Were you to have been asked that question some years ago, the answer most likely would have bee “I’m not sure”....
Fully Loaded for a fun-filled summer vacation
As I head off on my summer holidays this year I’m reminded how the world of finance has changed. Years ago, I would have trotted off to the bank to load up on travellers’ cheques (checks), carried them safely and securely in a money-belt around my waist. I would have purchased some French Francs or German DMarks in advance too.
I remember feeling a high degree of anxiety about losing them or having someone help themselves to my stash. Then there was always the hassle of having to go to a local bank while on vacation between 09:30AM and 3:30PM with a passport to convert my money into cash at some unknown rate and pay a commission for doing so.
At the end of the holiday there would be hopefully a few travellers’ cheques left over that would sit in the top draw at home. Analysts reckoned that about 10% of all travellers’ cheques were never redeemed. That’s what you call a good float. Great business model!
Today of course the choices are much wider. You can take your credit card or debit card with you. You can even use a prepaid card that allows you to load up different currencies on it, and move cash between the different pots. I use a UK pound denominated debit card that has no ATM withdrawal fees, an attractive conversion rate, which also sits inside my phone wallet. You don’t have to warn the banks that you are travelling either – they expect you to travel and deploy ever more fancy Fraud Management systems, asking you via SMS in near-real-time to confirm suspicious transactions.
So the more I travel around the globe, the more I appear to drive card transactions over the international Card networks. This activity is driving more business for my Card Issuers, for the card Acquirers where I spend or access money at ATMs, and also for the forex business that the Card Scheme and Issuer both play a part in.
With the growth of contactless acceptance at merchants we are witnessing a growth in the quantity of transactions processed. Contactless encourages payment by card for even small-value purchases, and while pushing down average values of each transaction, it’s increasing the card volumes year-on-year. OmniPayments (and other imitators) are playing a key role in handling all these payment methods and values. While a lot of older infrastructure is creaking under the load, OmniPayments just goes from strength to strength!
I could also consider the pre-purchase euros of course before my sojourn into Europe, but I haven’t bothered. I’ll either pay at a merchant or restaurant with a card, or withdraw cash from ATMs for those smaller purchases where cash is required.
Roll on those hazy days of summer.
Craig steers Business Development for OmniPayments across the EMEA & Asia regions.