Euronet Worldwide’s Dandelion service aims to do for banks and businesses what its Ria money transfer service has done for consumers.
The company is in conversations with big banks to provide them with the white-label cross-border payments services, said Cecilia Tamez, who is chief strategy officer for the Dandelion business. While she declined to name the banks in a recent interview, she said Euronet will announce one of the top 10 banks in the world as a customer this month.
“We’re about to launch with a top 10 bank,” she said in a January interview, noting that it would be a topic of discussion when Euronet reports its fourth-quarter earnings results on Feb. 8.
The Dandelion brand, which Leawood, Kansas-based Euronet launched in November 2021, enables banks and fintechs to deliver payments for businesses and consumers in 190 countries, via bank channels, mobile wallets and cash transfer venues, often offering payments within minutes. Through its network, Dandelion connects to thousands of banks and offers a half million cash pick-up locations, Tamez said.
“One of the challenges is that we do work with financial institutions that don't necessarily want to make headlines about the fact that we are supporting them, just because they tend to be rather private about how they work their backend systems,” she said.
Dandelion already provides support for other cross-border payments services including the remittance fintech Remitly and PayPal’s Xoom service, she said.
Upgrading cross-border payments
While Swift provides an international messaging system for sending payments around the world, the long-time correspondent banking network that actually transmits payments has long been criticized as slow, expensive and opaque. As a result, businesses and international financial organizations have sought to upgrade the system.
In its quest for improvements, the Bank of International Settlements and other international organizations delivered a report last month on how a multilateral cross-border payments system might be constructed and linked, outlining benefits and risks of various approaches.
The new Euronet brand is pitching a private network to customers, offering access to 190 countries through one technology integration. “We think it's up to companies like us to really enable the technology integrations between all of the different countries,” Tamez said. “One of the key things we offer is instant scale,” she said, noting that companies can also use Dandelion to augment their own systems.
The brand operates under Euronet’s existing money transfer business license, a spokesperson for the company said by email.
The company uses bank channels in 162 countries; has cash connections in 153; and can reach 39 with digital wallets, the spokesperson said. It has “real-time” payments capabilities for all of the cash and digital wallet connections, plus about 64% of the bank channels, the spokesperson added.
Real-time generally means in less than 10 minutes because some banks take more like seven to eight minutes to process payments, but a majority are delivered in under five minutes, according to the company.
Pricing depends on the corridor and the volatility of the currencies involved. For instance, in some regions where cash delivery requires significant security, the price will be higher, Tamez said.
“Our pricing is based on wholesale per transaction fee (plus the foreign exchange rate), which our customers then price and merchandise to their customer base,” the spokesperson said, without providing a dollar range.
Dandelion is taking on a host of competitors, including the Visa Direct cross-border offering from that credit card giant as well as money transfer incumbents MoneyGram and Western Union.
Still, Tamez argues that none of the rivals are able to offer the cross-border payments services across cash, bank and mobile channels at the scale that Dandelion offers.
Dallas-based MoneyGram, which is in the process of being acquired by a private equity firm, makes its services available in 200 countries. While it’s known for its cash services, MoneyGram dug into developing its mobile apps and digital services during the COVID-19 pandemic, improving its cost structure along the way, said MoneyGram Chief Operating Officer Anna Greenwald.
That’s part of why Greenwald refers to MoneyGram as “the world’s oldest startup,” but notes the benefit of its 80-year history, too.
“We've had 80 years to spend building our network, building our licensing structure, building those regulatory and banking relationships,” Greenwald explained in an interview last month. “That experience and history has made it so that we can be very efficient in serving some of these newer innovation methods. And I think that those are high walls for a newcomer in the industry to surmount. It's an expensive business if you're just starting out.”
Euronet grew through acquisitions
Euronet, which was founded in 1994, has expanded over the years from a cash ATM business to money transfer services through acquisitions, buying the British electronic payments processor e-pay in 2003 and purchasing Los Angeles-based Ria in 2007. More recently, it acquired the digital foreign exchange data shop XE in 2015.
XE caters to businesses and higher-end consumers and Ria is providing more traditional remittance services to less affluent customers. While Ria mainly focuses on cash transitions, customers are increasingly gravitating to its digital wallet, too, especially for updates on the movement of their money, said Sarah Bernhardi, who is Ria’s chief customer experience officer.
The demand for faster payments is rising and Ria is evolving to meet those expectations, Bernhardi said. Most transactions take place in minutes, but sometimes hours in certain corridors where there are more compliance and fraud checks, she explained. Five years ago, the average was two or three days, she said.
“We’ve made a very conscious decision to invest in the omnichannel experience,” Bernhardi said. “We’re investing quite heavily this year,” she said, declining to provide details.
From Dandelion to Ria, Euronet is counting on its omnichannel offering and digital evolution to best the competition, but the cross-border battle is still very much underway.