Surging global connectivity, rising wages and wealth, and booming trade and travel. Put together, all three have helped make the world today a much smaller place. They’ve also helped money travel further and more frequently than ever before. This has had a powerful, if uneven effect.
Take the 40 year old SWIFT network. Largely built on legacy systems (like much of the global payment infrastructure), it reported its highest ever traffic last month. Its number of daily payment messages now averages more than 12 million. As the junction point for more than 11,000 major banks and institutions across the world, the network remains an important and growing part of the international payments ecosystem.
At the same time, it’s clear that this process does not meet the needs of many individuals who bank today. Imagine you live in Hong Kong, but want to send money to your family in Canada. A traditional wire transfer would likely entail sender and receiver charges, unfavorable exchange rates, and a 24 hour or longer time frame. That cocktail is hard to swallow, especially when knowledge of the real exchange rate is just a tap away on your phone.
The opportunity to improve on this has not gone unnoticed—the past decade has seen various solutions emerge in a multitude of markets. From early entrants angling to expand their global footprints to regional upstarts commanding eye-popping valuations, payment apps and sites are thriving, despite sometimes featuring relatively high fees.
Other more radical ideas like the bitcoin have blossomed. The decentralized currency’s low transaction friction and flexibility has earned it acceptance from a bevy of startups and merchants online, while weathering early teething issues with fraud and heist. And its underlying technology has proven intriguing to the financial sector—even the ECB now says it’s kicking the tires.
However, for millions of globally mobile individuals, waiting for Bitcoin to grow up and save the day isn’t an ideal strategy, but accepting legacy banking’s shortcomings isn’t either. Thankfully, new options are starting to emerge that deliver the best of both worlds: the dependability and reach of traditional banking, with the app-based simplicity and frictionless transactions that savvy consumers expect. Newly launched Zenbanx from Arkadi Kuhlmann (who once ran ING Direct), wants to use mobile technology to help people manage their finances while traveling and working in multiple countries.
Zenbanx is offering users the ability to hold and exchange up to nine different currencies in a single account with a Global VISA Debit Card for when travelling abroad, all with minimal transaction fees.
These real world implementations can’t come soon enough. By 2020, PWC predicts millennials will form more than half the global workforce. And just a year later, the total number of global smartphone subscribers is expected to rise to 6.4 billion in total. Both realities mean that the traditional banking model faces drastic and imperative changes in the next few years.
The finance establishment is resisting modernization, fearing it may hurt its profitability. For modern, multinational end-users, better banking business models will only become the norm if they let their money do the talking by embracing these emerging non-legacy banking solutions.
This article was produced on behalf of Zenbanx by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.