Digital payments can bring reassurance post-COVID-19

By William Girling
We spoke with James Lynn, Co-Founder of Currensea, to learn what place card and digital payments hold in the post-COVID-19 market...

We spoke with James Lynn, Co-Founder of Currensea, to learn what place card and digital payments hold in the post-COVID-19 market.

Motivated by their first-hand experiences of - what they perceived as - exorbitant transaction charges while on abroad, James Lynn and Craig Goulding, both experienced investment bankers, founded Currensea as a ‘smarter way to pay overseas’.

Creating a debit card capable of linking directly to the user’s domestic bank account and dispensing with the complexities of top-ups, alternate accounts, etc, the company aims to give its customers an effortless, competitive and sustainable alternative to standard holiday transactions.

“We wanted the convenience of our regular high-street bank account, but without the charges,” explains Lynn. Having spent a year with the FCA and Mastercard navigating the regulatory aspects, the company finally launched in late 2019.

The shift to ‘protected payments’

Soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt regular travelling patterns. However, despite this, Currensea still managed to gain thousands of customers and garner good reviews. The explanation, Lynn believes, lies in digital payments’ ability to bring financial reassurance to people at a difficult time.

“One of the most important things to pay attention to right now is charges: at a time when individuals and businesses are feeling the squeeze, paying 3 to 5% in charges is just not acceptable.

“People are far more wary of using cash - from an economic point of view, for SMEs (small-medium enterprises), digital payments are cheaper, and consumer costs are similarly reduced,” he explains.

Furthermore, Currensea is also a champion of transparency: dispensing with opaque charge structures, it opts for all transactions to be either free or at a capped fee of 0.5%.

“Post-COVID-19, I think we will move towards a more ‘protected’ form of payments, similar to the Mastercard chargeback on faulty or unsatisfactory goods/services.

“You can have very reassuring protection if you use the right payment card. By comparison, if you were to transfer money directly, you would have no protection whatsoever.”

A surge of interest

In Lynn’s view, the utility of digital payments is two-fold: 1) a cheaper, easier and more convenient method for individuals and businesses to manage their finances; and 2) an effective way to navigate the volatile post-COVID-19 market.

“The thing about COVID is, where there are more pressures, there will be more businesses going bust. Especially since holidays are generally booked in advance and therefore have greater potential for cancellation,” he concludes.

“My guess is that we’ll see a surge of interest in card payments, as well as ‘last-minute bookings’ too, with a subsequent revision of hospitality sector policies to reflect that.”

Image sourced from Currensea website

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