India is divided into twenty eight states and seven union territories and most are self-governed with their own elected representatives. Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the largest city in India with a population in excess of twelve million. It is larger in terms of population than the capital city Delhi which has over eleven million residents. There are six other cities with a population greater than four million: Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Surat. Other cities are growing at a phenomenal rate as many people who previously were sustained in agriculture seek work in the big cities.
The Indian banking system is split into five main sections, the State Bank of India, nationalised banks, private sector banks, foreign banks and regional rural banks. The State Bank of India is the largest bank in the country in terms of customers, branches and asset base. It is more than double the size of the next largest bank, ICICI Bank Of India, whilst other major banks include the Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda and the Bank of India.
India is the second largest country in the world by population and is emerging as a leading financial centre. There is now a growing need for payments to be sent from around the world to India and a wide range of currencies are converted into Rupees (INR) to facilitate transactions. The reasons for payments range from workers using their high levels of education to earn money outside India and send it home to support their families and communities, through to the completion of business and property deals.
Banks have been the natural conduit for sending money abroad for many years but their dominance has been challenged by the emergence of specialist foreign currency providers who are able to offer a low cost, simple to use money transfer service. By dealing in just one area of the banking market, the foreign currency providers are able to dominate and offer extremely competitive exchange rates. The opportunity to fix the exchange rate in advance and transaction fees that are well below those set by the mainstream banks are two advantages they can offer.
The banking system is good and it generally takes two business days to allow for an international transfer to clear. The lower fee structure provided by foreign currency providers makes it viable for anyone to use their services and save on the cost of sending money to India.