Posted September 5th, 2023

The Future of Money Transfers: How to Send Money Abroad Without a Bank Account

With many foreign workers finding it hard to open traditional bank accounts, it is important to learn just how to send money abroad without a bank account in the UAE.
Business FX

If you have had to miss work, spend hours in transit, and then spend some more time waiting in a queue at an exchange house, then you probably know how difficult it can be to send money internationally from the UAE.

And if you are a foreign worker who has struggled with opening a bank account, then you probably know the added stress of sending money abroad and why learning how to send money without a bank account is crucial.

According to the Journal of Risk and Financial Management, 32% of the UAE’s working population were unbanked in 2020, while another 19% were only partially unbanked. A major cause of this is the strict requirements that banks put on those looking to open new accounts – requiring minimum account balances and a minimum salary, etc.

Without these bank accounts, many UAE residents, especially migrant workers, have been unable to send money abroad through the bank system.

With expats making up 89% of UAE’s population, according to Digital Gravity, a digital transformation company in the UAE, learning how to send money without a bank account has become an essential part of life for the majority of the population.

Another reason why this is essential is that many migrant workers organise their personal finances around sending money back home. Therefore, being able to do this effectively and efficiently is crucial to their sense of self fulfilment.

In this article, we will consider how those without bank accounts in the UAE can still send money to their loved ones abroad.

We’ll cover:

  1. The UAE and the difficulties of opening a bank account
  2. Exchange houses: Today’s common way to send money abroad without a bank account
  3. How to send money without a bank account: A more efficient option

[Do you want to send money to your loved ones abroad even though you don’t have a bank account? Download the Hubpay app on Google playstore and Apple store to start sending money home in a more efficient way.]

1. The UAE and the difficulties of opening a bank account

The primary difficulties that UAE residents face when opening a traditional bank account has to do with requirements by the banks.

The first of these is the minimum salary requirement. Most banks in the UAE require that an applicant earns a salary between AED 3,000 and AED 5,000 before they can qualify for a savings account. Some premium banks will even require a higher amount.

Secondly, most banks in the UAE require that account owners keep a minimum balance of between AED 3,000 and AED 10,000 in their accounts. Failure to comply with this rule will lead to the imposition of varying degrees of penalties (fees), which can be up to AED 50, according to Expatica, an online resource for expat living.

Thirdly, most banks in the UAE still charge account opening fees, account management fees, ATM management fees, withdrawal fees, among others. These fees, though little on their own, can accumulate and become significant, especially for low- and medium-income earners.

Fourthly, according to Europe Emirates Group, a firm handling company registration in Dubai, some banks in the UAE will still require a bank statement and a reference letter from the bank the migrant was using in their home country. Migrants unaware of this requirement before coming to the UAE might find it difficult getting such papers. More importantly, many become discouraged and just ignore the whole account opening process.

The culminating effect of all these is that many UAE residents are either unable to open traditional bank accounts or are discouraged from even trying. Most of these people then resort to a cash-based economy, with all of its attendant risks.

A consequent implication is that they are unable to use bank transfer to send money to their family and friends abroad since most banks will require a bank account before processing such transactions.

2. Exchange houses: Today’s common way to send money abroad without a bank account

Exchange houses

Without bank accounts, many UAE residents then turn to exchange houses. These financial institutions don’t require bank accounts before sending money on behalf of their customers.

A customer can take cash to an exchange house, fill the required forms, and wait for the completion of the transfer. What matters is that the sender has a valid means of identification.

The recipient abroad can also collect the cash in person at a cash pickup location (which can be a post office) provided by the exchange house.

There are many exchange houses in the UAE (including international ones like Western Union) with different transfer fees and exchange rates. However, most of them tend to have a fixed transaction cost that does not vary with transaction volume.

As regards processing speed, transactions might take between 1 and 4 days depending on the transfer method.

Nevertheless, it is worth stating that exchange houses are generally inefficient, for the following reasons:

  • Inconvenience: Many UAE residents have had to spend time travelling down to an exchange house. In the event that the exchange house with the better terms is not close, that means more time in transit. When they get there, they might also have to join a long queue, which is both inconvenient and time wasting. If there are any troubles with the transaction, the sender might have to make another trip and stand in another queue.
  • Processing speed: Those that cannot pay for the express services offered by these exchange houses might have to wait for days before their loved ones receive the remittance.

In cases of emergency, this can be even more discouraging.

  • Cost: Exchange houses generally offer poor exchange rates and charge high fees. Moreover, the fixed nature of transaction fees is detrimental to low- and middle-income earners who only send smaller amounts.
  • Security: Many people still trust banks because the government is always lurking around to ensure they are compliant with regulations. The same confidence is not obtained with exchange houses. And recent news about non-compliance has made many people even more cautious.

Another security concern concerns travelling with cash. It is well known that carrying a lot of cash around is risky.

All in all, exchange houses are not so efficient when it comes to sending money abroad.

3. How to send money without a bank account: a more efficient option

Many financial technology (fintech) companies have responded to the difficulties of opening traditional bank accounts in the UAE by offering mobile banking and digital banking solutions.

With these solutions, UAE residents can easily open a mobile bank account (in the form of a mobile wallet or digital wallet) on a mobile phone without going through the rigours of opening a traditional bank account.

All that is required is a mobile number, a valid ID, and a mobile app.

Since the UAE has a smartphone penetration rate of over 90%, according to Lucidity Insights, a data and insights streaming platform, many people have now embraced mobile banking, gaining access to various financial services even without a traditional bank account.

In complementing the efforts of these fintechs, other fintechs have now created remittances systems that allow people to transfer money abroad through their mobile wallets. That is, UAE residents can now send money from their digital wallets to these digital remittance platforms for onward transfer to their loved ones abroad.

Consequently, even those without traditional bank accounts can now send money abroad if they have a digital wallet, which they can easily access with the various mobile banking platforms in the UAE.

This is one development that more established money transfer service providers and digital payment platforms like Paypal have not caught on to in many locations.

Hubpay is a fintech company that offers a money transfer app allowing UAE residents without a bank account to send international money transfers from UAE to the world from the comfort of their phones.

Some of the advantages of these digital money transfer service providers include:

  • Convenience: Even without a bank account, you don’t need to waste time and energy travelling to an exchange house. You can use a mobile bank account and connect it with a platform like Hubpay. Also, recipients can receive funds into their accounts or wallets without going out to agent locations for cash pick up.
  • Cost: Since these platforms don’t incur high overhead costs, unlike exchange houses servicing multiple locations across the country, they charge low fees and offer better exchange rates.
  • Security: Digital remittances systems remove the need for carrying cash around. Furthermore, some like Hubpay, use cybersecurity tools (bank-level TLS 1.2 technology in Hubpay’s case) to protect the data and cash of users. Moreover, Hubpay is regulated by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA).
  • Processing speed: Since there is no cash involved, these platforms can process a large portion of their transactions within 24 hours.
  • Value-added services: Some of these platforms also allow users to pay bills and purchase airtime on behalf of their loved ones abroad at no extra cost.

How to top up your digital wallet without a banking account

Sending money through Hubpay begins with downloading the app on Google playstore or Apple store and registering an account. You only need your emirates ID, phone number, and other basic personal information to open an account.

Once you have created an account, you can start sending money to anywhere in the world. But before you do so, you need to add money to your account. And this is where Hubpay shines.

Hubpay allows you to access online banking, including:

  • Debit cards
  • Salary cards
  • Payment links

Linking a bank account with Hubpay


You can connect a traditional bank account or a digital wallet.

Selecting a traditional or digital bank account


Once connected, you don’t need to open your traditional or mobile banking app to transfer funds to Hubpay. You can do it directly on the Hubpay app.

Adding money to Hubpay wallet


Apart from being convenient (adding funds directly through Hubpay), the lean system is free unlike the use of debit or credit cards which involves transaction costs.

Moreover, if you prefer to stick to debit or credit cards as your payment method, Hubpay also allows you to choose that option. Just click on “top up another way” instead of following through with using the Lean system.

Choosing other top up methods

Et started

Using Hubpay is convenient (everything is done through the app), cost-effective (low fees and competitive exchange rates), transparent (no hidden fees and you can see what the recipient will receive in foreign currency) fast(many transactions are completed within the hour and most within 24 hours), and safe (the company is regulated by FSRA and the app is secured with bank-level TLS 1.2 technology).

Furthermore, Hubpay provides an in-app chat feature that allows you to chat with the transfer recipient while the transaction is in progress. Also, you can speak with Hubpay’s customer care representatives in 10 different languages.

Finally, Hubpay also offers add-on services like international mobile recharges and bill payments, providing you with multiple ways to give to your loved ones.

Add-on services on Hubpay


With Hubpay, you can send money from the UAE to India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Nepal, among many other countries, even without a traditional bank account.

[Are you ready to send money to your loved ones abroad? Sign up for Hubpay to enjoy convenient, low-cost, transparent, fast, and safe international money transfers from the UAE.]


  • Due to the stringent requirements of banks, many UAE residents, especially migrant workers, don’t have a traditional bank account. As a result of which they can’t send money abroad through the banks.
  • Exchange houses (e.g, Western Union, Al Fardan Exchange) allow customers to execute cash transfer (send money without bank accounts) but they are inconvenient, expensive, and slow.
  • Fintechs are now providing mobile wallets (e-wallets) as alternatives to traditional bank accounts. These are easier to access for migrant workers.
  • Digital remittances or online money transfer platforms now allow users to add money to their accounts from traditional as well as mobile bank accounts.