One step further in the P2P Currency Transfers Revolution
For the past few years, the Internet has seen a rise in startups fighting against the high fees and unfair exchange rates charged by banks for international money transfers.
Transferwise’s comical campaigns have pushed forward the idea of “saying bye to banks” claiming that they’ve “had their fun”. The idea behind these lower fees revolves around the use of currency crowdsourcing to cut the cost of sending money abroad. For those unfamiliar with the concept, these financial services offer a P2P service where they match users wanting to transfer a particular amount of money in opposite directions. Companies like TransferWise (2011), CurrencyFair (2010) and Midpoint (2009) act as mediators to ensure the money is received in both sides, charging a minimal fee. If they are unable to find a match, the P2P currency platform matches directly with the user, charging a slightly higher fee.
It is a very exciting period for online remittances and it is one that is helping all members of today’s society with access to the Internet. In fact, there are a few startups that have decided to take one step further in the peer-to-peer currency crowdsourcing revolution: fully eliminating the middle-man. Below we take a closer look at three of these efforts:
1. WeSwap (www.weswap.com) – (2010) WeSwap promotes itself as the new way to get travel money, encouraging people to swap money with each other rather than buying it from financial institutions. Partnering with MasterCard, WeSwap provides its users with a multi-currency account and a prepaid MasterCard. The user loads money into the card from their personal bank account in the currency they have and this currency is then used by people who request it. WeSwap thrives in the assurance that it will find the currency you are looking for almost automatically, through its community of travelers. The platform currently works with euros, US dollars, British pounds, Danish kroner, Swedish kroner and Norwegian kroner. WeSwap charges 1% commission for every Swap unless it is unable to find a person with whom to swap, in which case WeSwap charges 1.5% commission to swap directly with the user.
2. Weeleo (www.weeleo.com) – (2013) Weeleo is a startup that offers a simple platform for free peer-to-peer exchanges. It only offers the possibility of transferring cash and so users who post offers and those who match them have to physically meet to complete the transaction. Weeleo determines the mid-market exchange rate using an official foreign exchange converter. This simplifies procedure and makes it possible for Weeleo to be free of charge. This service is primarily targeted at travelers, claiming it is changing the way people travel and deal with exchanging currencies. An added benefit of Weeleo is the potential for meeting likeminded people and exchanging travel recommendations.
3. CrowdTransfer (www.crowdtransfer.com) – (2014) CrowdTransfer is a newer service still working on a private beta version. What CrowdTransfer offers is a platform much like a social network, where people are able to post offers and receive matches. Depending on the public trust profile of the user (through online and offline verification and number of successful transactions), other users will be more or less willing to accept offers and matches. The higher the trust profile of a user, the more able they will be to transfer greater quantities of money and with a greater pool of other trustworthy users. All transactions are completely free of charge and at the established midmarket exchange rate.
The collaborative economy in the financial world has stretched out to solve a problem that has been tormenting travelers, expatriates and immigrants alike. All these currency crowdsourcing efforts, whether they be free or at a minimal charge present a fairer future for international money transfers. I look forward to seeing whether these three startups will become the next big thing or what the future brings us instead.
Guest post written by Carlota Dochao
Recent graduate from University of Edinburgh, went out looking for new experiences outside of Europe. Currently living in Santiago, Chile and in charge of marketing and partnerships at CrowdTransfer.