This minimalist application, which has just obtained a license from the National Bank of Belgium, is the first to offer a single rate of €3 per transfer, including the exchange rate margin.
Is currency conversion doomed to become almost free? In any case, a new step has just been taken, with the granting of a license to Atlantic Money by the National Bank of Belgium. Launched last March in the United Kingdom, this start-up specializing in international money transfers will be able to operate throughout the European Union thanks to the financial passport, and to offer a unique service to date: the possibility of making transfers for a single rate of three euros per transactionconversion included.
For a Belgian individual wishing, for example, to transfer a million euros to a British account, the difference is beyond measure. At 4:20 p.m. on Monday, BNP Paribas Fortis offered to exchange 0.8551 pounds sterling per euro, against 0.8609 for the real exchange rate at the same minute. This less halfpenny would have made this individual lose exactly 5,800 euros on its initial million euros if it had gone through BNP Paribas Fortis… compared to only three euros with Atlantic Money.
This favorable differential for the British start-up is verified for all money transfers over 1,000 euros, including in the face of services that have disrupted the sector over the past ten years, such as Wise, Currency Fair, Paypal, XE or FairFX. These generally give themselves a margin of 0.5%, comparable to that of the big banks. The latter had to adapt to the peer-to-peer money transfer revolution, after decades of enjoying the Wild West of exchange rateswith margins that could be up to twenty times greater than current margins.
Atlantic Money keeps a low profile on the market it targets – international money transfer only – while adopting an aggressive strategy vis-à-vis existing players. “The previous generation of fintechs disrupted banks, with better technology and lower fees, but they preserved the status quo by taking disproportionate margins from the largest customers,” says Atlantic Money.
“There is therefore no justification for charging a different rate for a service that is exactly the same.”
Atlantic Money calls for reverse the logic that has always prevailed in the industry. “Commissions are based on the amount of money that is transferred. The more money you send, the more you pay. So you pay for those who send less. It’s unfair. Banks don’t charge a progressive commission for domestic transfers, so why would it be any different for international transfers?”
Soon in Belgium
Can Atlantic Money’s business model, with only three euros earned per transfer, be profitable? Founders Patrick Kavanagh and Neeraj Baid, both former employees of the Robinhood trading platform, based it on the principle that each transfer, by itself, costs a provider nothing: “The progressive commissions that are charged of the customer do not exist. Whether you send 100 euros or a million euros, the cost is the same. There is therefore no justification for charging a different price for a service that is exactly the same.”
“Fintechs cannot compete. Unless they completely change their business model.”
The service will be launched in the coming weeks in Belgium, then in Germany and Austria, before the rest of the European Union. The license granted by the regulator guarantees the money paid into the Atlantic Money account before the transfer, as with any other bank.
The revolution is therefore not over, and the reactions of other fintechs are awaited. “They can’t compete,” promises Atlantic Money. “Unless they completely change their business model.”