Currensea: the UK’s first travel money card linked to your bank
Over the coming months, FinTech Magazine is conducting a number of flash interviews with the top startups to watch in 2020. We kick off our first interview with James Lynn, Co-Founder of Currensea.
[Image: James Lynn]
Hi James. In your own words, could you tell me a little bit about what Currensea does?
Currensea is the UK’s first travel money card linked directly to your bank account. It’s integrated with most UK high street banks, providing customers with a simpler, cheaper and hassle-free option of travel money. The card works as an extension of your current account, allowing you to spend directly from your existing account, eliminating the need to open a new one. It is enabled by Open Banking - new legislation which aims to provide consumers with a better choice of services connected to their bank. We use the latest bank security and encryption technology, which means it’s as secure as your bank.
What gives Currensea its competitive edge?
There are a number of great benefits:
- It connects directly to your bank account: you stay with the bank you trust and pay from your main account, there’s no hassle or risk.
- It also means that you won’t have leftover money locked on another card or in a separate account.
- We don't charge bank transaction fees such as non-sterling or ATM fees.
- We don't have hidden/extra fees such as weekend mark up or ‘dormant card’ fees that some prepaid cards charge when you don’t use them. We don't charge extra fees beyond certain spending limit. Currensea saves you up to 80% on charges vs your high street bank.
What was your last major milestone / award?
We had thousands of people signing up to our waiting list in just a couple of months. Currensea’s crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs raised 102% over and above its funding target of £800,000 in just over two weeks. We are also delighted to be selected as a finalist in the Nesta Open Up 2020 Challenge – a £1.5mn prize fund run in partnership with Open Banking Limited, incentivising fintech innovators to accelerate the development of Open Banking enabled solutions.
Is there any exciting news you’d like to share with our readers at FinTech Magazine?
We will be launching in early January 2020 and for those who want to be one of the first to get their hands on a Currensea card the waitlist is now open on https://www.currensea.com/
- FinTech Profile: Brex, the credit card for startups
- Startup spotlight: Hastee lets you decide when you get paid
- Profile: Stripe – FinTech startup serving Google and Amazon
- Read the latest edition of FinTech Magazine, here
What can we expect from Currensea in 2020?
Expect to hear a lot more from us and see new product developments. We are excited about launching in January coinciding with the 2nd anniversary of Open Banking. Currensea is a mass-market solution with a clear value and can help British travellers at this difficult time when the pound is weak.
For more information on all topics for FinTech, please take a look at the latest edition of FinTech magazine.
Basel Committee urges recognition and management of crypto
Experts have welcomed the news that the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has proposed splitting cryptocurrency assets into two categories and managing them according to their current stability.
The regulatory body has recommended that crypto should be assessed on its operational risks to the bank, its credit, and its market liquidity. Well-established currencies, such as Bitcoin, will be managed in line with a “new conservative prudential treatment” the committee said.
Currently, the leading global standard-setter for the prudential regulation of banks, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) is based in Switzerland and comprises 45 members from bank supervisors and central banks in 28 jurisdictions.
The recommendations have come as a welcomed move by banking leaders and crypto cynics alike, and experts say the move now needs to be followed by a global policy that makes crypto assets safer for both banks and customers. This is despite the potential pitfalls due to crypto being associated with criminal activities and terrorism.
Cryptocurrency regulations welcomed
Although currently, banks have limited exposure to cryptocurrency, the popularity of Bitcoin, Etherium, and others is increasing rapidly among consumer and business transactions.
Recently, El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.
According to reports, 62 out of 84 congressional votes saw the move approved following President Nayib Bukele's proposal to embrace the cryptocurrency. This occurred despite concern about the potential impact on El Salvador's programme with the International Monetary Fund.
Fintech giants such as PayPal are also loosening their grip on cryptocurrency. The California-based online payments leader recently announced at the Coindesk Consensus 2021 conference, that it would allow customers to move cryptocurrency holdings off its platform via third-party wallets.
PayPal has also enabled users to buy and sell digital currencies through its platform since October 2020.
In an official statement released by the BCSC, the committee’s members said, “Continued growth and innovation in crypto-assets and related services, coupled with the heightened interest of some banks, could increase global financial stability concerns and risks to the banking system in the absence of a specified prudential treatment.”
An opinion report in the Financial Times also backed the move, saying that the popularity of cryptocurrencies shows no signs of slowing down and therefore, its volatility, which puts retailers and lenders at risk, must be made a safer asset.
Data shows that the value of Bitcoin makes up 50% of the cryptocurrency market, which is currently worth an estimated US$2trn. The BCBS announcement also boosted the value of the market because regulation classes cryptocurrency officially as an asset and is a significant recognition of maturation.
However, volatility remains an issue following Bitcoin’s turbulent year, which has seen it rise from $30,00 to more than $60,00 and then back down to $37,000 in under 12 months.
Crypto cynics not happy
But not everyone is pleased about the move. The director of the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, Pieter Hasekamp, published an article entitled ‘The Netherlands must ban Bitcoin” in response to the news for daily newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad
Hasekamp has predicted that cryptocurrency is a bubble that will ultimately collapse. He also urged the Netherlands government to ban bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with immediate effect.
He said, “Cryptocurrencies are unsuitable as a unit of account and means of payment outside the criminal circuit; its use as a store of value is based on the hope that cryptocurrencies will one day replace real money. But that’s not going to happen.”
He continued, “Cryptocurrencies are essentially neither money nor a financial product, but an example of what Nobel laureate Robert Shiller calls a contagious narrative: a contagious story in which people believe because other people believe in it. Gresham’s law is replaced by Newton’s law: what goes up, must come down.”
Image credit: Getty