Europe has many countries but not all are members of the Eurozone which is currently a collection of eighteen countries sharing a currency and economic policy. Britain and Denmark are members of Europe but have opted not to join the Eurozone, while other countries that have been accepted into the European Union, such as Bulgaria and Romania, do not yet meet the criteria for joining the Euro. A country such as Switzerland is geographically European but retains an independent currency and economic policy. The economic freedoms enjoyed by European countries that have not adopted the Euro increases demand for money exchange services which involve making payments in Euros from a different base currency.
The European banking industry is dominated by banks based in the largest European financial centres, Britain, France and Germany. The largest European bank is Deutsche Bank which is only marginally larger than HSBC. The French banks BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole have a dominance in the French domestic market and the largest Dutch bank is ING. A bank rapidly increasing its European operations is the Spanish bank Santander.
The expanding Eurozone has increased the demand for money transfer services to facilitate transactions that involve converting currencies into Euros. Freedom of movement within Europe for individuals to work means that many people work in Britain, which has retained the pound (GBP), and need to send money home to their families. Other people may be purchasing properties in emerging areas of Europe where they can take advantage of lower property prices to speculate on the future value of homes. Europe is a large centre for trade and many countries such as Britain and America have strong dealings with businesses that trade in Euros.
When looking to make international payments it can be advantageous to use the services of a foreign exchange provider. Their services are often cheaper than similar services offered by traditional banks and the same end result, a payment made in a foreign currency, can be achieved for less cost. The cost of sending money is driven by two factors, the competitiveness of the exchange rate and the transaction fees associated with the payment. Banks offer a wide range of services and, because they do not specialise in money transfers, it is often the case that their price menu for foreign exchange services is uncompetitive. Specialist foreign exchange providers can offer lower transaction fees and often have a tighter spread meaning that the difference between their buying and selling rates is less marked. This results in a more competitive exchange rate which ultimately lowers the cost of any international payment.
The typical time taken for a money transfer to be made in Euros is two working days. Whilst the use of a specialist foreign exchange company may not reduce the time taken for a transaction to clear, the chance to reduce transaction costs means that they can provide a great benefit to many clients.