Founded in Dublin in May 2010, CurrencyFair is one of several rapidly growing peer to peer (P2P) currency exchange companies. Founded by Australian expat Bret Myers, partners Jonathan Potter, Sean Burrett and David Christian were assembled because of their common experience as bankers and expats seeking the best exchange rates they could acquire. Headquartered in Dublin, the company has offices in Australia and England.
The P2P currency exchange concept is basically very straightforward. A P2P platform connects buyers and sellers with complementary currency exchange requirements, by accounts established by the firm, so that a steady fund of currency can be accessed their an online platform. The premise that harnessing the power of the crowd allows for better rates than banks or other traditional exchange companies doesn’t work to delver better rates in all cases. For small transfers, it may be the best rate, but for larger amounts, since most clients in the UK, for instance, will be exchanging Sterling, there’s plenty of that currency available so the rate works out at about what a traditional Forex company offers. Worse, for large amounts, since CurrencyFair has a fixed .35% fee for all amounts, clients using a dedicated dealer would be able to get a better rate negotiated.
Currency Fair has not been available in the US since 2013 due to American Financial Regulations.
CurrencyFair’s Options are The Marketplace and QuickTrade:
CurrencyFair refers to itself a Marketplace
The rates available in their Marketplace represent buyers and sellers seeking to get the best rates of exchange in the various currencies. Their “Best Available Now” section shows the other people trading in the opposite direction to the client. The rates in the “Better Requested” section represent other people trading in the same direction as the client.
Clients can post their own desired rate and wait to see if someone else trading in the opposite direction matches the client’s request.
Marketplace’s pace depends on the currencies being exchanged, how competitive the rate selected is, and movements in the local and global markets for those currencies.
The advantage is the possibility of getting a better rate than the current rate if the market moves in the clients advantage.
The disadvantages are that market rate fluctuations could well cause the currency value to fall in the process of waiting; also there’s the time consuming process of doing what a dealer would do for a client with a traditional foreign exchange firm.
In the Quicktrade option, a client opens an account and deposits money into the account seeking to convert their money into their desired currency by immediately matching it to the best rate available. This sounds deceptively simple, but as CurrencyFair explains: “If you are trying to sell £1000 and buy euros, it could be that you are exchanging with 5 different people who only want to buy £200, at 5 different (albeit excellent) rates.”
Quicktrade promises to deliver the weighted average rate by the effortless click of a button, resolving one of the biggest complaints competitor TransferWise’s clients have about slow deposits.
CurrencyFair charges a fixed fee of 0.35% of the amount exchanged, not matter how high the amount is, which works well for small transfers but isn’t as competitive with larger amounts, given the traditional firms will offer tighter mark-ups that work out to a better exchange rate.
One-off Transfers and Regular Payments:
CurrencyFair, like other P2P currency exchange companies, works best for smaller amounts. Their fixed fee of.35% is competitive with Forex firms with fees for minimum trade. Regular Overseas Payments.
CurrencyFair has introduced the ability to set up recurring monthly remittances. Allowing clients to automate overseas payments for personal needs, such as mortgage payments; this service also works to allow business to manage recurring transactions like paying suppliers, for example.
The company’s currency calculator is the main feature the visitor sees when opening CurrencyFair’s website, so there’s an immediate transparency as the visitor knows exactly what their transfer will cost. As the visitor proceeds, seeking more information than the vague and highly unlikely claim of saving 90%, there are clearly less options than might be seen with a full service traditional foreign exchange company. This service, despite having pages dedicated to expats, can only, really focuses on catering to the needs of individuals seeking to make transfers on an online platform without the benefit of a dedicated dealer to offer advise and options. Likewise,the only business service listed is the same pair of transfer options as well as a recurring scheduled payment no forward options or risk management tools are available.
TrustPilot rates CurrencyFair 8.9 out of 10 from 1,142 client reviews. Several recent complaints of poor customer service include not getting response to emails sent as well as not being able to reach anyone by telephone during business hours. One client had stopped using the company after frustration with having to ‘always chase’ CurrencyFair in order to track transfers. Many were disappointed with the slow pace of transfers and some spoke to a slow, tedious sign up process as well. Given the savings of 90% the company advertises on their site, something must be disconnecting, and it would seem to be the customer service aspect, to give the company a rating below that other competitors.
As cool as crowd sourcing currency sounds, the reality is that companies like CurrencyFair don’t offer a range of products that save clients lots of money and time. Without a dedicated dealer, or forward contracts individual clients seeking to invest in foreign property aren’t best served by P2P platforms. When transferring large amounts a dealer can not only beat the flat fee charged by CurrencyFair, they can also help guide clients toward tools this company doesn’t have on offer. Trusting a currency expert with a range of options like hedging and fixed forwards is by one advantage of sticking with a dedicated dealer, the other is obviously that customer service is available to track transfers so clients don’t have to watch the market or wonder where their money is in the process of sending it.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
CurrencyFair is highly competitive, seeking to overtake TransferWise, the UK’s largest P2P company by offering better rates and more services in its quest to become #1.
P2P companies like CurrencyFair offer a limited range of services compared to traditional forex firms. Options of forward options and contracts help clients lock in an exchange rate.
CurrencyFair offers more than competitor Transferwise, by having both Marketplace and Quick trade options, but they still don’t have all the tools available to clients by other currency exchange companies.
Non-negotiable exchange rates can’t beat the rates offered by tradition companies who negotiate, especially with exotic currencies.
CurrencyFair’s Marketplace can be both risky and time-consuming.