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How we keep your funds safe

So first and foremost, Excel Currencies is not a bank. We are what’s known as Payment Services Provider (PSP). This basically means we have the required licence to transact consumer money and we have been doing so since 2004.


Under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), all banks protect up to £85,000 of customer money. In the unlikely event that a bank fails, the FSCS will step in and compensate victims up to the value of £85,000.


Specialist currency companies (like Excel Currencies) do not offer the same protection as a bank. Instead, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) insist that we safeguard customer funds. 


Safeguarding is a set of laws that are designed to ensure that in the unlikely event of a specialist currency company failing, customer money is returned in full.


Effectively, because of the difference in regulations, both Electronic Money Institutions (EMI) and Authorised Payment Institutions (API and which is us) offer better protection of customer money than banks (£85,000 versus 100%).


What is safeguarding?


By law, Excel Currencies must keep your money away from our profit accounts and segregated into its own account, similar to an escrow account. This is known as safeguarding.


It means if Excel Currencies goes into liquidation, your money is safe in its separate account (with tier 1 banks such as Barclays) and can't be touched by us or any creditors. 


To explain a little further; once customer funds arrive with a specialist currency company (like Excel Currencies), we must place these funds into a separate safeguarding account. These funds will remain untouched until a trade has been exchanged and an onward payment has been made. Whereas with a Bank, the money you deposit is being used by the bank to finance its lending operations to both individuals and businesses.


Feel free to read the FCA’s letter to overseas payment specialist firms on safeguarding here.


There is also a page on the FCA’s website for more information on safeguarding - https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/using-payment-service-providers


Our relationship with the Currency Cloud


We entered our partnership with the Currency Cloud back in 2011. Currency Cloud are the market leader in cross-border payment technology, and we leverage their platform and expertise for a faster, easier, more transparent and more cost-effective solution for both us and our customers. A key element of the partnership for us is utilizing Currency Clouds’ rigorous AML procedures, compliance teams and safeguarding accounts to help keep our customer funds safe.


We mention our partnership with the Currency Cloud in our email footers, on our website and in our trade confirmation emails. You will sign Currency Cloud’s T&C’s when registering with us (as it’s their platform that we use to create trades and make payments) and they will appear as the name when sending your funds into us (it is their accounts we use not ours).


You will have no direct relationship with Currency Cloud, they are simply providing technology that encompasses an account and transaction service. All contact, trading and payments are dealt with by Excel Currencies. Utilising the Currency Cloud is only accessible by regulated institutions, without us you wouldn’t be able to open an account with the Currency Cloud. 


Currency Cloud has over 500 Fintech companies, financial institutions and banks using its infrastructure worldwide. They were bought for £800million by Visa in 2021 (the 15th most valuable company in the world) and currently transact £5billion in cross-border payment volume each month.


Here is the Currency Cloud’s website – https://www.currencycloud.com/who-we-serve/fx-international-payments/


Here are the Currency Cloud’s financials – https://companycheck.co.uk/search?term=currency+cloud


Here is the press release on Visa’s acquisition of the Currency Cloud - https://usa.visa.com/about-visa/newsroom/press-releases.releaseId.18666.html


What happens if either Excel Currencies or Currency Cloud fail?


In the unlikely event of this happening, customers funds are protected through ‘safeguarding accounts’. By law, an Electronic Money Institution (EMI like Currency Cloud) must open and hold customer funds in these accounts. They are never integrated into the companies’ own profit accounts.


If Excel Currencies fails, your funds would simply be returned by the Currency Cloud. If the Currency Cloud fails, your funds would be returned by an insolvency practitioner in full. Funds are not allowed to move out of the safeguarding account without a customers’ say so. 


Excel Currencies is fully authorised and regulated by the FCA as an Authorised Payment Institution (API) and you can check that on their website here - https://register.fca.org.uk/s/firm?id=0010X00004UxFm9QAF


The Currency Cloud is an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) who are fully authorised and regulated by the FCA and you can check that on their website here - https://register.fca.org.uk/s/firm?id=001b000000m6y0WAAQ


Fraud & Scam Prevention


Criminals use increasingly sophisticated techniques to steal money and it becomes harder and harder for consumers to identify them. Email invoice scam and Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud are the two main criminal techniques we prevent most within our industry..


Email invoice scam – This is where criminals appear to send legitimate emails requesting payment. Whether that be from a recognised email address, person, amount etc. The account details will have been changed to the criminal’s bank account.


Lloyds Bank outline this well here - https://www.lloydsbank.com/help-guidance/protecting-yourself-from-fraud/invoice-scams.html


Authorised Push Payment (APP) – This type of fraud overtook ‘card fraud’ in 2021 within the UK and results to over £500million being lost each year. This occurs when a fraudster tricks someone into buying something that doesn’t exist or impersonates being bank staff and to transfer their money to the fraudster.


The Payment Systems Regulator explains more here - https://www.psr.org.uk/our-work/app-scams/


Confirmation of Payee (CoP) was launched by UK banks in 2019. This is in essence an account name checking service that sends warnings to customers when the name on the account does not match. It is there to help avoid payments being accidentally misdirected. You will be affected by this service every time you set up a new payee with your bank.


When sending a larger payment, your bank’s fraud department may either contact you or hold the payment up until you contact them. This is in place to protect you. It can cause delays and frustration, but the bank just wants to make sure you are not about to be a victim of fraud.


When sending money to Excel Currencies for the first time (or the first time sending a larger transaction to us), your bank will ask questions on what the payment is for, who we are etc. Some banks are more stringent than others with questioning (Santander and Nationwide) and we cover all the potential questions that may be asked in a pdf document that we will send you once you have registered with us.


The issue with CoP is that it is not in place for overseas transactions. There is no way of checking whether an overseas bank account belongs to the person/company you are expecting to pay. We have security measures in place that helps protect you when paying a new person/company abroad and this will be discussed with you every time a new payee situation arises.


You can read more about CoP here - https://www.wearepay.uk/what-we-do/overlay-services/confirmation-of-payee/


Verification & AML


When you first embark on your journey with us, you will be required to firstly register your details either over the phone or via our website. To fully open an account with us, you will need to send us the required ID/s (usually a passport or drivers license).


This is a standard regulatory requirement for all financial institutions. No credit checks are run, we just need to hold the correct address, contact information and ID for each customer to ensure we remain properly compliant with the FCA’s rules.


We would enquire as to what you intend to use our services for and then we will verify all the information received with the various agencies we must run a check with before being able to onboard you as a new customer. This whole process can take as little as 30-minutes.  


Preventing criminals laundering money is known as Anti-Money Laundering (AML). You would have seen or heard about money laundering on TV most likely and so you probably know that banks are used by criminals to launder illegally generated funds.


Every crime has a victim. Buying fake goods for example on your holiday abroad could mean you are funding organised crime (human trafficking, child labour etc). There are currently 40million people in the world living in slavery and being held against their will. Stopping money laundering helps break up organised crime networks.


Not only is it a moral and ethical duty for us to stop money laundering, it is also a very serious risk to our business if we aren’t doing a good job. Excel Currencies must abide to strict rules and regulations passed down by the FCA to remain in business.


Predominantly for larger transactions, we must ask and often see proof of source of funds and know the reason for the transaction. This kind of due diligence is the same a solicitor would ask when purchasing a property in the UK or abroad.


How we will communicate with you


Primarily, we will communicate with you over the phone using our office line 01322 221 121 (which can be found on our website and all forms of communication that we use). Sometimes, your account manager may call you on their direct line and this can be found in the footer of their email and on their business WhatsApp profile.


We have a sales team, trading team, compliance team, accounts team, payments team and onboarding team and all of them may contact you at some point. This will be done either by phone or email and will depend on what the communication is for.


We will email you from @excelcurrencies.com email addresses only. You can expect emails from us when; registering, trading, for payment queries, document enquiries and anything similar. If you are ever unsure on the email received by us, please contact your account manager for confirmation.


If we are making payments on your behalf, we only accept account details via email. This is to avoid taking down anything wrong over the phone. If we are making a trade on your behalf, we accept your acknowledge and instruction either over the phone or email.


In recent years, we have found that more and more of our customers prefer to communicate via WhatsApp. This makes sense as most of us use this form of messaging more often than anything else. WhatsApp will only be used by our sales and trading teams and only if you agree to this form of communication with us.


We are aware that WhatsApp scams are on the rise in the UK and implore our customers to remain vigilant. Here is a great article from Norton on the types of WhatsApp scams to look out for - https://uk.norton.com/blog/online-scams/whatsapp-scams


If you have any questions on anything relating to the above, please give us a call on 01322 221 121 or email us at info@excelcurrencies.com