With the general frustration folks appear to have with bank fees – not sure why as banking has to cost something, doesn't it? – I just got wind of the new Currency Exchange for P2P transactions. Here's how it works:
Or, if you prefer, in text form:
"CurrencyFair is the people's exchange."
For example, "Jim is an Aussie living in London. He still has a flat in Sydney and he rents it out. The rent he gets he has to exchange into pounds to help finance his flat in London. But while he is trying to change dollars into pounds, Shirley wants to turn her pounds into dollars. She's retired but wants to help out her son-in-law who has just started a business in Brisbane. We bring Jim and Shirley together …
"You can browse and choose the deal you want because it's a market. That means if anyone does try to charge above the odds for their Pounds or their Zloty or whatever, they'll never sell them. It's as simple as that."
Or, if you prefer, here's how it works in picture form:
To secure everything, Currency Fair works with Bank of America. As they say:
"We're no friend of the banks. Except one. We are a friend of Bank of America. All your money is held in segregated client accounts with Bank of America, the largest bank holding company in the United States by assets. That's bank speak for your cash is safeguarded by being held separately to ours."
Interesting choice of Bank of America, although BoA did have a 'vision' unit – they used to publish the Future Banking Blog – and that could be the reason why.
The only downside of Currency Fair appears to be that it has been created by a bunch of Irish, Welsh and Ozzie ex-banking backpackers – that must be the reason for the sheep in the picture above – but hey, you can't win 'em all.
Postscript: American Express exchange rates at Heathrow Airport …