Payset Business Account

Rating star

I wanted to express my appreciation for the successful cooperation between my firm and Payset. I would like to point out in particular the professionalism, the manner in which requests are handled, the quick response time and the satisfaction of the clients. I strongly believes that we will continue to move forward and create many collaborations in the future

Asaf and the team
Rating star

The experience of using PaySet account was really interesting. It is one of the most ergonomic systems I have ever used. Support provided is fast and enquires are resolved in no time. I am very satisfied for using this account! Keep going guys!

Christina Loizou
Accountant at Lytria
Rating star

Through our experience with Payset we are happy to say the services provided were accommodated to our needs perfectly and were performed professionally. The support and customer care is fast and efficient, no question or request is left unanswered or unresolved. 10/10

Payments and Risk Manager, CanadaP LTD
Rating star

For the past year, we have worked hand in hand with Payset Limited to assist us with numerous payments related services. At no one time have they failed me, and they have always been on time, making them one of our top reliable business partners.

Clearsky network
Payments Team
Clearsky Network

Getting started is easy

Say Hi

Say hi

Share a few details about your business and leave us your contact info

Get on Board

Get on board

An account executive will guide you through the on-boarding process which is quick and simple

Enjoy using it

Enjoy using it

Log-in to your account to manage your funds 24/7 and enjoy low fees and fast execution

Open account