In an increasingly interconnected world, the demand for low-value cross-border payments has reached unprecedented levels. Swift, a global provider of secure financial messaging services, conducted a comprehensive study to shed light on the key factors influencing the market. The study, which polled 7,000 consumers and small businesses, shed light on the significance of security, transparency, and the impact of hidden fees.
According to Swift, security and transparency are of utmost importance to both consumers and small businesses when selecting a payment provider. Security emerged as the primary driver for customers, followed by trust (for consumers) and transparency of fees (for SMEs).
Customers dislike hidden fees even more than payments not arriving at all. In fact, roughly 70% of respondents said they would not use a payment provider again if they encountered hidden fees—likely because hidden fees make people feel like they have been cheated. To thrive in this market, payment providers should prioritize transparent pricing structures and upfront disclosure of fees.
The research also highlighted the dominance of traditional banks in the cross-border payments landscape, with 87% of SMEs and 81% of consumers turning to banks as their primary choice for international payments. However, the survey also revealed that customers are open to exploring alternative providers if they can match the offerings of banks or other fintech players.
While speed is valued by customers, the study found that it should not come at the expense of security and transparency. Many consumers and SMEs expect international payments to be completed within one hour or less. Although only a minority currently expects instant payments, Swift suggests that these expectations are likely to rise as more domestic market infrastructures adopt instant payment systems. The survey also uncovered notable variations in customer preferences across different countries. Customers in Saudi Arabia and Australia express heightened concern about the impact of foreign exchange conversion, while German SMEs place particular importance on the integration of payment processes into existing tools, such as accounting software.