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5 ways international payments are changing the world

Fri Apr 28 04:00:00 EDT 2017

Creating a global marketplace

Fintech is changing the way we buy, sell and transfer money. It’s creating an innovative worldwide marketplace in the face of shifting global politics.
Consumers, businesses and families are now starting to now enjoy a truly global financial network on the same fair terms, wherever they are. Inconsistencies can be ironed out and risks can be reduced. This isn’t just down to product features: fintech innovations that help international payments take place are actually behind some major shifts in how the world works.

Here are five ways international payments are changing the world.

1. The power of mobile banking is being unleashed across borders

Mobile banking is nothing new, but its status in the developing world is being elevated thanks to ubiquity of mobile phones and cellular networks. But what happens when money needs to move across a national border and over to a different mobile network?

By developing smarter ways of integrating with, and crossing networks and borders, companies like Beyonic, for example, allow businesses to make two-way payments across borders and telecom networks with the security of a normal bank—but over a mobile. This is leading to a growth opportunities in African nations, where smarter, more connected businesses can thrive with minimal infrastructure investment.

2. Payments are adapting to a global and migratory workforce

We're living in a time of global migration, where workers are able to travel to meet demand for their services. They’re often far from the places where their earnings would do the most good; in many cases, they find it hard to transfer money back home, especially if it's a rural area. Fintech is offering solutions to the growing need to send money to these kinds of places with services such as Valapay, which recruits local affiliates to work as ‘Human ATMs’ in places where infrastructure is weak and transfer fees are high. Transferwise, the crowdsourced currency exchange service that grew out of the idea of ‘swapping’ currencies between consumers to lower the cost of exchanging money. It’s one of a number of fintech companies that have revolutionaied the way we make payments

Money from official development assistance is dwarfed in comparison to the amount of money being sent home by workers abroad. In 2016, three times more money was remitted internationally than was sent as aid. By giving the migrant workforce a chance to send money efficiently, and with lower fees, fintech can help raise standards of living where it’s needed most.

3. Cross-border ecommerce

By 2020, it’s expected that some 940 million online shoppers will spend almost $1 trillion on cross-border e-commerce transactions. The rising number of purchases made on devices like smartphones and tablets in particular will continue to help propel this growth, with shoppers taking advantage of being able to quickly and easily purchase goods whilst they’re on the go. World First, whose business is to facilitate cross-border payments and settlements, is helping this global boom by offering businesses and consumers a wider range of ways over how they get their money between countries in an efficient and cost effective way.

4. Lending in developing economies is growing

Companies like Oikocredit and Lendwithcare have made it easy and commercial to invest small amounts of money in small businesses in the developing world. The World Bank estimates that 2.7 billion people lack access to basic financial services, so by offering communities and businesses ‘microloans’ to buy materials or equipment, initiatives like these can support steady growth in poorer regions.

Although returns are modest, this process is risk-assessed and managed with oversight, and with interest rates low across the board in the West, the advantages of investing in these economies are clear.

5. We are seeing the emergence of real-time, anywhere payments

The emergence of national real-time payments systems such as Faster Payments in the UK, plus the development and uptake of mobile P2P services on top of them like paymare evolutionary steps show that a global, cheap and instant way to move money is possible. Instant payments mean more trust between people, with the benefits that will bring to the supply chain. Instant payments also mean more efficient, responsive business, less reliant on credit and with less exposure to risk. McKinsey’s latest Global Banking Report found that banks are likely to step into this space by merging or collaborating with fintech companies, so a future of traditional banking and fintech working together even more is already on the cards.