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International Payments Specialist Answers Coronavirus Questions

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International money specialist, Equals has shared the most common questions facing it’s dedicated business support desk and the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on financial decision makers.

Here, Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals answers the most common questions the team are being asked by businesses:

What can you do if you need to make international payments for work? Do you need to do anything differently given the current climate?

“Over the last few weeks and even in the last few days, there has been extreme volatility in exchange rates with movements that haven’t been seen for years. To say that the coronavirus has hit the pound hard is an understatement. Even compared to the start of March, the pound is down 10% against the US dollar, and down 8% against the euro.

“In times like these it’s vital to pay close attention to exchange rates, as they can and are moving on a daily basis. This will impact the value of your currency transfer so it’s more important than ever that businesses ensure they are executing payments at the right time. It could be the difference of hundreds or thousands of pounds, which is not a risk any business wants to be taking.”

“While finance departments and those holding the purse strings in companies of all sizes are being cautious, payments still need to be made. It’s vital during these times that businesses make informed decisions when it comes to international payments which is why many are seeking advice.”

How can you make a payment overseas if you are stuck at home?

“In line with government advice, finance departments and small business employees have found themselves working remotely from home, and away from other decision makers in their team.

“While this may impact sign-off processes and efficiencies, the good news is you can still make payments all over the world as we are seeing from our customers.”

“For a lot of businesses, the change in dynamic necessitated by government advice has highlighted the need for streamlined and efficient money management systems so that businesses can continue to run as ‘normal’ as much as they possibly can.”

What to do if it is essential that you travel for work – what should I do about currency to ensure I don’t get stuck without money?

“If it is essential for you to travel for work overseas and you are still able to do so amongst transport restrictions and flight cancellations, you can get a prepaid card and lock in a rate so you protect yourself from further, negative fluctuations in exchange rates. You also have the added benefit of being able to use the card when you’re back in the UK.”

“However, if you need to use cash, ensure the provider uses fresh notes so you are minimizing the risk of contamination and beware that the buy-back rates for cash at the moment have been heavily impacted by volatile exchange rates. It’s worth noting that a lot of cash services have been suspended in response to the coronavirus outbreak.”

What can you do if an employee is stuck overseas to offer financial support?

“If you have an employee stuck oversees, international payments are the best way to provide financial support and a good way of transferring money safely across to them.”

“If they have an expense card you can regularly top-up their card for spending on necessities and you may want to consider their top-up limit as these are unprecedented times and employee needs are changing as a result.”