Analysing banks’ cross-border payments strategies in 2024

Analysing banks’ cross-border payments strategies in 2024

Banks have seen a number of developments related to cross-border payments in H1 2024. In a new report, we take a closer look at some of the bigger cross-border announcements so far this year to highlight key trends for the sector.

When it comes to cross-border payments, banks have been facing increased competition, from both consumer money transfer companies and B2B players and perhaps particularly from new digital offerings.

Incoming challengers are often able to deliver services faster, at a lower cost or in a more convenient way. In response, many banks have sought to improve their payments offerings or launch new ventures in a bid to capture the demand for easier payments.

In this report, we’ve examined some of the biggest cross-border payments news stories from banks in the year so far to assess which areas they are focusing on, how they are enhancing services and which companies they are partnering with in order to bolster their products or add new capabilities.

Topics covered: 

Major cross-border partnerships for banks announced in 2024

Rather than trying to cover all banks, this report focuses on banks included in our list of the Top 100 cross-border payments companies for 2024 and includes stories that have a specific relevance to global payments for these banks. It also includes developments for subsidiaries if these are relevant (for example, Ebury for Santander and divisional banks of HSBC and BNP Paribas).

Banks partner to boost cross-border payments in 2024, Major cross-border related partnerships for FXC Top 100 banks, 2024

Banks are targeting cross-border payments innovation in a variety of different geographical regions worldwide. While part of this is due to banks on our Top 100 being based in several different countries, there are still some clear moves to secure more of a payments share in different markets. 

One example is HSBC Middle East, which formed a new partnership with Mastercard in May to help accelerate the development of travel payments in the region, while another is American Express looking to boost card acceptance for Amex users in the UK. 

Merchant acceptance and international card usage is also a common theme across partnerships, with JP Morgan bolstering its presence in Europe by enabling merchant clients to process card payments via French payments network Cartes Bancaires, while BNP Paribas and Worldline have extended a partnership for card issuing across a number of international payment brands. 

Europe and Asia see high number of cross-border developments

Europe and Asia see high cross-border activity from banks
Cross-border developments across leading banks by region/customer, H1 2024

Across the total number of developments and announcements for banks in FXC’s Top 100, we noted the number of regions that were mentioned as a particular focus. We included ‘unspecified’ developments if a specific region wasn’t mentioned, which was often in the case where banks were implementing an enhancement to their services. 

A significant number of developments were targeting European countries, with several of these including the UK as a focus region. Asia has also seen a high number of developments, with many of these being focused more on business payments. For example, in May Standard Chartered used Singapore-based Partior’s distributed ledger technology to enable a euro-denominated transaction between Hong Kong and Singapore, having also joined Visa B2B Connect in April. 

The Middle East has also seen plenty of activity, having seen a growing number of fintechs popping up to serve specific needs in the region. Aside from Mastercard, HSBC also partnered with Geidea in May to launch a solution in the UAE that helps businesses to gather a wider number of digital payments across several other countries. 

In cases of developments with an unspecified region, many of these were from banks that are based in Western countries, such as Natwest in the UK, which partnered with StoneX to expand B2B cross-border payments to a wider currency set; Société Générale, which deployed a new solution that will help it manage liquidity for companies across multiple banks and currencies; and the Bank of America, which added a new payments and transfer hub to its app to improve remittances.

It is notable that the number of stories concerned with business payments was higher than consumer payments across several regions, and ties in with B2B becoming a growing part of the discussion around cross-border payments. 

However, some developments appeared to have some relevance for both audiences – for example, Visa adding more wallets for global money transfers in January, or Iberpay and Santander becoming participants in the European Payment Council’s One-Leg Out (OCT Inst) scheme in May, which allows payment service providers in the Single Euro Payments Area to rapidly process international transfers from and to countries outside the area.

Banks are looking to partnerships to boost services

Banking moves in the cross-border space spanned several different categories, with the most prominent being product/service launches and partnerships. Less frequently featured were funding rounds, IPO-related stories and mergers and acquisitions with a specific cross-border focus. 

Partnerships between banks and other players – mostly providers in the payments space – still make up a large proportion of the developments in H1 2024 (over 60%), with many of these focusing on either enhancing existing services or expanding these into new markets.

Banks looking to partnerships to boost services
Types of cross-border developments for FXC Top 100 banks, H1 2024

Meanwhile, new product and services launches made up nearly a third of the developments, with the majority of these being focused on adding new capabilities to banks. One of the biggest examples of this is HSBC, which at the start of the year launched Zing: its standalone P2P money transfer product positioned to take on challenger money transfer apps like Revolut and Wise. 

Compared to these categories, there were fewer mergers and acquisitions specifically related to cross-border payments. Mergers and acquisitions generally were down in many sectors in 2023, but the wider cross-border space has seen some notable takeovers already this year – such as corporate payments focused Corpay’s acquisition of treasury management solutions provider GPS Capital Markets in June and private equity investor Advent International’s acquisition of Canadian payments player Nuvei in April. However, cross-border hasn’t been as big an acquisitions focus for banks in H1 2024. 

Banks seeing fewer developments around crypto/digital offerings

Leading banks aren't looking to crypto for cross-border
No. of bank cross-border payment stories related to digital currencies, H1 2024

There were significantly fewer announcements focusing on crypto and digital offerings, which could reflect a continued wariness around the topic amongst growing moves to regulate crypto industry worldwide. However, beyond FXC’s Top 100, digital currencies are still present and being talked about in the wider industry and cross-border space.

Work is ongoing to support the development of stablecoins and CBDCs worldwide, for which there have been notable advances amongst central banks. For example, June saw the launch of Project Meridian, a project being conducted by the Eurosystem and London Centres of the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub and the Bank of England to investigate how to make real-time gross settlement systems interoperable worldwide. In the same month, the Bank of Ghana completed a cross-border trade using digital credentials, while Saudi Arabia’s central bank joined Project mBridge – a BIS-led project testing the use of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for cross-border payments, which has also seen involvement from China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the UAE. According to the Atlantic Council, these countries are among 130 countries exploring the use of CBDCs worldwide.

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