Cross-border payments in 2024
by Kyle Rosen, Head of Core Product at Thunes
In recent years, the payment industry has undergone profound change. New technology, regulations and consumer behaviours are radically reshaping the way we pay and receive money. Here are five key trends to watch as the sector rapidly evolves.
1. The surging growth of real-time payments
Real-time payments (RTPs) continue to revolutionise how businesses and consumers transact and are set to become one of the fastest-growing segments this decade, with an annual growth rate of 35.5%. Eighty countries have active RTP schemes, and emerging markets, notably India, stand out as enthusiastic adopters, leading global transaction volumes. Meanwhile, we can expect adoption of RTP in the United States to grow significantly following the recent launch of FedNow.
As RTP systems expand globally, Thunes is dedicated to continuously unlocking interoperability, making instant cross-border payments hassle-free. We enable a direct connection through our Money Transfer API to RTPs worldwide, so businesses don’t need to be concerned with the technical burdens of integration, network frameworks, or local compliance.
2. The digital frontier: APMs and micropayout solutions
The global payment landscape has shifted relentlessly towards digitisation, with cash usage declining worldwide by nearly four percentage points in 2022.
In emerging markets where many consumers and small businesses may not have bank accounts, alternative payment methods (APMs) have become increasingly crucial. Methods like mobile wallets, super apps and prepaid cards are used to make payments. For businesses, digital payments offer substantial advantages over handling cash, notably in reduced administrative costs, improved security and convenience.
At the same time, the expanding gig and creator economy, projected to reach half a trillion dollars by 2027, emphasises the growing need for facilitating small-value payments, known as “micropayouts.” As creators worldwide generate high-impact content on various social media, gaming or content platforms, they expect a seamless cash-out experience. Platforms catering to creators must adeptly manage the complexities of micropayouts to meet these expectations. Thunes remains committed to addressing this challenge by developing streamlined micropayout solutions for creator platforms worldwide.
3. Redefining money movement with CBDCs
Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are poised to shape the future of payments. By the close of 2023, more than 130 central banks, representing 98% of global GDP, will have started exploring the use of CBDCs, with 11 Countries already having launched an electronic currency.
Thunes works to facilitate many types of payments and forms of money; fiat payments remain massively important, as well as new possibilities brought by CBDCs and stablecoins. There is exciting potential for CBDCs to enable instant and direct settlement without the need for float or treasury operations. Atomic swaps, enabling instant foreign exchange transactions, could bring about new efficiencies especially at a wholesale level. Thunes and China Construction Bank are exploring cross-border payment solutions utilising the digital yuan, e-CNY. This work will help small and medium-sized enterprises in China accept payments from buyers in international markets.
4. Better, more direct infrastructure lowers the cost of remittances
Remittance costs will keep dropping thanks to substantial improvements in global payment infrastructure. The traditional way banks handle international payments involves intermediaries, causing inefficiencies and high fees averaging over 6%, according to the World Bank. Thunes solves these challenges through strategic partnerships with mobile wallet operators, banks and financial institutions in over 130 countries, building a proprietary global network.
A collaboration with Visa Direct introduced cross-border send-to-wallet capabilities to 78 integrated digital wallet providers, enabling consumers and small businesses to transfer funds quickly and efficiently across Africa, Asia and Latin America. More recently, Thunes’ partnership with Saudi Arabia’s new digital bank, D360, enables customers to make fast international remittances worldwide, significantly cutting costs and boosting connections.
5. Working towards a universal mechanism to pay anyone, anywhere
Fintechs are striving to establish connections with local banks, payment schemes and digital wallets to confirm users’ identities and verify the validity of accounts. This could lead to the development of comprehensive global databases and a universal mechanism to facilitate transactions based on aliases or identifiers, regardless of the sender’s banking details or location. The ultimate goal is to make sending payments as easy as sending a WhatsApp message—an ambitious aim.
Various companies are beginning to address different aspects of improving the user identification and account validity process. Visa’s YellowPepper streamlines sender-recipient connections through alias databases, simplifying transactions using familiar data like phone numbers or email addresses. Other solutions in the marketplace work to verify identities in near real-time and leverage billions of data records. Meanwhile, other innovative services aim to validate payees’ accounts and retrieve banking information via aliases like mobile numbers. These solutions collectively reduce transaction friction.
Get in touch to discover how our global payments network can add value and utility to your customers.