Using technology to simplify currency conversion for small business


With the growing integration of currency converter technologies into commerce platforms across the world, it’s easy to forget the complex trading that is happening in the background. From Amazon to eBay, many organisations now have currency conversion built into their online interface to make it easier for customers to convert their native currency into the purchase currency.

Lately there are signs of a shift in Australia, as small business importers and exporters begin to recognise the benefits of foreign exchange technologies to simplify regular transactions with foreign companies, and increase security and trading confidence.

However, according to a recent article in the Financial Review, a large percentage of small businesses in Australia are yet to adopt this technology in their day-to-day business. A recent survey conducted by AFEX suggested that 51% of businesses don’t review their foreign exchange policy, whereas 48% were open to the possibility of adopting a new form of technology within their organisation.  

Limited installation of integrated currency converter platforms has created a barrier to entry, as unnecessary fees and overheads are often imposed by trading institutions.

The more overseas transactions a business is making, the more savings are available. For businesses conducting a significant number of transactions with the same supplier, initiatives such as hedging can significantly save conversion costs when currency is bouncing all over the place.

If you are in this situation, speak with your financial advisors for advice.

Western Union’s WE Edge converts 150 currencies

Western Union has released WU Edge; a B2B platform designed to deal with 150 different currencies worldwide. These type of technologies are built to automate transactions, rather than people trying to make a ‘quick buck’ from currency exchange. WU’s primary customers are businesses wishing to limit the volatility of the floating Australian dollar by linking its platform with hedging currencies.

CBA’s Ant Financial makes it easier for Chinese to spend in Australia

CBA has recently signed a deal with Alipay, an extension of the newly named Ant Financial Service Group, currently sitting at first place on the Fintech 2016 Innovators list. Initially targeting Chinese students who stay in Australia but have limited resources to buy goods in local stores, CBA would like to enable Alipay on its mobile POS platforms.

Just last month more than 80,000 retailers in 70 countries signed up with the Alipay mobile payment system, along with 10 international airports including Munich, Tokyo, Auckland and San Francisco International Airport.

The head of Alipay International, Douglas Feagin, says, “Last year, China overtook the US as the world’s largest mobile payments market, with a transaction volume of $US235 billion ($309bn).”  

This is exactly why CBA would like to uncomplicate conversion fees.

For those using Xero software, or even DEAR Inventory, such platforms have integrated currency converters that use Forex to provide updates every six hours. For uses of POS and payment gateways, Stripe, Square, PinPayments, eWAY and PayPal all accept multi-currency payments and make all the calculations for you.

These advances in foreign currency conversion can pose great opportunities for your business. Next time you meet with your financial advisor, ask for their advice in this area and find out if there are any immediate adaptations available to you.