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This week: Ant Financial, Finablr, MoneyGram, Ria, Swift, TransferWise, UAE Exchange, Western Union, WorldFirst 
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New data, new insights on international payments. Every week.
 

How the big players are performing

Before we get started, the big news of the day is Ant Financial completed its acquisition of WorldFirst. More on that below.

Elsewhere, the big three public companies all reported 2018 full year results this past week with wide ranging performances. 

Top performing is Ria (owned by Euronet). Year over year growth was 16% which compares favourably to Western Union at 3% and MoneyGram which declined 11% (but did stabilise in Q4).

As a core indicator of competitive pressures globally (from both digital and offline competition), we've looked at how overall pricing has changed in 2018.
Pricing pressure remains but not nearly as much as you'd think. The market of opportunity appears to be Latin America where Western Union was even able to raise prices. We've seen more and more players focusing on Latam too.

Some other takeaways from the results:
  1. Payout capability to digital wallets will only increase in importance. Credit to MoneyGram who have started their partnership with Ant Financial and the 700 million Alipay wallet holders. Expect to see a lot more wallet partnerships over the next year.
  2. Western Union, Ria and MoneyGram are major digital players with c.$1bn in digital revenue between them. Their growth rates in digital are in line with the venture-backed players in the space. You can't ignore them.
  3. Western Union Business Solutions, the subject of an expected sale in late 2018, has been slowly turning itself around with results for 2018 showing a halt to the division's declining revenue. Margins nearly doubled but still remain low at c.6%. 
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The next big IPO - Finablr

News out of Dubai this week from the owner of newly formed payments conglomerate Finablr is the company plans to seek an IPO in London in March.

Finablr's core was UAE Exchange until it bought Travelex for a reported $1.14bn in 2015. Since then, it has grown both organically, by developing its own brands such as Unimoni, and by investing in startups such as Swych.
This is not the first time an IPO for the group has been mooted. With the company signing a 10 year lease in December for over 11,000 Sq ft of London offices in a new tower development in Old Street, however, this may now be the time.

Finablr has held its financials close to its chest to date. FX flows are understood to be around $100bn but no operating financials have been publicly shared. A public markets listing will shed some light and add a new comparable to the three public giants we cover above.

A good response from investors to the listing will be good news for the sector.
Learn more about publicly listed payments companies

Ant Financial completes WorldFirst acquisition

It has been confirmed today that Ant Financial has bought WorldFirst. Congratulations to the founders and team at WorldFirst - a great UK fintech success story. We look forward to seeing what Ant's ownership does for the company.

We provided full analysis on the deal here and how it compares to other deals in the sector here. The wrinkle, which has now been widely reported, was having to close their US operations but that clearly helped get the deal across the line.
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Pricing insight #3

In this week's pricing insight, we show how introductory offers are used by firms trying to entice new customers. One of the benefits of offering no fee on first transfers, or a lower FX rate for new customers is the ability to beat a market front-runner (such as TransferWise).

Our pricing data helps you spot examples of firms employing this tactic. One example for the UK to India corridor is below - our FX pricing data clients get to see who the companies are.
As you can see, once the introductory rates/fees disappear, total cost rises significantly. The question for providers employing this strategy then is how many users will notice the increase and decide to shop around again?
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Want to showcase your FX product, speed and price to the industry. Add it to our FX Pricing API. Get in touch to find out more.
 
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On our radar this week:
Curated by FXC Intelligence's Team 
The battle for Earthport continues

Visa ups its bid. Am not sure when this is going to stop!

Reuters
Monzo to enter business banking

Beta testing starts for the neo-banks new business offering

Finextra
Swift's answer to Ripple

Does Swift gpi solve for cost, speed, transparency, convenience and security?

American Banker
Revolut - will you be my valentine

Revolut may be in hot water over its "single shaming" ad.

BBC

Missed the last few weeks - it's been pricing, Revolut and M&A

A new standard for FX pricing (here)
Revolut and marketing (here)
British and Canadian Payment companies are hot (here)
The neo-banks emerge in the cross-border world (here).
Sign up to our newsletter - stay ahead in 2019
Have an absolutely tremendous week,

Daniel
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