Banco Santander has launched a cross-border payments app PagoFX in the UK, taking on the might of rival fintech unicorn TransferWise.
Launched as a standalone company, PagoFX allows UK residents with a debit card issued by any UK bank or financial institution to send money abroad using just their smartphone.
International payments can currently be made in selected currencies from the UK to the US, the eurozone, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Czech Republic, with plans to introduce further currencies and payment options in the short term, providing a direct threat to fintech unicorn TransferWise.
In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, PagoFX will allow customers to use the service to transfer money abroad without any fees at all for the next two months, up to a limit of £3000. Thereafter it will charge a fee of between 0.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent of the value of each transaction.
The product, which is open for everyone no matter who the user banks with, is expected to be launched in other European countries this year and be present in 20 markets in three to four years.
PagoFX is the open-market version of Santander’s existing international money transfer service One Pay FX - developed in concert with Ripple - which offers quick international transfers to its bank customers in key countries in Europe and the Americas. The bank says One Pay FX provided the inspiration for PagoFX, but does not use Ripple's technology for the open market service.
Operating as an autonomous fintech start-up with more than 50 people in Madrid, London and Brussels, PagoFX has attracted talent from several big tech companies, such as Amazon, PayPal and Intuit.
In April this year, the bank hired former Apple executive Trish Burgess as global head of peer-to-peer payments, as it prepared for a concerted roll out of the system.