News Article

Open banking, crypto, BNPL, and cross-border exchange explained

Meet the new guard of payments: open banking, cryptocurrency, Buy Now, Pay Later, and
cross-border foreign exchange. Sounds like jargon? Here we talk you through what all
the terms mean, and you'll find a full list of phrases in our payments glossary

Open banking

What is open banking? Basically, open banking is data sharing between financial institutions and people.

It means customers who agree to open banking can, among other things, get a single view of their funds across different financial services. It’s easier for users to do side-by-side comparisons of financial products, helping them access more choice. It can also make sending and receiving funds easier.

Open banking means companies that create application programming interfaces (APIs) are able to provide financial services via technology without having a physical presence, like a branch on the high street.

Why is open banking important? This is a big one for the financial services industry because it has the potential to transform the way people and businesses make payments and financial decisions. And it’s a high value sector - the global open banking market is expected to reach $37.77 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 25.7%. Europe is estimated to witness the highest CAGR of 24.0% from 2019 to 2026.

It’s also an area of significant growth with financial institutions as eight out of 10 financial firms are adopting or planning to adopt open banking, or are interested in doing so.

Who we work with: Weavr has an Open Banking proposition and allows businesses to embed banking and payments into their mobile app or SaaS platforms. They were selected as part of the Fintech 4.0 cohort for 2021/22 by Tech Nation and also closed a £7 million seed funding round in 2021.

Launched in 2019, GPS customer Currensea  has the UK’s first direct debit travel card, and it uses open banking. They explain: “Currensea is a layer in front of your current bank account, giving you extra security and making your bank work that bit harder.” You can read more about Currensea in our case study.


Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

What is Buy Now, Pay Later? A financial scheme where customers can buy something and get the items immediately, but their payments are split and paid back in the future. This means people who don’t have access to credit cards or funds at that time, can still buy items.

Unlike credit cards, customers pay 0% interest. The BNPL provider makes profit from a fee received by the merchant each time a customer uses the scheme.

Why is Buy Now, Pay Later important? It’s changing the way people buy things, in fact, 9.5 million Brits said that they avoided buying from retailers that don't offer BNPL services. It’s experiencing a huge surge in popularity, not just in Britain, but around the world too - the global Buy Now, Pay Later market size is expected to reach USD$20.40 billion by 2028.

Who we work with: Paidy - the biggest BNPL player in Japan - allows its six million registered users to split the cost of goods into three equal instalments with no interest. 2021 was quite a year for them. Paypal agreed to acquire Paidy for ¥300 billion, or approximately US$2.7 billion, principally in cash and Paidy was valued at $1.3bn when it raised $120m in March 2021. It’s one of Japan’s ‘unicorns’, or start-ups worth more than $1 billion.

2021 was also a stellar year for our customer Zilch too, who became a certified double unicorn. The BNPL closed their Series C at a $2bn valuation - they're the fastest European fintech ever to hit the $1bn mark, going from Series A to unicorn in just 14 months.

It’s 2022 that could be a key year for our New Zealand Buy Now, Pay Later customer LayBuy who’s active customers now exceed 900,000 globally. It explained it remains on track to reach its target of $1 billion GMV for financial year 2022.


Cross-border payments

What are cross-border payments? This is very simple – payments which cross geographical borders and involve currency conversion.

Why are cross-border payments important? The pandemic has meant that more transactions are now digital. Teamed with the fact that people are increasingly operating more remotely and on a global scale - 33% of workers now expecting to work remotely between one and five days a week, employers are having to adapt to the concept of the ‘borderless office’. As a result, there's been a real need for effective cross-border payments and cross-border foreign exchange.

A traditional way to spend abroad has been using cash, which can be more time consuming and expensive for consumers. Studies suggest that travellers from the UK can have as much as £90 in spare currency following a holiday, meaning that they could collectively be sitting on over £3.5 billion of spare change. Using a mobile wallet for cross-border payments instead can save people time and effort and can be a great budget management tool too.

Who we work with: Our customer Crosscard, who offers products across B2B and B2C sectors, has processed more than 100 million payments and issued over three million cards.

More than 600,000 people send and receive money with another GPS customer - Caxton. These international payments experts have a £1 billion annual turnover and 8.6 million transactions are processed each year. Plus, they secured more than £1.5 million from investors on Crowdcube in 2021.


Cryptocurrency

What is cryptocurrency? Essentially it’s digital currency which can be used to purchase items. It’s not a physical currency, instead it can be stored in a ‘digital wallet’ on a device – this can be called a blockchain wallet. Blockchain Wallet can also refer to the wallet service provided by Blockchain

The most well-known cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, however there are thousands. The value of cryptocurrencies can be notoriously volatile. For example, Bitcoin reached new highs in 2021, but then dipped again.

Why is cryptocurrency important? Although thoughts on the future of cryptocurrency varies, arguably there is the agreement this is an area which will impact way we look at money. In recent years there has been significant growth in the amount of people engaging with cryptocurrencies. Between January 2020 and November 2021, the number of blockchain wallet users climbed by more than 85% to about 80 million – up from 44.4 million at the end of 2019.

Visa’s survey across eight markets (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, South Africa, the U.K. and U.S.) revealed awareness of crypto is 94% globally among survey participants with discretion over their household finances.

Geographically 37% of crypto-aware adults surveyed in emerging markets use or own crypto, compared to 29% in developed markets.

A key stat that demonstrates growth is that nearly one in three crypto-aware adults surveyed already own or use cryptocurrency, and the majority of that group (62%) say their use has increased in the past year.

Customers we work with: Our customer Xapo first launched to the public in 2014 and relaunched in 2021 as a digital bank. Since first launch it’s grown to serve over a million customers worldwide. They explain “we've built a Bitcoin-friendly bank...”.

GPS customer Ziglu is a UK-based, FCA regulated cryptocurrency challenger who’ve seen significant recent customer growth - quadrupling its customer base over the course of 2021. Between May and July 2021 they were onboarding a new customer every three minutes! Their crowdfunding round in 2021 closed early after raising £7.19 million.