Digital payments can bring reassurance post-COVID-19
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 and 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%.
“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
Nymbus enters strategic partnership with Plaid
Nymbus, a leading provider of banking technology solutions, has partnered with Plaid, a data network powering the digital financial ecosystem, to more instantly authenticate and fund customer bank accounts for financial institutions.
This new integration will allow Nymbus bank and credit union clients to securely onboard new users in a matter of seconds, which in turn translates to more active and engaged banking experiences. Plaid’s data network enables consumers to connect their financial accounts at over 11,000 institutions globally to more than 5,000 digital finance apps, including leading payments, investing, and budgeting tools.
What are the benefits of the integration?
Benefits of the Nymbus and Plaid integration for financial institution customers include:
- Improve user identity verification and reduce fraud.
- Instantly authenticate and link members’ bank accounts.
- Streamline ACH transfers between any bank or credit union in the US.
- Access and analyse comprehensive transaction data.
- Validate real-time account balances to protect against overdraft and enable account pre-funding.
“As more consumers than ever before rely on digital finances for their everyday lives, financial institutions need to meet their customers where they are while supporting safe and reliable money management experiences,” said Sarah Howell, Chief Alliance Officer at Nymbus. “Our expanding network of partners are important contributors to Nymbus’ combined portfolio of the technology, people and process available to quickly innovate with new routes to market and revenue streams.”
Continuous growth and expanding partnerships
Founded in 2015, Nymbus has continued to grow. Most recently the company has closed a new round of financing led by the Curql Fund. The US$5 million investment will be used towards Nymbus CUSO and accelerate a shared commitment to breakthrough technology for ensuring continued growth and stability for the credit union community.
Nymbus CUSO was founded in March 2021 to help break through barriers to growth, and its mission is to connect credit unions with trusted fintech offerings that both simplify technology delivery and enable new digital revenue opportunities.
Last year Plaid set a goal to move 75% of its traffic to APIs by the close of 2021, calling it “one of our top priorities as the industry moves full-steam ahead toward a fully digital financial system.”
Recently it has announced an open finance partnership with Capital One, a digital finance innovator, and the successful completion of its migration to the Capital One API. They have also completed or have in-motion data access agreements with major US financial institutions, including U.S. Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and others.