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Currencyfair wants to create a P2P (peer-to-peer) money transfer marketplace. They work slightly different than a regular international money transfer provider, as in this case, the money never leaves the country. It only changes hands — that way, the user can avoid any border or international processing costs. The company is based in Ireland. However, it extends its support through countries like the UK, Greece, Poland, or Singapore, to name a few.
When you use a regular money transfer service, the platform processes your payment and via their network or other banks deliver the money to your recipient. However, in the Currencyfair case, while your recipient still gets the payment delivered to him, you exchange the money with another user who also needs this currency. That way one can achieve lower potential conversion fees.
Moreover, because you choose who you want to exchange the currency with, you can set you own exchange rate or find the one suiting your needs.
“The CurrencyFair Exchange is where we bring buyers and sellers together online. We host the marketplace, ensure that everything is recorded correctly and that all transactions happen quickly and smoothly. We hold the funds, meaning you can exchange safely with other customers around the world.”
Don’t worry. It works much easier than it sounds. In the article, we will explain step by step how their features and marketplace works. Also, if you don’t want to use features like choosing your own exchange rate or order-matching, you can easily make an ordinary international money transfer. Everything else will be automatically done for you by the system. It’s just an additional features to give the customers a chance for a cheaper and better exchange rates.
Transfer to the platform to exchange your money is free of charge in most cases. Potential fees could be added by your bank to process the transaction if you use a credit card, for example. All transactions out of the platform cost 3 EUR.
There could also be some additional exchange rate fees added up, depending on the amount. Usually, they are around 0.3%-0.06% of the amount. But you can save up on this part if you find an attractive below-market-rate exchange opportunity.
There is an interesting promotion, where CurrencyFair offers up to 5 free transfers for the new users. However, more details are needed to evaluate if there aren’t any hidden costs or some catch.
The interesting feature of CurrencyFair is that they don’t offer you a particular or marked-up exchange rate, but allow you to find your own suitable offer and exchange the currency with another user via a “Choose Your Rate” option.
The process can be automatic, and you can just click a button to find an instant but regular-priced match. But you can also adjust your requirements and choose the rate that you are interested in. In this case, you will have to wait some time for an offer to appear. The platform enables an alert to notify you via an email when an interesting exchange offer appears on the marketplace.
They explain the advantage of this offer-matching system:
“The reason why CurrencyFair is so much cheaper than banks and other money transfer companies is because we can match you with our other users who are also looking for the fairest rate.”
In their FAQ section, you can find answers to questions like: “What rate should I choose?” or “When will my Exchange take place?” As you need to take into consideration the market fluctuations and forex market situation when choosing an optimal rate. Remember that other users may also want to buy your currency for that cheaper price. They explain that:
“Your exchange will take place if the best rate available now moves to match your rate and stays at that rate until you are at the top of the queue.”
There is no information about any transfer limits. Therefore, one may assume that after verification, you can send as much money as you want. Providing, there is enough currency exchange offers on their marketplace.
The biggest advantage over banks or other financial institutions and platforms is that CurrencyFair allows you to get your own exchange rate. There are no hidden markups or unfavourable automatic rates that you have no control over. The sole flat fee of 3 EUR for an outgoing transfer is also much cheaper than in most of the platforms. However, when it comes to the transfer speed, the overall time is similar to the bank offers.
To use the platform, all you have to do is open an account, which you can easily do on their webpage. You can read in the instructions that:
“To fully activate your CurrencyFair account, we need verify your identity. To do this you may need to submit a copy of your passport and / or drivers licence, as well as proof of address.”
Visit the CurrencyFair website and click the “sign up” button at the top of the page. Fill out the basic information, provide your email, create a strong password, and then go to the next part of the process. There is also an option to create your account by using your Facebook account, which may speed up the process.
As with any other legal, financial services, you need to provide your information and upload images of your ID for the identity verification. You need to scan it, or you can simply take photos with your smartphone and upload it to their site. Sometimes, you have to take a photo of you holding the documents so that they know it’s really you.
The funds are kept in separate accounts and not combined with the company’s funds. A 256 bit encryption secures the user connection to the platform, and you can enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for your account.
The company has won multiple awards and was publicly recognized for its innovative technology and financial services. For example, CurrencyFair appeared on Silicon Republic's list of the “Top 100 Startups to watch in 2018” or won the “IIA Dot IE Net Visionary Awards for Most Insightful and Intriguing Internet Innovation.”
The significant majority of reviews available online praise the platform and it’s exchange rates.
“Excellent exchange rate and service. Be prepared though to provide a ton of documentation due to the anti laundering regulation.” ~ says PH on TrustPilot
“Super easy to set up and use. Best rates with low fees. I have used it for years without issues.” ~ Ivonne on TrustPilot
The negative comments focus on the very detailed and tedious verification process or delayed transfers.
“Its been a week and i have no news about the money i SENT to them. The customer service is rude and its not helping at all. So far I sent to them 500 euros (to pound) and they have just disappeared. I’m shocked by the customer service and quite worried about my money.” ~ Lou on ICOMPAREFX
“After researching who to use to transfer/exchange currencies between personal accounts, I settled on CurrencyFair due to the overwhelming number of positive reviews... They have overpromised and underdelivered, leaving me in a difficult position. This was not a small transfer I made, but I had made plans to be able to access this money in my foreign account when CurrencyFair said it would be ready. Now, ON the day the money was meant to arrive, CurrencyFair has told me it will arrive 4 days later than they initially said which is unacceptable. No email confirmation or message, there's just a small 'update section' on the website where my login is.[...]There is nobody I can speak to and they seem to actively hide any telephone numbers where you can speak to someone directly. Everything is done through their troubleshooting online with FAQ's. [...] ~ complains Joseph in his Trustpilot review of CurrencyFair
But most of the Currencyfair reviews are positive. Therefore, the overall evaluation of the platform should be rather good and reliable to use.
There is a special form on the Currencyfair webpage in the Contact section, where you can choose the subject of the message. Type in your problem, and the company should email you back within 24 hours. There is also a help section with various articles that explain how to use the platform.
Users report that it may be hard sometimes to reach or speak directly to a consultant, as they often redirect users to the FAQ section or the contact form on their website. All of it delays the process of getting help, as it takes time to respond to the emails.
Undoubtedly, Currencyfair is an interesting platform. With the “Choose Your Own Rate” feature and the build-in marketplace for exchanging currency with other users, you can achieve cheaper rates. And the prices may be significantly lower than with any other mainstream bank or financial institution. The platform has a decent design, and it seems quite intuitive and easy to use. A potential drawback may be customer support and limited means to reach them, especially when there is an urgent situation. However, most people are happy with the service and would recommend it to others.
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