Technological Advances Streamline Cross-border Payments in the Post-Covid World

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Money is moving faster than ever before. The Covid crisis has caused a dramatic shift in how payments are made and has accelerated several trends in the payment ecosystem overall. Digital commerce surged during the pandemic as consumers and businesses turned to e-commerce to navigate lockdowns and social distancing. Meanwhile, businesses made unprecedented strides in applying technological solutions to overcome the challenges the pandemic presented. Technologies that would normally have taken years to adopt were implemented in months due to the surge in consumer and business demand for faster solutions for electronic payments in general, including cross-border transfers.

The first innovation to hit cross-border payments took place in the 14th century, when European bankers began to use handwritten notes to send instructions to their partners abroad to debit or credit an account for a transaction taking place far away from where the funds to pay for it were located. Today, the messages are electronic and instantaneous, but the underlying concept of a network of trusted partners and secure messaging continues to underpin the cross-border payment system. A strong, secure international network and more agile technology mean faster cross-border transfers.

A surge in technological adoption

A recent McKinsey report estimates that five years of digital technology adoption took place in less than a year during the pandemic, as businesses responded to the challenges it posed. Suddenly, not only did businesses need to provide a lot more goods and services online to survive, but the sheer volume of digital payment transactions meant that investment in payment infrastructure would pay off much more quickly both for businesses and the entities that provide them with financial service solutions. This helped pave the way for faster processing speeds as more processes became automated and more technological advances were implemented.

Not only have the digital payment services of traditional businesses improved, the number of customer-facing applications, and their adoption by consumers, also grew rapidly. There were 218 billion downloads of mobile applications in 2020 alone to serve the estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide.

How is digital transformation changing cross-border transfers?

Improved visibility and transparency

The connectivity that smartphone applications provide allows for enhanced visibility and transparency into the payment status for both the beneficiary and the sender. Ria’s mobile app allows the user to check rates before sending a payment, track payments, and receive real-time updates.

Mobile wallets

In their most basic form, mobile wallets are phone applications that allow you to store your credit or debit card information. The app then allows you to pay for goods and services even when you don’t have your card with you. Payments are made with your phone (for example, at checkout when using a food delivery app), or by scanning your phone at a physical point of sale terminal (POS). Learn more about mobile wallets here.

Virtual Accounts

Through a centralized account structure, virtual accounts allow customers to manage cash flow across currencies with greater flexibility, eliminating the need to maintain multiple local accounts in the same market. Money transfer providers can get improved payment sequencing and manage extensive reporting under one roof with consolidated account structures.

With this framework, money transfer providers can easily move from one currency account to another or use a centralized account to fund local payments. This allows money transfer providers to maximize liquidity, decrease risk, and operate in the currencies that are most appropriate for their operations.

Digital transformation is helping provide more goods and services – including financial services – to more people in more countries than ever before. COVID accelerated that transformation with many migrant workers relying heavily on providers like Ria to send and receive money to their loved ones. In order to better provide this essential service to our customers, we expanded our digital services throughout the pandemic to more than 20 countries, growing our international network to more than 33,000 agents and partners worldwide, providing services at more than 500,000 locations in over 160 countries.

Get the Ria Money Transfer App to send money overseas safely and almost instantly. With just a few taps, you can send money to be collected in cash at any of our worldwide locations or deposit money directly to the recipient’s bank account. Download the Ria Money Transfer app today for iOS or Android to get started.

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