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Avoid the costs of wild Swiss currency swings
Is any currency reliable forever? Photo: Shutterstock

Avoid the costs of wild Swiss currency swings

The Local · 26 Jan 2015, 12:00

Published: 26 Jan 2015 12:00 GMT+01:00

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The cost of moving to a new country may include leaving your family and friends behind, but the move can also bring a wealth of new experiences. The chance to learn a foreign language and taste different culinary delights are both culturally enriching.

But when it really comes to money matters, transferring currency can leave you feeling like you lost out.

With family or even a home overseas, there’s a good chance you need the services of international banking and, when you are forced to transfer money at a loss, it can be pretty frustrating.

Losing money when sending cash back home is a common problem for expats who face large fees and hidden charges from banks even when central banks aren’t wreaking havoc on currency markets.

With a vision of revolutionizing the way people send money internationally, CurrencyFair is an online marketplace where secure transactions are made faster and far cheaper.  

It’s an issue that Australian Brett Meyers became all too well aware of after moving to Ireland.

“I often needed to transfer money back home and got stung on a bank transfer, losing hundreds with a really poor exchange rate, and decided not to get ripped off anymore," he says.

With a combined background in technology and finance, Meyers and a group of colleagues set out to solve the problem, creating the online marketplace CurrencyFair that was launched in 2010.

“We came up with a way of transferring money internationally without involving international transfers,” he adds.

“It works on the principle that I might be sending euros back home to Australia for Christmas, at the same time there’s plenty of people with Aussie dollars that want euros – for example, a person who emigrated there needs to send money back to pay the mortgage.”

And following the Swiss National Bank’s decision that it would no longer hold the Swiss franc at a fixed exchange rate with the euro, interest in the effects and costs of currency exchange has increased.

In just a matter of days, CurrencyFair saw a 2000 percent increase in registrations from Switzerland, with users keen to take advantage of new rates (or mitigate potential losses).

With CurrencyFair, an individual can sell currency in exchange for buying another from someone else. It allows people to either exchange immediately using the best rate currently available, or offer your funds at a rate of your choosing and wait for another customer to match you.

For a €3 fee, the funds are deposited with CurrencyFair, which ensures the transaction is completed between accounts. By cutting out the banking middleman, Meyers says the model is 90 percent cheaper than using banks.

“You can save up to €60 when you consider all the sending and receiving charges and on top of that an average of three percent on the exchange rate,” Meyers says.

Learn more by visiting the CurrencyFair website

CurrencyFair is secure as the site is registered as a payment institution under a European directive, specifically designed to open up the payment market to non-banks and introduce more competition. It means that CurrencyFair is regulated to provide and execute payment services.

CurrencyFair offers 20 currencies, in which to buy and sell, including Swedish kronor. And with €1.25bn already exchanged between members, customers have saved an estimated €60 million.

“Banks are clever in hiding the charges,” says Meyers. “People have no idea how much they are losing on the exchange rate – they just see the fixed fee. That’s what we need people to understand with our service - it’s about real, concrete savings.”

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by CurrencyFair

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The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

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