Challenges of online forex trading for South Africans due to bank barriers


Unless you have a peculiar fondness for queues, chances are you prefer doing as many day-to-day tasks that fall under the “life admin” category as possible online.

Whether it’s grocery shopping, renewing your car license disc, or paying your rates bill, most of us prefer doing them from the comfort of our desks or homes. It’s faster, more convenient, and saves a lot of hassle.

The same is true for international money transfers and currency exchanges. Whether you’re a business or an individual looking to make a large cross-border payment involving foreign currency, the last thing you want to have to do is spend hours queuing in a bank and filling out piles of paperwork. It would be far easier to do it at home and in your own time. That’s not just conjecture either.

A survey we conducted earlier this year found that 60% of respondents prefer to do international payments and currency exchanges online. Unfortunately, far too many banks don’t make this anywhere as easy as it should be, falling particularly short in areas such as automation and customer service.

It starts with onboarding 

This inability to meet the needs of customers starts with the onboarding process. Despite the availability of advanced automation technologies, many banks still take an outdated approach to onboarding new currency exchange customers.

In the worst instances, that means going to a branch to fill out all the forms necessary for onboarding. But even when they allow customers to complete the onboarding process online, they frequently still have to fill in their details on badly designed forms. That itself can take hours, especially if multiple forms require the same information.

The frustrating part is that it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to automate much of the onboarding process, making it faster and simpler for the end customer. That, in turn, means that they’re more likely to feel good about whatever transactions they need to make in the future.

Poor service post-onboarding 

That poor customer experience doesn’t end once someone’s onboarded either. If you’re trying to complete an international payment online, you’ll probably have to navigate to that section of the bank’s website or app, which is usually hidden behind several layers. Alternatively, you have to pick up your phone and call their contact centre.

This inevitably leads to spending hours on the phone, being pushed from pillar to post. And even if you do eventually get through to someone who claims they can help you with the online process, they might not have the expertise to do so. That means more frustration for the customer, but there are other issues at play too.

Businesses, for example, need to be able to make prompt, seamless payments to honour contracts with suppliers. The last thing they need is delays to this  process because of poorly built apps and websites combined with a less-than-stellar approach to customer service.

The right partner changes everything 

There is, fortunately, another way. By choosing the right international payments partner, businesses and individuals can avoid many of the online pitfalls associated with doing forex transactions through banks and other traditional providers.

In particular, they should look for a provider that prioritises automation and customer service. When it comes to automation, it should be baked into every part of the process, starting with onboarding. Implemented properly, it means that those processes, including the payments themselves, can be done much quicker and with much less effort required of the customer.

No matter how easy and seamless a process is, however, customers will occasionally need help. And that’s where a focus on customer service is so critical. But it can’t simply be good customer service, it also has to be knowledgeable customer service. That means account managers who are as familiar with the intricacies of international money transfers as they are with the provider’s own systems.

Giving people the forex freedom want

Customers should, in other words, look for international payment providers that provide them with the kind of experiences they want. While it’s understandable that someone’s first instinct would be to look to their bank for that, it’s clear that they shouldn’t.

By instead using an independent payments provider that makes extensive use of automation and prioritises customer service, they can get a far more seamless online international money transfer experience.

Ultimately, making international payments online should be as easy and seamless as ordering groceries or signing up to a new streaming service, and customers should seek out the providers who believe this too.

Harry Scherzer | CEO | Future Forex | mail me |



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