Easy and fast account transfers are a must have for today’s global citizens

By Diego Maldonado, Sr. Director, Visa Direct Commercialisation Strategy, 07/02/2024

Transformative changes in digital technology, advances in money movement and flexible work have made it easier for individuals to move around the globe—for short-term stays or permanent migration.

Most recently, we’ve seen the emergence of digital nomads or location-independent workers, individuals who combine working remotely and traveling. While the growth trajectory of digital nomads appeared to have peaked during the pandemic,¹ this group—which may include up to 35 million people globally²—continues to expand and present opportunities for individuals and businesses alike.

Digital nomads represent only one group of migrants. Individuals change countries for many reasons—work and educational opportunities, family responsibilities and more. Migrants, accounting for approximately 185 million people worldwide,³ are a significant part of the population in many countries.

Regardless of the reason behind an international move, migrants across the globe require access to funds in their new location. Based on recent analysis, they transfer upwards of $500 billion globally for their needs, including student expenses, investments in brokerage accounts, monthly salary transfers to family back home and more.⁴

Cross-border me-to-me funds transfer remains challenging

Even with digital innovation, it’s still not always easy to establish a new financial home base when working, studying or living in a new country. I experienced this first-hand when I migrated to the U.S. more than a decade ago. I had to move my savings for graduate school from my bank account in Colombia to a new bank account in the U.S. This proved difficult as I hadn’t opened my bank account in the U.S. before traveling to start school.

Thankfully, today there are more options than when I migrated, but there still can be challenges and friction when it comes to transferring money between accounts across borders—a global market estimated at $23 trillion.⁵

Long delays continue to be an issue with 65% of surveyed account transfers globally taking up to 3 to 5 days.⁵

Foreign exchange (FX) fluctuations often present additional challenges with cross-border money transfers. FX rates change constantly, and delays in transferring money between accounts can create uncertainty about the amount that will ultimately be deposited into an individual’s account.

In addition, account transfers across borders are often riddled with complexity and inconvenience. For instance, some banks, even today, require an individual to appear in-person to transfer large amounts of money—either in their new country or back in their country of origin, where they are sending the money from—due to anti-money laundering and fraud policies or other requirements.

Finally, as the incidence of fraud and financial crime continues to grow, security remains an important concern and priority for customers. Individuals want the assurance that their money will arrive securely at its intended destination.

Opportunity ahead

Today, individuals—including digital nomads, international students and other migrants—have a growing universe of choices as to how they move their money. And, as consumers continue to travel more, and inherently become more global, they expect their financial institutions—and other organizations they trust—to frictionlessly move their money and to meet them where they are, both geographically and in terms of their needs.

Banks, financial institutions, businesses and payment services providers that can rise to the challenge and meet these customer needs and evolving expectations are positioned to strengthen customer loyalty and grow their business. Organizations that cannot do so, in turn, stand to lose customers. To this point, new research from Visa revealed that 69% of surveyed consumers are likely to switch financial institutions to gain access to instant funds transfers, and 53% of those surveyed are willing to pay a fee for this service.⁶

Visa Direct helps organizations meet customers’ fast money movement needs

Visa Direct helps clients boost customer loyalty and expand opportunities by reducing the friction that exists when transferring money between different accounts, especially across borders,⁷ using eligible debit cards, and delivering a seamless payments experience. Importantly, we offer both send and receive capabilities so clients can meet the needs of migrants coming into a country (through receive/collect services) as well as migrants moving out (send services).

Our clients’ customers span the world, and so do our capabilities. Visa Direct enables fast,⁸ money movement to/from more than 190 countries and territories and between 8.5+ billion endpoints across cards, bank accounts and digital wallets. The extensive reach of our network allows clients to provide solutions that best meet their customers’ cross-border needs. And we make it easier and more efficient for banks and payment organizations to deliver these fast money movement capabilities because they use a single connection to Visa Direct to reach the world, instead of connecting to multiple different networks.

As cross-border money movement opportunities expand, Visa Direct is helping financial institutions and payment service providers capture new opportunities to help grow their businesses and strengthen customer loyalty. Our solutions enable the fast experiences that today’s customers want while helping clients fight fraud and reduce their compliance risk, backed by 60 years of experience in protecting the integrity of the payments ecosystem.

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