An interview by Jon Collins
What’s your background?
I was with Western Union for a number of years, responsible for their UK and Ireland consumer money transfer business, before heading up their B2B division for Europe – born out of the acquisitions of Custom House and Travelex Global Business Payments.
I then became the CCO for Ukash, the online alternative payments company that was recently acquired by Optimal Payments.
Whilst traditional money transfer companies have been hugely successful, it was clear technology was going to change market operations and have a big influence on business models going forward. There is massive opportunity in this sector as new, tech enabled companies challenge the traditional way in which business is done. Given this is a sector I know well, I wanted to be a part of that.
What attracted you to freemarket?
The simplicity of the proposition was compelling – to reduce the cost of currency exchange by using technology to facilitate the exchange. I knew that if we could execute the concept effectively by technology innovation, it would influence the way in which both businesses and individuals exchange currency going forward. And more importantly, although it is the world’s largest market, it is still growing.
What’s freemarket about?
We have created a market where both companies and individuals can directly match their currency requirements with their peers for a fixed service fee of 0.2% – a rate much lower than traditional foreign exchange (FX) charges.
What problem is freemarket trying to solve?
Foreign exchange is regarded as a complex product, which suits the current market incumbents perfectly – it’s profitable to operate in a space that only a few understand. Complexity costs. Simplicity on the other hand, the delivery of a single service efficiently and well, results in a substantial cost saving for all those involved.
By adapting the peer-to-peer model to the foreign exchange market, freemarket are able help businesses keep more money when exchanging currency. Essentially, we cut out the middleman and pass the savings on to the client!
What makes freemarket unique?
freemarket is the only company in our sector that operates ‘scheduled exchanges’. We aggregate the currency requirements of our clients in order to optimise the best match of currencies.
Our technology platform operates as more of a settlement system, so all of our customers’ requirements are executed at specific times, rather than individually. This model significantly reduces operational cost, which results in lower charges for our customers.
Typical of a true exchange environment, all parties benefit from total transparency, uniform pricing and fair trade.
We also have a social ethos, whereby registered charities can transact through our platform for 0% cost. Given the challenges that many charities face; raising funds, deployment of capital etc., it’s great to be able to support them in this way.
What’s next for freemarket?
Our goal at the moment is ‘growth’. Our focus is on growing both our client numbers and transactional volumes. In the meantime, we will continue to offer a viable alternative to currency exchange, coupled with a strong social conscience and a superior customer experience. Ultimately, we’re trying to make exchanging currency as simple, fair and efficient as possible.