Multi-currency accounts have become a staple service in the tech diet of expatriates, digital nomads, and small businesses. Multi-currency services are a way to hold different currencies in virtual current accounts around the world; something your local bank almost certainly will not do.
This is a response to the growing need of dealing with international customers – or constant border hopping – in which the everyday person can easily hold Euros, USD, Korean Won, and Israeli New Shekel all in one app.
And it’s not just spending money where this comes in handy, but acting as a receiving bank account. For example, a freelancer that works with international clients will be receiving money from clients abroad. Many b2b accounts are readily available, but many double as a casual p2p service too. A multi-currency wallet means that they can more easily accept foreign payments and exchange the currency themselves at a highly competitive rate. This avoids wire fees, lengthy processes, and awkward banking protocol.
Who can open a multi-currency account and where?
There are no barriers to entry when it comes to opening a multi-currency account – everyone from holidaymakers to international corporations can use them. Typically, very large companies may prefer bespoke services elsewhere like with banks or currency brokers, but still, the service is open to almost everyone.
Everyone, that is, who lives in a country with an open currency and cooperative laws. Some countries, such as Cuba and Iran, are fairly closed in money coming in, so you may not find options for their currencies on the services nor may they accept customer sign-ups from those regions.
Banks, however, tend to have to endure more regulations, meaning that many European banks will not accept American customers due to a discrepancy in laws. Whilst this sometimes leaks over to non-banking fintechs (it still poses issues), it’s generally much easier to sign up to overseas multi-currency account services due to not being a licensed bank. And, in any case, it’s relatively easy for a US provider to offer a virtual Euro account, just as European providers frequently offer US accounts.
Best multi-currency accounts and which currencies are supported
The best multi-currency account depends on your use case, the currencies you’re looking to deal with, and where you’re based.
Wise is quickly becoming one of the most notable multi-currency wallets in the world. Accepting US, Canadian, Australasian, Brazilian, and most of Europe as a customer, it is truly a worldwide phenomenon right now.
Setting up an account is fairly easy, and over 50 currencies are immediately available. Wise are hyper transparent about fees, as you can see clearly, for each transaction, what you’re losing out on.
But, Wise’s biggest asset is how fast and easy their app is. The UI shows all of your accounts in one spot, taking just seconds to open and close new accounts, and it’s very easy to set up receiving payments from Amazon, PayPal, eBay, ETSY, among other e-commerce spaces.
WorldFirst is another great option, but the focus for WorldFirst is on businesses, online sellers, and generally people looking to transfer larger amounts. Margins are under 1%, like Wise, and their core focus is being an industry leader in the eCommerce space (they are owned by AliPay).
Here, WorldFirst goes above and beyond Wise when it comes to sophisticated FX services and dedicated dealers. This makes them act as a currency broker just as much as they are a multicurrency wallet.
MoneyCorp is historically closer to WorldFirst than they are Wise, in being more for merchants, sellers, but even having a banking license in Gibraltar. And, whilst they never used to be a multi-currency wallet, they do provide this service on its online platform.
Its online platform is far away from the shiny, slick experience of Wise, but it covers more bases. MoneyCorp is arguably even more heavy duty than WorldFirst, meaning that it’s a great choice for receiving large amounts of money into, but some accessibility and convenience is sacrificed here, making it less useful for freelancers and expats.
MoneyCorp handles 120 currencies and accepts clients from around the world. They are a vast company, with offices in many countries, making support very multilingual and experts in various markets.
Use cases for small businesses and sole traders
Let’s say you produce bespoke dog beds, and you’re selling them through Etsy, Amazon, and your own Shopify store. When branching out to international buyers, you will soon find that transaction fees on top of poor exchange rates lead to diminished margins when using conventional payment methods.
Multi-currency services offer much more options, and at lower costs. It would now be possible to sell your product in different currencies, and you simply accept payment into your overseas accounts. This way, the customers have an easy experience with fewer costs (poor exchange rates end).
From here, you can exchange the currency on your own terms at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. You can time your exchange if you like, as opposed to exchanges at the moment of each sale. One benefit here is to save up in that foreign currency so that upon exchange, you can bargain a better exchange rate due to a higher volume. Or, you can avoid any exchange at all, perhaps using this foreign money to pay foreign suppliers.
Receiving payments into a multi-currency wallet has never been easier. With many services to choose from, they are much quicker than traditional banks at onboarding you. Plus, opening the overseas virtual accounts takes seconds, in which your account details can be shared or used to receive payments. Receiving money from abroad is no longer a matter for MNCs, but freelancers, small businesses, and even retirees.