A wire transfer is a method of moving money via electronic means. Using a wire transfer, an individual may send money to another person. A wire transfer can also be done from one institution to another. When sending money through a wire transfer, it can be done from one bank account to another bank account. In other cases, it can be done via transferring of cash at a cash office. In this case, the cash is picked up by the recipient.
While it may not be immediately apparent, a lot of other transactions are actually forms of wire transfers. For example, if you use your debit card to make a purchase, what actually happens is that you are transferring money from your bank account (the one linked to the debit card) to the account of the store. The same concept applies to balance transfers for credit cards, transferring funds from one of your bank accounts to another, and so on.
Most of the time, the applications above do not require you to pay a fee on top of each transaction. However, if you wire money to another person using services such as Western Union, for example, you will be charged a flat fee for every certain sum that you send. The fee depends on the financial institution that you deal with.
Wire transfers are very commonly utilized these days, primarily due to the convenience and security that they provide - especially the bank to bank kind. However, wire transfers that allow anonymous transactions are more likely to be scrutinized by the authorities due to their tendency to be used by unscrupulous individuals.