Skrill extends free money transfers to Italy in response to coronavirus
Transfer fees and foreign exchange charges are dropped until further notice.
Payment transmitter Skrill announced Thursday that it will drop all fees and foreign exchange charges on money transfers to Italy. This includes withdrawal fees from its digital wallet. The move was announced by Skrill’s CEO Lorenzo Pellegrino, an Italian national.
This move can theoretically save a great deal in transfer fees. While Skrill’s 1.99% transaction fee — capped at $20 — is high but reasonable, the 3.99% currency conversion fee, up to 7.99% withdrawal fee, 5% ACH fee and 2.99% credit card fee can add up to a heavy haul for each transaction. Skrill, however, has no transaction limits, making it easy to send large sums of funds overseas quickly.
Recipients do not need a Skrill account to receive funds. All they need is a valid form of identification. Funds can also be routed to bank accounts and mobile wallets.
Following the onset of COVID-19 — the disease at the heart of the current pandemic — Italy’s economy has cratered. In order to stem the runaway contagion in the country, almost all businesses have been shut down. All shops except for food and drug stores have been shuttered. All tourism spots have been closed. All mortgage payments are suspended. Italian citizens have been asked to exercise voluntary social isolation and stay home in order to help control the spread of the syndrome.
“I am utterly heartbroken to see this situation unfold in my home country. By removing all fees and foreign exchange markups, people who are sending money to loved ones in Italy from outside of the country will see more of their funds going to the right place,” Pellegrino said in an announcement online.
The push to socially isolate can be devastating. While some professionals and those in the creative sphere can theoretically work at home, many — especially those working in the service industry — will lose their ability to work if they are asked to stay home. Industries like tourism, public transportation, entertainment and aviation have seen extreme slowdowns following the social isolation push, leading to unpaid furloughs and work stoppages.
In Italy, the social isolation is being mandated by police order. Individuals found on the streets without a police permit or without clearly doing business are subject to fines or several months’ imprisonment.
“The situation started to feel a lot more tense,” Natalie Kennedy, a travel blogger from San Diego who lives in Rome, told NBC News. “People are starting to limit their travel outside of their homes. We’re staying home a lot more.”