What Is an Email Money Transfer – EMT?

An email money transfer (EMT) is a retail banking service that allows users to transfer funds between personal accounts, using email and their online banking service. Email money transfers are considered secure because notification of the transfer is done exclusively through email. The actual funds are settled through the existing funds transfer networks, which banks have used for years.

The Basics of Email Money Transfer – EMT

The email money transfer (EMT) is commonly used by clients of the "big five" banks in Canada: the Royal Bank of Canada, TD Canada Trust, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Bank of Montreal, and the Bank of Nova Scotia, along with other financial institutions.

When initiating an email money transfer, senders will first open their online banking account—either on a desktop computer or a mobile application. They will then select the amount to be sent (e.g., $500) and the specific account (e.g., TD Checking 8276521752), from which the funds will be withdrawn. They choose the recipient of these funds. When confirmed, funds are instantly debited. (Occasionally a surcharge is required.)

An email with an answer to a specific security question is sent to the recipient of the funds; in addition, separate instructions are sent to the recipient regarding the retrieval of the funds via a secure website. To access the funds, the recipient must correctly answer a security question. After a set number of incorrect attempts, funds could be returned to the sender.

If the recipient successfully moves past the security blockade, the funds will be deposited immediately, generally at no additional charge, if the recipient is signed up to a participating online banking institution. It could take three to five additional business days if the recipient is not subscribed to a participating online banking institution.

Email Money Transfer and Online Financial Security

As stated above, money is not actually transferred via email in an online money transfer, just the instructions to retrieve and deposit funds from participants’ physical accounts. Yet it is still a good practice not to accept transfers from unknown parties, and to contact the sender directly when notified of a transfer that is not expected. Because email is used, the service is susceptible to phishing scams. Both parties must take care to ensure the safety of both the sender and receiver.