Running a business presents many challenges but even more so when its primary activity is to facilitate financial transactions. Jamie Holmes, director of Leeds based foreign exchange broker CurrencyWave, knows only too well the hurdles involved having spent a career in financial services spanning over 30 years. Back in 1986, Jamie left school halfway through his ‘A’ levels at the age of 17 to pursue a career in stockbroking, a decision he says was bold in hindsight.
“In those days if you wanted to be a stockbroker you needed to come from the right background with family connections, a private education, and a first-class degree”, says Jamie. “I came from a very ordinary background and had no degree but somehow I managed to persuade the senior partner to give me a try.”
What Jamie didn’t know at the time was that he was about to witness one of the most tumultuous periods the stock-market had ever seen. Only a couple of weeks before, ‘Big-Bang’ had abolished fixed rate commissions in the industry and transactions moved from floor based open-outcry to electronic screen trading. This meant that trading costs were reduced significantly which led to a surge in trading volumes and pushed the market to all-time highs.
Fast forward 30 plus years and Jamie sees similarities between the ground-breaking changes Big Bang brought about and the current transformation of financial services with Fintech providers. Jamie is the founder of CurrencyWave, one of a new generation of brokers that is challenging the banks’ dominance in the foreign exchange and international payments market. CurrencyWave uses technology to reduce the complexity and cost of currency transactions experienced by mid-sized businesses and individuals.
Rather than build their own payments infrastructure, CurrencyWave chose to partner with Currencycloud, a leading payment technology provider. Currencycloud’s trusted payments platform has recently been adopted by VISA Inc. to make it easier for VISA cardholders to manage their money when travelling, offering in-demand services like multi-currency wallets and real time notifications on foreign exchange transactions.
Says Jamie, “One of the biggest challenges in financial services today is overcoming the trust barrier that any potential client might have. If you are using a bank with a long-established brand then this is not an issue, even with the terrible reputation they’ve experienced in recent years. Quite rightly one of the most common questions we get asked is how can we be trusted to handle customer payments securely.”
Added Jamie, “The VISA tie up is a game changer for us. Customers can use the platform safe in the knowledge that the world’s largest digital payments company has already kicked the tyres and trusts it sufficiently to roll out to millions of their customers worldwide”
That 17-year-old boy, who broke into stockbroking all those years ago, would be just as excited at the prospect of Fintechs taking on the banks today and winning at their own game.