Fintech takes aim at the steep cost of international money transfers

FOR MIGRANT workers, sending money home is an expensive chore. They send plenty: remittances to developing countries are set to reach $550bn this year, beating foreign direct investment, the World Bank said on April 8th. Total cross-border transfers to and from individuals and small businesses come to $10trn a year. But a hefty chunk is taken in fees along the way.

American high-street banks can charge over 5% for smallish transfers between major currencies. MoneyGram, an established money-transfer giant, levies 5% for the hop from Britain (sterling) to Ireland (euros). Fees for minor currencies are swingeing. Wiring $200 from South Africa to Nigeria can take days, and costs over 25%. Cash transfers are even worse value.

Now some fintechs are trying to disrupt the cosy status quo. In a world made smaller by Skype and instant messaging, “why does money still go on a donkey?” asks Taavet Hinrikus of TransferWise, a London-based fintech that typically charges a tenth as much as British banks. As yet the newcomers have merely nibbled around the edges. But as incumbents abandon tricky markets, technology improves and financial regulators take aim at unclear pricing, they look set to take a bigger bite.

To send money across borders, banks use “correspondent” accounts they open with each other. When Anna at Bank A wants...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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