Skrill goes global with mobile
Global payments company Skrill – previously known as Moneybookers – has launched a mobile app that it says can send money to anyone, anywhere in the world at any time. The app has several potential uses, including cross-border remittance payments to various countries in eastern Europe and around the world.
“People engage more when the solution is in your pocket,” said Mark Carter, vice president for mobile at Skrill. “We’ve only just launched on mobile but already we can see people are doing more transactions. But the real advantage is that Skrill is international. By reducing the cost of cross-border payments, we can help improve people’s lives in some of the poorest countries in the world. Every extra dollar that gets through makes a big difference.”
The app works on Android and Apple iOS phones, and basically consists of a digital account that can be funded using a bank account, debit or credit card and used both online and via mobile. The idea effectively transforms the plastic debit card into a digital identity, which can then be used on mobile or online without the customer having to enter their details every time. Customers access their Skrill account with a five-digit PIN number.
Examples would be paying for Skype Credits, which are used to make calls to landlines or mobiles on Skype. It can also be used to pay for online gaming, as well as general e-commerce. The customer will typically see a ‘pay by Skrill’ option at online stores that accept payment by Skrill.
For remittances, recipients can use a pre-paid MasterCard to access their balance on Skrill in the same way as they would use a debit card; the firm does not use agents. In a similar vein to other cross-border payments firms such as Azimo, launched in December last year, Skrill markets itself as a cheaper, safer and easier way to send money to family members in the developing world and supports the World Bank’s ‘5×5’ initiative to reduce global average costs of transferring remittances from the present 10% to 5% in 5 years. Carter added that the extra remittance money was often being used to feed families and fund children’s education.
“Part of the problem is that some of the big players have business models based on making money from the FX spreads that typically range from 10-12%,” said Carter. “The customer typically doesn’t know about that, so if $100 are sent and only $90 received, that’s just the way it goes. We hold various currencies ourselves, so we can save the customer the cost of that FX charge – meaning more of their money gets through.”
Skrill has 150,000 merchants signed up and 36 million global users in 200 countries according to Carter, and is designed to protect customer details from being stored by merchants.
The Skrill mobile app is currently not available in the US, where it is due to be rolled out in Q1 next year. Apart from remittances, it also offers a choice of 40 currencies, gives users merchant promotions and is available in 12 different languages.