Visa & Currencycloud: Pioneering cross-border solutions

We speak to Colleen Ostrowski, SVP, Treasurer and Head of Cross-Border Solutions at Visa, about how the company delivers B2B4X cross-border solutions

FinTech Magazine sits down with Colleen Ostrowski, SVP, Treasurer and Head of Cross-Border Solutions at Visa to discuss how the world-leading payments network processor delivers B2B4X cross-border solutions in partnership with its subsidiary, Currencycloud.

What was your role in the development of Visa's cross-border solutions product, and what specific challenges or needs did you aim to address?

Visa first invested in Currencycloud in 2019, at which point we immediately started collaborating on solutions, such as Weekend FX. 

At that time, I sat on the Currencycloud board, and it quickly became clear that there was much more we could achieve together. 

We wanted to bring Currencycloud wholly into the fold as part of the Visa family, which came to fruition in 2021 when we acquired the company.

Visa Cross-Border Solutions has what we like to call a ‘B2B4X’ model - we solve problems for businesses like a B2B company, but we’re convinced that the best way we can do that is to provide the best end-user experience possible. 

That’s important because traditionally cross-border money movement isn’t a very user-friendly experience. It’s often opaque, laborious, and costly. 

Our partners know they can rely on us to fix that and make cross-border payments simple for them and their customers. 

Could you elaborate on the target audience for this product? What types of businesses or organisations is it designed to assist?

Visa Cross-Border Solutions primarily targets other businesses, such as banks, fintechs, FX brokers and corporates who want to offer their customers embedded multi-currency and cross-border services. 

In this way, we ensure that any customer who needs to move money across borders can do so with increased speed, convenience and transparency.

We also support other divisions of the Visa business. For example, while working alongside Visa Direct, we recently expanded our partnership with Paysend.

In terms of relevance, can you share how this product aligns with the current market trends and demands within the fintech and corporate sectors?

With cross-border payments, there is a gaping difference in terms of consumer expectations and the current industry standard: for instance, messaging apps and ultra-fast internet let us chat to friends around the world with near-zero delay. 

But attempt a cross-border payment and, depending on where you live and what currencies you’re using, it can take days or even weeks. 

So, you end up in this frustrating situation where you can request money from someone instantly but then must wait a long time for that money to arrive. 

Those of us who work in the industry know why that is and the challenges that exist, but the average consumer doesn’t. They just feel frustrated by how slow it is. 

And while a delayed payment may be a nuisance for someone sending pocket money to a son or daughter studying abroad, for a family that relies on remittances for their weekly food shop, it’s much more serious. 

Through Visa Cross-Border Solutions, we set out to solve these problems for our clients.

How do Visa's cross-border solutions improve cost savings and speed of international payments for businesses? How does it improve the end-customer experience?

We make it simpler for our clients and partners to tap into cross-border opportunities. For example, we can make it much easier for a bank or fintech to offer fast and convenient multi-currency wallets and payments to consumers.

The end customer benefits enormously from this, as it enables our clients to deliver solutions that align better with consumers’ expectations of speed and convenience, making cross-border payments a faster, slicker and more versatile experience. 

For instance, for a consumer that uses a remittance client of ours to send money back home, our work would allow them to make transfers faster and less costly. 

What most excites you about the future?

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we live in a world where technology means we can work and conduct business from almost anywhere on the globe. 

The result of this is that the ability to easily move money around the world has become crucial for our customers. 

Whether it’s an individual sending money home, someone working abroad that wants to pay like a local without getting stung by fees, a ‘mom and pop’ business going global online, or an international corporate moving funds across regions, cross-border payments are becoming ever-more significant.

With Visa Cross-Border Solutions, we’ll continue to deliver innovations that make cross-border money movement easier, faster and more cost-effective. 

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