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Currencies Direct

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Halo Financial

Tried and trusted since 2005, FCA-authorised currency specialist Halo Financial is built around it's customers, providing unrivalled currency guidance combined with great exchange rates for businesses.


Headquartered in Singapore, InstaReM offers overseas money transfer service maintaining transparency in transactions by displaying an accurate break-out of transactions.

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Regular payments | Competitive rates | Dedicated Borker for large volume
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Moneycorp Moneycorp

One-off payments | Regular payments | Great rates | Safeguarded customer funds
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Bank-beating FX rates | Safe and secure | Free transfers for FXcompared customers
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TransferWise TransferWise

TransferWise is an online only provider
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Virgin MoneyVirgin Money

Great rates | Safe and secure | Award winning service
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Transparency and security | Great customer feedback rating from Feefo
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Diversification and Improvement of Offerings Looking More Like Banks

In 2017, TransferWise, WorldFirst, and EasyFX debuted multi-currency accounts as convenient alternatives to the slowness of the traditional system, which required establishing bank accounts around the world.  Whilst mutli-currency accounts are nothing new and have been offered by banks to select customers for many years, it is the launching and marketing of these products to the masses that is the change. This trend was driven by the demands of businesses and online sellers, who often encounter frustration when trying to open multi-currency accounts with banks and transfer money into and out of those accounts.In some markets, including the US, many banks don’t even allow SMEs (small and medium sized businesses) to hold multi-currency accounts. With more and more banks returning to single country strategies as opposed to global empire building, hardly any company can be served internationally by its home country bank.  This has opened the doors to all these new products.TransferWise, which started out as a bank alternative that focused exclusively on cross-border payments, began imitating big banks last May with the launch of its “Borderless” multi-currency account.  While TransferWise has not yet stated that they will offer interest bearing deposit accounts, it may reconsider if customers begin holding funds in Borderless Accounts for long periods.  It’s also easy to imagine the company integrating lending into their service options, given that many stand-alone SME lending platforms have strong track records.Monese, an e-money company launched in the UK in 2015, became the country’s first mobile only bank account.  Aiming to ease the hassles that expats, immigrants, and nomads experience when attempting to open bank accounts in their new country, Monese eliminates the need to present proof of residence or a credit history.  High Street Banks usually require a passport and documentation of a UK address, such as a utility bill, which means that newcomers can wait up to six months for that documentation to become available.  In contrast, Monese performs a quick check of a potential customer’s digital footprint through its proprietary KYC (Know Your Customer, a regulatory requirement) platform.While Monese also provides international payments, they’re winning customers for other reasons, claims CEO Norris Koppel.  Koppel doesn’t consider Monese a direct competitor of banks, because it offers a “light” bank account with a unique focus.  “We don’t want to build everything ourselves, so unlike banks we want to keep everything light.  But we want to aggressively expand our territories and make our technology available on a global scale.”  Monese works with people who have been rejected from banks (30% of new arrivals from abroad), so in that sense it performs a complementary role.  In fact, the company is planning to partner with banks to get them to channel rejected customers to Monese.  At the time of our interview with Koppel last November, Monese was up in running in 20 countries.Moneycorp decided to go all the way when it comes to emulating banks by acquiring its full banking license and offering interest bearing accounts, so it is now literally a bank.  In our interview with CEO Mark Horgan last summer, he explained the reasons for this decision.  Given that Moneycorp relies on banks to supply its liquidity and distribute its payments, it needs to comply with certain standards that are even higher than those of banks.  As a result, Moneycorp was experiencing all of the cons (e.g., tight regulations) yet none of the pros of actually being a bank.  “So I had a view that, if you’re going to act like a bank, you’re going to be treated like a bank, you’re going to be structured like a bank, you’re going to have IT systems like a bank, you may as well have a license because it will give you access to the upside.”  The upside includes the ability to pay interest on accounts, hold deposits for extended periods, raise liquidity and lend.As open banking pushes for greater transparency when moving funds across borders and makes switching to a new provider easier, big banks are no longer firmly in control.  They can’t depend on owning the customer relationship from the beginning.  If customers can get all of their needs met outside of the established financial system, they may not see a need for a traditional bank account at all.  Here’s a snapshot of which payment companies are offering which banking products and services:Slide09.jpg

Embracing E-Money Licenses 

Consistent with the trend towards diversification of offerings and adoption of banking services, an increasing number of payment companies and fintechs have been acquiring e-money licenses over the past two years.  Such a license is more comprehensive than an authorized payment institution license and is often perceived as an intermediate step towards a full banking license, or at least towards a wider range of offerings, particularly as it allows for wallets and multi-currency accounts.  It’s an indication that the payment company aims to venture beyond the pure money transfer space.The following graph illustrates the recent rise in the number of e-money licenses granted to payment companies in the past several years:Slide04.jpgCompanies based in the UK generally started acquiring e-money licenses in 2014.  TransferWise and WorldFirst jumped on the bandwagon two years later, and in 2017 two more of the largest industry players followed suit:  Currencies Direct and Argentex.  These companies gained the ability to issue payment instruments like credit cards and to hold customer funds, rather than merely transfer them.The UK continues to be the base for many European payments companies, but with Brexit on the horizon, it may not retain this position. Companies are already beginning to either set up or move their offices out of the UK. Moneygram has set up an office in Brussels, and we expect to see an increase in companies getting regulated out of Ireland. The US continues to place a disproportionate regulatory burden due to its state by state requirements. Asia, as we cover later in this report, has seen good growth in new players due to lighter regulation and the high adoption of mobile amongst consumers.

Differentiating through Cryptocurrencies and Consumer Lending

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funnel.pngTv5ransfer industry consolidation and merger infographic.jpgpe.png Slide11-FixedSize.jpgtwrev.png Slide03.jpgIn addition to managing and carefully considering reviews, payment companies need to identify ways of developing their brand that are novel yet provide a strong ROI.  For example, the last couple of years have witnessed a spike in sponsorships of popular sports teams:Slide01.jpg


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