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04.24.17

Innovators’ Spotlight: Currencycloud

APIs fuel speedy and seamless global payments

By Adam Perrotta, Associate Editor

Services like Apple Pay and Uber have brought speed and simplicity to small-scale transactions—but moving money globally continues to be a complicated and time-consuming process. It often requires manual work such as cutting checks and can sometimes lead to foreign exchange losses.

Currencycloud aims to bridge that gap, offering banks and businesses the ability to transfer money more easily and efficiently using a suite of application program interfaces (APIs) that connect to Currencycloud’s global payment network and automates payments via the cloud.

Seamless money movement has been the mission driving the London-based company since it sprang to life out of a foreign exchange brokerage when its founder, Nigel Verdon, realized there was a fundamental problem with the way international payments were made.

“We expect money to move fast and efficiently. Think Uber, which many of us use regularly—often globally—and the payment process is seamless and behind the scenes,” notes Nabeel Siddiqui, Currencycloud’s vice president of North America. The company believes money should move just as seamlessly around the world for banks, financial institutions and other businesses. “There’s no reason a foreign exchange firm or bank shouldn’t be able to send and receive payments as easily as a consumer can request a ride using his Uber app,” Siddiqui says.

Getting to Know Currencycloud

Location: Headquartered in London, with global operations

Organized and open for business: 2012

Line of Business: Cross-border payments

Founders: Nigel Verdon, Mike Laven

Funding: More than $60 million in financing since launch  

Secret Sauce: Currencycloud’s Payment Engine is driving the transformation of the global payments landscape, enabling payment firms to remove the friction and inefficiencies of traditional cross-border payments using flexible APIs.

Something You Might Not Expect: In the U.S., each state has different regulations regarding the handling of money, and it can take years and a six-figure investment for businesses to be fully compliant. Through a single integration with Currencycloud’s API, companies can access multicurrency capabilities, outsource their compliance needs and get to market quickly.

The challenge in translating that process for larger, more established financial institutions lies in the infrastructure and processes—from technological to regulatory—that have been in place, in some cases, for decades, says Siddiqui.

API Power

For Currencyloud, APIs are the key to solving this problem. In lieu of a massive infrastructural overhaul, Currencycloud’s developer-friendly APIs promote ease of use and empower clients to build the payment apps and services they need atop the company’s platform, enabling digital capabilities to rest within clients’ existing systems. “Our APIs power companies who are looking to scale quickly but are held back by the intricacies of global payments, such as integrating with multiple banks and orchestrating their workflows,” notes Siddiqui.

Currencycloud’s API-based approach has led to dramatic growth. Five years since its 2012 launch, the company powers hundreds of merchant, payments and financial services clients including Klarna, the Swedish e-commerce startup that has grown into one of Europe’s biggest payments companies. Through those partnerships, Currencycloud serves millions of end users who collectively have moved more than $25 billion through the company’s technology, which can be integrated into payments platforms and global wallets. Currencycloud also offers mass digital payments and a plug-and-play, white-label solution.

Investors also have been paying attention. The company has raised more than $60 million in funding, with much of that total helping drive the company’s U.S. expansion. Its most recent $25 million investment round was led by GV—formerly known as Google Ventures—with additional participation from Rakuten FinTech Fund and Sapphire Ventures, among others.

Borderless Future

While Currencycloud has enjoyed impressive growth in the five years since its launch, the company is keeping its eye on the future. Several developments in the larger payments and commerce space hold particular promise as a natural fit for the company’s cross-border capabilities. Among those are the continued growth of mobile-based P2P remittance transfers, along with a steady shift toward a more interconnected world of B2B payments. The latter is helping drive cross-border transactions ranging from a major corporation making a supply chain payment to a vendor located in another country, to a micro-business hiring a foreign-based contractor for a small project.

Meanwhile, the rapid rise of the Internet of Things (IotT) means billions of devices will be potential sources of payments over the coming years—and many of those payments will be cross-border, Siddiqui predicts. “Smart fridges can detect when you’re running low on milk and the system will automatically add it to your online shopping list or even order it for you thanks to integration with certain credit card apps,” he notes. “Imagine that level of personalization in the financial world.” IoT-connected devices also offer access to a wealth of valuable data that can be of use to financial services providers, he adds.

Whatever the format, it’s clear that traditional borders of commerce are breaking down, and payments are becoming an increasingly global industry. For traditional players to stay relevant in this new environment, it’s vital to take that lesson to heart, Siddiqui says. “At the end of the day, if businesses can’t keep up with today’s demands of a digitally connected world, they’ll struggle to stay sustainably profitable,” he cautions. “Or worse, risk ceasing to exist against increasingly more agile, technology-savvy digital and global financial services players large and small.”

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