This week: Apple,, Casco, Euronet, Facebook, Google, MoneyGram, OFX, PayPal, Spreedly, Uber, Visa, Westpac
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New data, new insights on cross-border payments. Every week.

Big tech is making a big play into finance with plenty of recent news coverage (including in this week's Economist featuring FXC Intelligence). We break down how will this affect the cross-border payments industry. Plus, insights from our pricing data in the UAE and after MoneyGram's roller-coaster week, we take a look at the most volatile payments stocks.

Big tech's clear approach

The news has been recently filled with big tech announcing products and strategies aimed at the financial services space. Some directly at cross-border payments, some indirectly. There's been a lot of fear-mongering going on too - we try to get to the bottom of what's realistic and what's not.

The big picture
Big tech pushing into finance is not new but a renewed effort is certainly at play. Why? 

  1. Big tech does not want to be big finance (the banks) and it doesn't want to be valued like big finance. Big finance is too highly regulated, requires substantial balance sheets and infrastructure. Moreover the competition authorities and regulators are simply not going to let it happen.
  2. Big tech does want to understand big finance and wants the data. Much of big tech still does not know enough about the day to day financial habits of consumers. Financial services and payments in particular are a very sticky way to engage with users.
  3. Most of the companies and products in our graphic above can facilitate cross-border payments. Others like Facebook Pay could be expected to expand to cross-border at some point. So don't think cross-border payments is out of scope.
Why big tech is pushing into finance
There are many reasons - the biggest as we see them:
  • For data: Bank accounts (Google). But realistically, everyone wants the data.
  • Launch new products and open new revenue lines: Credit cards (Apple & Uber)
  • Engage with new customers: e-wallets (Uber), Libra (Facebook)
  • Keep existing customers in the ecosystem: Google Pay and Facebook Pay 
Who could be most at risk?
  • The new digital banks. Alone, these new players have been taking share from the traditional banks but big tech partnering with the big banks could give big finance a new boost.
  • At any point, the tech companies could decide to grab market share by offering any of the services above for free (their upside is the data). Cross-border payments could be one of those products.
Overall, most of the big initiatives are at an early stage or yet to launch. The US is the primary testing ground as it is a known market and home territory for the tech players above. Cross-border payments will be impacted either directly or indirectly by virtually all the initiatives shown above. To what degree, it's too early to tell.
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Pricing in the UAE - plenty to fight over

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the largest remittance markets in the world, with outflows of approximately $33bn a year according to the latest World Bank estimates. It's also an area that's been getting increasing attention from the payments world, whether it's the recent IPO from UAE Exchange parent company Finablr or TransferWise's recent announcements that they would be entering the UAE in 2020. 

Both banks and traditional foreign currency exchanges have a strong presence in the UAE. However, unlike many other markets there is often little price difference between the two, the UAE is quite different. Below where we highlight the total cost for sending 10K AED to the US.

To track the pricing of all the leading players globally including in UAE, get in touch.

Need data via API, need it historically? Contact us to get ahead.

Get the best pricing data in the industry's IPO plan and international focus's filing document for its planned IPO mentions the word "international" 32 times. For a company that was until recently just focused on solving US companies domestic payables needs, the planned IPO gives a good indication of where is going.

As we've covered previously, competes with a range of other players in the small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) payment simplification area (e.g. Veem, Tipalti). It also competes with all the known accounting integrations that many other payment companies offer (e.g. TransferMate, TransferWise, WorldFirst with Xero, Sage, Quickbooks). says it has processed around $500m in international payments to date having only launched a year ago. Expect this number to grow substantially as it wins share from the FX-only incumbents. 

Who are's competitors in cross-border payments?

How volatile are public payment companies?

Last week was not for the faint hearted among MoneyGram's shareholders. On Nov 13th, the stock fell almost 27% as its largest shareholder (private equity fund TH Lee) had a mass selloff via its limited partners. Two days later, MoneyGram announced some planned cost cutting at corporate in Dallas and the stock bounced back almost 10%.

Is MoneyGram the most volatile cross-border payments stock or was this just a busy news week? 

To answer the question, over the last three years, MoneyGram is far and away the most volatile stock amongst its peers.

Note: We used the standard Beta value measure of stock market volatility. A Beta value equal to 1 means a stock moves in line with the market, greater than one means it is more volatile than the market and less than one, less volatile. A negative value (e.g. for OFX) means the stock moves in the opposite direction to the stock market.

Need help analysing a public payments company
On our radar this week:
Curated by FXC Intelligence's Team
Big tech takes aim at retail banking
They want your data, not your money.
(Featuring FXC Intelligence)
The Economist
Westpac's AU$7.5bn breach
The Aussie bank is accused of Australia’s biggest money laundering breach. (paywall)
Spreedly raises $75m
For tokenised payments across hundreds of ecommerce platforms.
The Paypers
Equals Group buys Casco
Another M&A transaction in the space as Equals continues to grow.

Missed the last few weeks?

Private equity's cross-border payment strategy (here)
Why Santander bought Ebury (here)
The hottest trends in cross-border payments and Money20/20 (here)
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Have a super week!

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