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Hype vs Reality : Do New Remittance Platforms Truly Bank The Unbanked?

This post on CurrencyFair is written by our European Correspondent Bree Yek.

Image of VIP launch event taken by our European Correspondent, Bree Yek

We were invited to attend the VIP launch of CurrencyFair at the newly reopened Raffles Hotel at the end of September.

What Is CurrencyFair?

CurrencyFair is a British-owned peer-to-peer currency exchange marketplace, providing a “crowed-sourced” method to save users bank conversion fees – by matching a user in one country looking for funds in another with a user in the other country using their online platform, known as money-matching transfers. Each user will pay a fee for the transaction, and get the funds they are looking for at exchange rates they report to be lower than even the banks. They offer their cost-saving service to SMEs as well.

From a Statista report released April 2019, USD6,175 billion were remitted out of Singapore in 2017 alone. Blue collar foreign workers throng money remittance service counters at the shopping strip of Orchard, while a Bloomberg report2 dated 11 September 2019 predicts that due to the rising number of fintech start-ups and mobile payment platforms, which are predominantly patronised by white-collar executives, outbound remittances are set to grow, in particular those of transactions valued at over SGD10,000.

Yet with the positive outlook of the remittance market exists others fighting for a share of the pie. One of their fiercest competitors is perhaps TransferWise, launched in Singapore less than 2 years ago; and Moore’s Law also presumes there will be increasingly more mobile payment platforms coming to challenge CurrencyFair and TransferWise for their existing share of the market.

Empowerment To The People?

In a conversation with CEO Paul Byrne at the launch event, they asserted that they are empowering people, taking the side of the underdog versus the big bank boys. The launch itself – delicate canapés served on trays borne by immaculately dressed servers, cocktail glasses clinking against each other – seems to bear fact to their resources to be able to accomplish this.

They are already in the thick of rolling out talks to the expat crowd, such as the implications of Brexit on assets held by overseas Britons, so it remains to be seen how they will handle rolling out their platform to the other expatriates from China (the highest volume of outbound remittance recorded by Statista), Malaysia, India and others.

Image of speaker Andrew Hallam at a CurrencyFair talk, taken from https://www.facebook.com/CurrencyFair

Let’s stay tuned to updates!

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