B2B Payments

Faster, Better Cross Border Business Payments

Six Minutes and 49 Seconds. That’s how long it took, on average, for SMEs to move funds across bank accounts and borders. And the company responsible wasn’t one of the “name brands” either. Ten-year-old World First is out to deliver the kind of service, speed and benefits that – until now – were only available to the big guys moving millions at a time.

A 10-year-old British company whose business is to facilitate cross-border payments and remittances is focusing on transaction speed and customer service as it seeks to gain notoriety as a viable alternative to banks in the B2B market.

(jump to: 8:27) “The reality is our biggest competitors are the banks. In the UK, the banks still have 85 percent of all transactions going through them,” Alex Sullivan, managing director at World First, told PYMNTS.com in a podcast interview this week. “That is changing. More people are becoming aware of us as an industry and us as a business.”

Indeed, as the global marketplace is changing and becoming more mobile, how businesses transact is changing as well. As such, convenience is gaining increased importance as a competitive differentiator. And enabling payment for cross-border commerce is becoming a service that many companies expect can be accomplished not just at the office, but in taxis and airports.

SME play

While banks do well in meeting the needs of their largest customers, they typically have difficulty offering similar levels of service to smaller players, Sullivan says. World First’s B2B customers tend to be small and midsize businesses from industries that can vary from travel and food companies to electronics firms selling goods online. The company has 13,000 clients with which it works ranging in size from the low thousands in funds remitted to tens of millions per year.

(jump to: 3:10) “Typically the companies that we would work with would be of a size where they want to get the best deal and it matters to them that that they want to save money and get good advice,” Sullivan said. “But equally they’re not of the size of having their own treasury department and having several banks look after it for them. That’s where we will operate for companies.”

To help differentiate itself from competitors, including banks but also such firms as Travelex or Moneycorp, World First puts a lot of emphasis on customers relations. It’s offices don’t use voicemail, and it guarantees phone calls get answered by the third ring. Moreover, it enables transactions by phone and online, offering 24/7/365 online payments. The company can pay in 109 different currencies across 274 different countries.

Mobile app

Most recently, World First launched a mobile app, which is a version of its website. The company came up with the app based on the idea that users could complete transactions quickly. Last year, it timed from log in, booking the payment and the money leaving the company and arriving in the bank account in 6 minutes and 49 seconds, Sullivan said.

(jump to: 7:04) “Nothing exists like that for the international payment space, and we’re really existed to be able to launch this for our customers,” Sullivan said. “We always listen to the customers and tailor the services to them. We think that’s why we have such good levels of customers coming back.”

World First operates offices in the UK, the U.S., Hog Kong and Australia. To hear more about World First’s efforts to compete with banks and Sullivan’s views on marketplace trends, click here.


*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.


New PYMNTS Report: The CFO’s Guide To Digitizing B2B Payments – August 2020 

The CFO’s Guide To Digitizing B2B Payments, a PYMNTS and Comdata collaboration, examines how companies are updating their AP approaches to protect their cash flows, support their vendors and enable their financial departments to operate remotely.

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