Last updated 1 August 2016

Can Fintech Help Expats?

Fintech, or Financial Technology is a growing innovation that moves forward with the current trend of efficiency and mobility. There are several ways Fintech can help expats’ daily lives simply by making banking and finance overseas easier. It improves the way people transact, remit money, save and invest.

Fintech companies include mobile-only banks, peer-to-peer lending services, and insurance firms (also referred as insuretech). This trend can definitely influence the expat lifestyle in more ways than one; in fact, here are some of the novel ways Fintech can help expats: 

1. Technology-based currency transfer

While expats have been the clients of currency transfer brokers for a long time, some visionary companies such as Transferwise (that made the news for raising more than 90 Million USD from investors including Sir Richard Branson) and CurrencyFair are trying to give back more to the clients by cutting the hefty bank fees and commissions. Expats buying a home abroad or transferring their regular salaries can expect more for their dime and pay fewer fees thanks to innovative peer to peer or disintermediation. Surfing on the same trend but at the inter-bank and companies payment levels the Currency Cloud is a game changer in international payments. It allows payments to more than 212 countries worldwide within 1 – 3 days, converts over 40 currencies and provides customers access to reports and payment status in real-time.

2. 24/7, low-cost financial advisory

Financial and investment advisory are going automated as millennial investors demand on-the-go services. Some of the largest players include Wealthfront, Personal Capital, and Betterment. Investors can open an account via their mobile phones and get a tailored investment portfolio. Since software programs, and not human portfolio managers, work on accounts, customers save on annual management fees. Artificial intelligence is invading the financial world to bring more tailor-made recommendations, be it when expats are looking for a savings product or an insurance product.

3. Efficient access to credit and peer-to-peer lending

Fintech companies extend a new credit alternative for start-ups and small businesses. OnDeck processes loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as fast as 24 hours, utilizes proprietary method to evaluate creditworthiness and allows clients to draw and pay 24/7 via the OnDeck mobile app. This US Fintech has delivered more than $3 billion in loans in North America.

SocietyOne is one of the most popular peer-to-peer lending platforms today. It connects individual borrowers and investors using an efficient model. Expats may access a new source of funding for their local entrepreneurial projects.  

4. Simplified bills payments anywhere in the world

Tipalti, which recently raised $13 million in funding, supports payment to any country. It offers multiple payment methods including wire transfers, PayPal and pre-paid debit cards. Tipalti ensures that every offshore transaction is tax and regulatory compliant. Companies may simplify their back-end processes via automatic payment processing and reconciliation.

In Latin America, AstroPay is gaining popularity for its fraud-reducing payment card solution. Its prepaid virtual card may be used to pay hundreds of online merchants in various payment methods. Expats may settle bills back home in their local currency by wire transfer, cash deposits or debit transactions.

Companies like Stripe, help build standardised payment system so that expat entrepreneurs, online shopkeepers can accept multicurrency payments from many countries. This helps build a new generation of global nomads, new expats with entrepreneur spirit that can start their companies overseas when home is not the perfect turf to start up.

5. Innovative global rewards programs

Fintech companies are also reinventing rewards programs businesses can offer their loyal patrons., a hotel booking platform, has recently partnered with Visa to further help firms with their hotel booking needs. Expats who regularly travel for business are offered thousands of attractive miles and points on their hotel bookings.

Augeo customizes various rewards programs to meet each business’ unique needs. This Fintechcompany boasts of a large database of local and national offerings, partners and discounts. Some of its innovative platforms include Financial Institution Loyalty, Employee Recognition, and Customer Loyalty.

The presence of Fintech companies is expanding in various parts of the world. Currently, the top cities for this promising industry are New York, San Francisco, and London. The increasing demand, especially among young expats, is resulting to start-ups in emerging markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Not only can expats work on projects, or in start-ups that are revolutionising and taking advantage of technology in financial service, they can also take full advantage of those solutions needs as professionals living in a foreign country.

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