The World Bank’s latest findings indicate that countries are innovating like never before to make it easier to do business globally in today’s connected world. Read more “UK Ranks Ninth Overall in World Bank’s Latest Ease Of Doing Business Report; Usual Suspects Grab Top Rankings”
If you are a frequent flier, and a fan of using plastic over hard cash, then doubtless you will be aware that you can collect points for spending with your credit card that can be used to subsidise your air miles.
Air miles and credit cards seem to enjoy a fruitful relationship, and have done so for a matter of decades; and yet so few of us take advantage of the options available to us. Read more “3 Best Credit Cards For Picking Up Free Air Miles”
Take a deep breath. For once, Brexit woes have taken a back seat and the currency markets have had a little breathing space. With no fresh crises or emergencies, it has been relatively plain sailing this week for Sterling. Perhaps a good time then, to think about making that pounds to euros transfer you had been putting off? Read more “3 Great Deals For Sending Money Overseas: Pounds to Euros”
Before you pull out and flourish your credit card to pay for your goods and services whilst travelling overseas, think twice – then think again!
Withdrawing money using a credit card is a costly move even in your own country – credit card companies penalise cash withdrawers heavily with a host of associated charges – and the same applies overseas – don’t think the same rules do not apply. Read more “3 Overseas Credit Cards To Use Abroad”
Overseas investment; property, financial, or business related; supporting family and relatives overseas; moving and living abroad; importing or exporting goods over the medium to long term.
These are all good, and prominent reasons for taking extra care that you are managing currency exchange rate risk effectively. Failure to do so; using a high street money transfer company last minute to make a significant transfer of funds from pounds into euros, dollars, or renminbi, for example; can result in paying way over the odds, in fees and charges, or exchange rates skewed in the vendors favour. It could cost you 5% extra each and every time you make such a transfer, research shows. Read more “3 Of The Best Expat Overseas Bank Accounts”
To use a straightforward example, isn’t it strange that, in a tech-mad world, we still need to employ advanced mental arithmetic skills to work out how much money we have in our bank accounts. Read more “Flavors of Fast? 40 Countries Now Using Faster Payment Schemes As Business Case Becomes Unarguable”
California based blockchain instant payments platform Ripple has emerged as the leader of a vanguard of decentralised ledger payments solutions that is threatening the hegemony of current FX payments solution incumbent SWIFT. Read more “The Ripple Effect – Can The Silicon Valley Decentralised Payments Co. Build On This Week’s New Client Wins?”
The dream of becoming the next Amazon-affiliated drop-shipping millionaire is one that most of us have had at some point in our careers, usually after a bad day at the office or a long holiday. But can it be done? Read more “Starting An International Online Business? Try Canada or UK, New Study Says”
It’s often said that “money makes the world go round”, but in today’s connected world, it may be more true to conclude that, in fact, the world makes money go round.
A Buzzfeed expose this week focused on the now famous – for all the wrong reasons – meeting at Trump Tower on June 9th 2016, between a publicist named Goldstone, a lawyer named Kaveladze, Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, the now President’s son-in-law, and at least two other attendees, including the now disgraced Trump aide Paul Manafort. Read more “From The Highest & Mightiest, To The Humblest “Unbanked”, Everybody Makes International Money Transfers!”
Amongst the many disruptive fintech startups that have mounted a sustained attack on banks and money transfer operators’ share of the international money transfer market, TransferWise may be the best known, and certainly the noisiest, trumpeting their bank beating rates via PR campaigns and flash mobs, everywhere from the City of London, to the streets of Singapore and now, as far afield as Sydney.
Today the company announced another historic moment in their short history, recording their first ever annual pre-tax profit. Read more “TransferWise Records First Ever Annual Profit, Pledges To Maintain Bank-beating Prices”
Last month, we looked at the fragmented Indian payments and overseas money transfer market, which, thanks to its size, estimated at over $70 billion, is attracting competitors from Silicon Valley tech giants, disruptive mobile startups, domestic players, and the might of China, a country that is truly mastering micro-payments.
We also suggested that blockchain based international payments could be a coming force in India, and news reaches us this week that European digital payments provider TransferGo is announcing a new partnership with Ripple, the California based blockchain platform designed for real-time payments.
TransferGo CEO Daumantas Dvilinskas declared himself “delighted” to be able to offer remittance customers the ability to send payments in real time, using banking partners based in India, a service that Ripple’s considerably larger, in terms of market share, rival SWIFT is unable to offer.
SWIFT has been the market leader when it comes to providing the “plumbing” for international money transfer since the 1970’s, but in Ripple, which has developed its own decentralised blockchain system, it maybe encountering a genuine rival.
Asheesh Birla, SVP of Product at Ripple has given some insight into the way Ripple is thinking big in India by revealing that “We realised that if you get the top three banks in India onto Ripple, you get 80% of the market share.” Easier said than done perhaps, but Ripple has already overcome some major hurdles, as we have written about here in the past, and has worked with the likes of MoneyGram, and Santander, to revamp and accelerate their overseas payments infrastructure.
Another major attraction that Ripple has to offer is its price. In their press release, Ripple and TransferGo announced that they want to make sending payments from India to Europe, or vice versa, free of charge, which would place SWIFT under further pressure, to try to be as competitive. Granted, Ripple cannot deliver both superfast payments and free money transfers, as its free service, which uses the mid-market rate, takes 2-3 days, but it is an advantage in itself to be able to give customers the opportunity to either save money, or speed up their transfers.
And then there is mobile. Ripple realises that the way people send money is changing, moving to mobile rather than through banks or traditional Money Transfer Operators (MTOs); after all, even amongst India’s “unbanked” population, most own a mobile phone or at the very least have access to one, and if you can set up a digital wallet and start sending and receiving money in a few swipes and taps, why make the trek to your nearest bank, which could be a few hours travel away?
Ripple has described its market penetration in India as “high”, as its free service, which offers “zero fees and a mid-market rate,” will take at least 2-3 business days to send the cash to its destination.
Marcus Treacher, SVP of Customer Success at Ripple, commented that “TransferGo is a great example of a forward-thinking payment provider that’s leaning in to new technology to facilitate real-time, cross-border money transfers for their customers. That’s a big step forward.”
Whilst there is no disagreeing with that, and Ripple will doubtless be encouraged by TransferGo’s declaration that the partnership “opens up new horizons for TransferGo to develop additional products and services”, the Californian company with the big ambitions will have to set their sights higher and capture a significant portion of India’s $70 billion dollar if they really want to frighten SWIFT.
Some people like plastic, whilst others prefer cash. These two payment methods have been around for generations, and, until recently, there has been little to choose between them when it comes to choosing how to pay for goods and services.
Today, however, and particularly in the Western world, it seems that we are increasingly moving towards a “cashless” society, where debit and credit cards, or even mobile wallets, hold sway. But what about when we spend time overseas? Read more “Multi Currency Debit Cards – Should You Have One?”
Augmentum, a specialist VC firm that focuses on promising fintech opportunities, made 2 investments last week into early stage, London based companies focused on the SME payments market, as well as a third investment into Duedil, which compiles information on unlisted early stage companies. Read more “3 London Based Fintech Firms Pick Up Funding In Rounds Led by Augmentum Providing Boost For Disruptive SMEs & Startups”
The FCA plans to take action against firms offering misleading exchange rates to potential customers, such as offering the “interbank” rate, only to switch to an alternative, less competitive rate once the customer is at a more advanced stage of the transaction.
Besides the offering of “unachievable” exchange rates, the FCA wants to stop firms making unsubstantiated claims about how much rival services charge, “unless the comparison is fair and balanced and the firm can prove that the claims made are true.”
The FCA revealed that the UK currency exchange transfer market for outbound services is worth approximately £60bn per annum, with remittances; sending money overseas regularly to support family or friends; responsible for roughly £18bn of that figure.
The new rules will be aimed at protecting “consumers who are individuals acting outside their trade, business or profession, micro-businesses and charities with an annual income of less than £1 million”, who are perceived to be most vulnerable due to having less experience of foreign currency exchange markets and what the precise costs of making a transaction ought to be. The FCA will insist that: “where providers compare the costs of their service with other providers, they do so in ways which are meaningful, fair and balanced, and capable of being substantiated.”
The main concern is the way in which a foreign exchange company may communicate a promotion offering a particular rate to win a customer’s business, only to offer a less competitive rate once the customer has all but committed to using the firms services. In the FCA’s view, the misleading offer has prevented the customer from visiting other sites or using a comparison service to compare real time or achievable rates offered by other service providers.
As much as possible the FCA wants to make sure that customers are getting all the facts and that there are no hidden charges or fees that are applied at a later stage, making a seemingly inexpensive transaction more costly than advertised, and giving the service provider an unfair advantage over competitors who are more transparent about their pricing and provide information about additional charges up front.
The FCA says that “research and evidence collected on market practices, as well as customer behavioural trends, indicate that customers face challenges in understanding the total cost of a currency exchange transaction”, and that misleading advertising “could lead to losses for consumers and SMEs.”
The second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) which came into effect EU-wide in January this year has introduced new legislation designed to curb misleading advertising practices within the international money transfer industry, and covering “disclosure of information, cost and charges for currency conversions”. The FCA also plans to take into account directives from the European Commission “designed to increase transparency of charges for payments that involve currency exchanges and to increase the comparability of the options available for payment service users.”
The FCA is inviting feedback from firms and interested parties before it decides what specific action to take. The public consultation closes in November, with new rules and guidelines expected to be released published early in 2019.
If you are looking to send money abroad and would like to use a comparison service that gives you all the facts, including fees, exchange rates and transaction times, try The Money Cloud. We work exclusively with regulated money transfer brokers and use API’s to display real-time rates that you can compare for a wide range of currencies in just a few clicks.
2 financial services giants; Visa in the payments space, and MoneyGram in the overseas money transfer sector; are set to join forces to further streamline the process for consumers of sending funds overseas. Read more “Visa & MoneyGram Announce Joint Partnership To “Modernize & Digitize” International Money Transfers”
This month, Google announced some sweeping changes to its payment services, which had become a little confused, and confusing. Read more “Google Is Cleaning Up It’s Payments Act, Merging Apps & Offering Enhanced Services; Could International Money Transfer Be Next?”
Even by Brexit standards, it has been a tumultuous week for UK politics. A much-publicised meeting at Chequers took place over the weekend to discuss the White Paper that Theresa May has spent the past 2 years preparing, describing under what specific terms exactly the UK will complete its divorce from the European Union. The discussions resulted in the resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis, 2 key “Leave” campaigners who helped swing the referendum in favour of Brexit. The White Paper has continued to attract outspoken criticism from both hardline Brexiteers like Jacob Rees Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith, the opposition Labour party, and the EU itself.
It has been a difficult start for Dominic Raab, the new Brexit secretary, but looking beyond the chaos, we feel it is more than worthwhile to review the White Paper in detail and try to understand what the implications are, starting from an international trade perspective. There is, after all, much to be learned from this 108 page document, some of which has even met with approval from a majority of stakeholders! Read more “Chequers, Brexit & The Long Awaited White Paper; How Will The UK Trade Overseas After Leaving The EU?”
Now that it is all but official that the UK will leave the EU on the 20th March 2019, there will doubtless be a flurry of activity by firms, particularly within the financial sector, to try to establish what the various scenarios and implications of Brexit will mean for them. Read more “Will The UK Remain In Single European Payments Area Post Brexit? EPC Issues New Guidance”
Amidst all the recent discussion and hand-wringing around the new GDPR regulations, it’s easy to forget that it was only in January this year that the updated Payment Services Directives, a set of EC-wide regulations designed to make it easier, faster and less expensive to for customers to pay for goods and services, by promoting innovation, came into force.
If the introduction of PSD2 has gone a little under the radar, a new report from PWC, in association with the Open Data Institute, argues that the effects of the Open Banking “revolution” certainly won’t. The report estimates that “Open Banking has the potential to create a revenue opportunity of at least £7.2bn by 2022 across retail and SME markets.” Read more “PWC / Open Data Institute Investigate State Of “Open Banking” Revolution In New Report”
Filipino workers in Hong Kong, of which there are more than 180,000, received a potential boost to their finances this week as Jack Ma, the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba, which counts fintech firms Ant Financial and Alipay as subsidiaries, made good on a promise he had made years ago to help his Filipino friends spend less on fees when sending money back home to friends and relatives. Read more “Ant Financial Introduces Low Cost Blockchain Money Transfers for Lucrative Hong Kong Philippines Remittance Channel”