How do multicurrency accounts work?

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For SMEs who conduct business globally, attempting to open up bank accounts in different currencies can turn into an expensive and complicated process.  A few leading international money transfer companies are addressing this pain point by offering their customers multicurrency accounts.  Such accounts let you hold balances, receive payments, and transfer money as if you had local bank accounts around the world, and all from a single online platform or mobile app.

International Money Transfer Companies Set the Trend

Transferwise's Borderless Account

Two popular FinTech companies based in the UK, Transferwise and World First, are pioneering the shift towards multicurrency accounts.  Transferwise recently launched its Borderless Account for SMEs, sole proprietors, and online sellers.  Unlike with traditional bank accounts, there are no set-up fees, no monthly fees, and no transfer fees.  In addition, Transferwise charges the real “midmarket” exchange rate (what shows up on Google or XE), and there is “just a small, fair charge when your money moves between currencies.” 

Upon registering for the Borderless Account, you will receive local account details, such as routing numbers and account numbers, for the US, UK, and Europe.  You can also hold and manage your money in 27 different currencies, as well as send funds in any of the 50+ currencies on Transferwise’s platform.  According to Taavet Hinrikus, CEO and co-founder of TransferWise, "The infrastructure we've built can help people do more than just transfer money. It can help them manage their international finances completely differently, giving them more freedom and control."

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World First's World Account

The World First World Account, which is expected to become available by the end of this summer, will operate similarly to the Borderless Account and targets the same type of user.  If you’d like to stake a claim to a World Account early, you can pre-register on World First’s web site.  With this new service, World First is continuing its drive to improve the money transfer experience for SMEs.  Despite making significant contributions to the economy, they are typically underserved by traditional financial institutions.  Co-founder and CEO Jonathan Quin thinks, “It’s time that small and medium-sized businesses enjoyed the same products, price and service that was only previously available to big businesses.”

Payoneer's Global Payment Service

Across the pond in New York, cross-border payments company Payoneer offers a more limited type of multicurrency account.  Through its Global Payment Service, you can get receiving accounts in the US, UK, Europe, Japan, and China.  That means that you can receive payments in these countries’ currencies, from customers and online marketplaces for example, directly into your Payoneer account.  Payoneer customers can also sign up for a prepaid Mastercard that is supported in over 200 countries and 150 currencies.

Benefits to Borderless

By relying on multicurrency accounts and services like the ones described above, you can dramatically reduce costs and streamline your money transfer processes.  You can also lower the foreign currency risk that comes from volatile exchange rates by holding and managing money in local currencies.  So rather than sticking with old methods, why not take advantage of the latest trends that were started with exactly you in mind!


Marisa Fasciano
Content Specialist
Marisa is a communications consultant based in New York with a background in social research, diversity education, and nonprofit development.  She has lived and traveled abroad extensively… Read more

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