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Zenbanx推多币种账户解放“数字游民”

对于“高频跨国旅行者”来说,国际支付和转账过程带来的高昂手续费和繁杂的程序实在令人苦不堪言;现在,这批饱受磨难的“数字游民”终于迎来了救星——一个支持多种货币的移动账户。

今年11月下旬,Zenbanx在美国发行了这款产品。用户通过APP可以直接使用国际主流货币进行支付和结算;只要将国际账户和移动端绑定,所有费用均在APP端直接扣除而无需其他繁琐流程。当前,Zenbanx支持的币种包括美元、澳元、加元、欧元、英镑、港币、卢比、日元和新加坡元。Zenbax创始人 Arkadi Kuhlmann表示,这个国际货币账户就类似于一个“停币场”,客户可以将其不同币种停在这里;而Zenbanx所做的,就是努力降低服务的费用。

这款产品可以帮助那些常常奔波“在路上”的客户节省很多费用。只需花十分钟免费注册一个账户,此后所有纳入自动清算系统的境内银行转账通通免手续费,国际转账也只需支付4.95美元。传统主流银行提供的国际电汇服务费用极其高昂,平均一笔48美元,然而通过Zenbanx借记卡提款,不管你身在何处,都只需支付当地服务费率和1.75美元的加成。在首发站美国,Zenbanx与 Delaware bank WSFS Financial Corp合作率先推出该项服务,因此也被同时纳入全面监管系统并得到了FDIC的担保。

本质上这只是一种纯数字化的服务,通过砍掉中间环节,Zenbanx能够帮助客户以极低廉的成本打理现金资产,所有支付和提款功能都是依靠一张借记卡与移动端绑定实现。对于用户的借记卡和信用卡之间会因为汇差造成隐形成本这个问题,Kuhlmann表示账户使用的虽是零售汇率而非批发汇率,但价格肯定是透明的,而且Zenbanx使用的汇率往往比劲敌Travelex和Western Union的更便宜。

Kuhlmann在2012年创办了Zenbanx,从一开始公司的目标就是“让货币像人一样自由”,今年启动的这个项目也是为了帮助那些“跨货币”生活的世界公民:比如国际留学生、在不同国际项目上奔波的工程师和老一代的移民们。除此之外,那些常年出差的跨国公司高管,甚至在全球拥有两套以上房产的Penta读者也开始Zenbanx了。Zenbanx在加拿大首发之后用户数量增长了几千个,目前注册用户总量已经达到了2.2万人,而我们在美国上线才不过一周而已。”

而Zenbanx创始人Kuhlmann也是来头不小。他先前创立过ING Direct Bank,在加拿大和美国提供线上高收益储蓄账户服务。现在,他的Zenbanx已经被American Banker提名为全球最值得关注的20家金融科技公司之一。

For those of us who travel a lot and are continuously enraged by the exorbitant fees and bureaucratic hurdles that must be cleared to simply pay some bills and transfer a bit of money around the world, there’s finally an innovative new multi-currency product here to help out the harassed globetrotter.

Launched in the U.S. in late November by a start-up called Zenbanx, this low-cost account is fully mobile and allows you to pay bills and move money around in five major currencies, simply by using a smartphone app and putting charges directly on a global debit card tied to the mobile account. The account currencies offered are the USD, AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, INR, JPY, and SGD. Zenbanx founder and CEO Founder Arkadi Kuhlmann says he wants clients to “park” money in their foreign currency accounts, and he is in the process of adding competitive rates to his offerings.

For folks constantly on the road, this practical product’s benefits could mount up to substantial savings. It costs nothing to open a Zenbanx account, which takes under 10 minutes to do via the app. After that, an “in-network” automated clearing house (ACH) domestic bank transfer costs nothing, while an “out-of-network” international transfer will set you back just $4.95. Classic international wire transfers cost similar to what they do at main street banks, $48, but if you use your Zenbanx debit card to make an ATM cash withdrawal while abroad, the transaction fee is a modest $1.75 (plus whatever the local bank charges.) In the U.S., Zenbanx is offering its multi-currency accounts via its local partner, the Delaware bank WSFS Financial Corp, which is why they are fully regulated and FDIC insured.

But this is in essence a digital-only offering, and by avoiding bricks-and-mortar branches and the messy business of cash management, Zenbanx can offer cheap money-moving services largely because both payments and cash withdrawals are made by a simple debit card tied to a mobile account. We asked Kuhlmann if there were any fees hidden in the exchange rate spread credited or debited from clients’ accounts? He concedes the accounts use retail exchange rates, not wholesale rates, but are transparent about what that rate is, and he always intends for Zenbanx to offer retail exchange rates that beat those of bigger competitors like Travelex and Western Union.

According to the corporate literature, Kuhlmann started Zenbanx in 2012 on “the premise your money is not as free or global as you are,” and that this mobile account was “built for citizens of the world” who live, travel, and work in multiple currencies. Think international students, IT engineers going backwards and forwards across the globe on assignments, and first or second generation immigrants with a foot in two homelands. We also see this as an attractive product for constantly flying senior executives, or for Penta readers who have second homes scattered across the globe. Zenbanx now has 22,000 of these “digital nomads” as customers, after first getting started in Canada, and has managed to add a “few thousand clients,” Kuhlmann says, during the neobank’s first week in business in the U.S.

Kuhlmann is someone to keep an eye on. He previously built the innovative ING Direct bank by offering high-yield savings accounts exclusively online in the U.S. and Canada, and his Zenbanx start-up was recently named by American Banker as one of 20 financial technology firms to watch.


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