SMB International Banking Analysis

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SMB International Banking: Fintech

TransferWise offers business accounts for small- to medium businesses, priding itself in enabling transactions at real currency rates. Revolut's business solutions are about to launch in the US. The company will offer similar foreign payment conditions. Our complete findings can be found in the attached spreadsheet.

Selected Findings

  • TransferWise's service for small- to medium business owners is an account that allows transferring and receiving money at real currency rates, without additional fees.
  • Also, there are several locations to which money can be sent as local transfers.
  • While Revolut for Business hasn't launched in the US yet, it is possible to join the waiting list.
  • It will also offer transfers at real currency rates with no extra fees, as well as making payments to certain countries as local transfers.
  • Additionally, it will offer bulk payments in multiple currencies.
  • Its business services include foreign exchange-related consultancy and unique money transferring capabilities, with options to lock a specific currency rate or set an alert and wait until the desired rate is offered.
  • All of the companies offer or will offer their services through online platforms that can be accessed on desktop, mobile, or through open APIs.

Research Strategy

According to the Revolut's website, business services are not available in the US yet. However, the company provides a detailed overview of what they will offer, which is what we included in the spreadsheet.

The only issue is that they don't differentiate by the size of the business. We assumed that since their offerings are very similar to the UK, the differentiation also won't differ. In the UK, the same services are provided for small and large businesses. The only variation comes in pricing. A certain number of accounts, transactions, credit cards, and international transfers at real rates is free. Each extra operation or account has a fixed price.

Similarly, XE Money Transfer (formerly HiFX) doesn't have services for small businesses. We checked both their US and UK websites. We also made sure that external business media sources don't provide information on their offerings for small businesses. After concluding that they don't offer such specific services, we provided their overall business products. Since it's not stated otherwise, we assumed that they are also available for small businesses.

Also, since Revolut's US website for business services redirects to the global site when accessed from the Wonder platform, we included a screenshot. The original US website can be accessed from the link in the spreadsheet.

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SMB International Banking: Regional Banks

BMO Harris Brown operates a cash management service that serves their international customers by easing time to record, track and report payments facilitated by the BMO digital banking apps. The Royal Bank of Scotland offers foreign payments and international services to their international customers by providing global trade finance and international cash management services like the EQ online platform. PNC operates a PNC merchant services that enable small businesses to process credit card transactions on their websites or over mail order/telephone order through secure gateway known as Payeezy. Details have been inserted into the relevant sections of the attached spreadsheet.

PNC Financial Services Group

  • PNC Financial Services Group operates PNC Merchant Service that enable small businesses to process credit card transactions on their websites or over mail order/telephone order through secure gateway known as Payeezy.
  • Payeezy solutions also offers Level III support for Visa, MasterCard and American Express transactions
  • PNC competitive advantage includes eCommerce Payment Solutions which facilitates credit card authorizations, check payments and real-time transaction reports and gives customer a range of preferred payment methods including PayPal, electronic checks or other accepted electronic payments types.


  • The Royal Bank of Scotland offers foreign payments and international services to their international customers by "providing global trade finance and international cash management services."
  • Global trade finance services include business financing through bonds or guarantees that assists exporters trade by mitigating the risk of failed payments, and letters of credit that support normalized open account trading in favor of suppliers and partners by covering ones contractual obligations.
  • International cash management services comprises a cash management service and online banking service Online eQ which enhances liquidity and return on investments.
  • Online EQ platform competitive advantage is its many capabilities, easy customization and variety of features including full payment functionality which includes importing payment files and external account reporting. One can also transact and manage foreign exchange and payment transactions, deposit requirements including 35 day notice deposits, real-time reporting for multi-currency accounts, data or information can be exported, customizable formats and administrator capabilities with the ability to create group accounts.

BMO Harris Brown

  • BMO Harris Brown operates a cash management service that serves their international customers by easing time to record, track and report payments of a business utilizing simplified processes.
  • One of these processes is Automated Clearing House (ACH) that increases the accuracy and up-time by taking all cash management online enabling the customer to pay bills and collect funds faster, and monitor cash flow in the real-time.
  • Another process is Wire Transfers which focus on prioritizing payments across towns or globally with enhanced security and notification that payments have been made.
  • BMO digital banking enables real time banking operations such as viewing statements, paying bills, transferring funds or simply managing account anywhere at convenience on a smartphone or computer. It includes apps and online platforms like Bill pay, Total Look, Mobile Cash2, Mobile Deposit3, Zelle, Apple Pay & Touch ID & passcode.
  • The company's competitive advantage boosts eased ways of doing banking online, anywhere, anytime, ease in customizing interface for better viewing and securely managing accounts online.
  • BMO achieves this by dividing their international categories into three: Digital Banking, Wire Transfers and Automated Clearing House.
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SMB International Banking: Global Banks

Details regarding HSBC, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase have been compiled in the attached spreadsheet in columns I-K. Out of the three competitors, JP Morgan Chase offers the most comprehensive set of foreign payments and international business operations products and solutions for small businesses due to the fact it covers both international wire transfers as well as financing operations abroad.


  • HSBC's international business operation products and solutions can all be accessed online through the Fusion platform or by contacting the dedicated Relationship Manager by phone, email, or in the branch.

Bank of America

  • Bank Of America's international transfers can be initiated online or at the local Bank of America branch. In order for the SMB to be able to make an international payment, they need to have a Bank of America account.

JPMorgan Chase

  • JPMorgan Chase's international wire transfers can be executed online through the mobile banking app just like any other regular domestic wire transfer.
  • Trade financing is executed through International Banking Representatives which usually operate with the SMB via phone or email but the SMB is required to establish the relationship by visiting the branch first.
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Best Practices In Communicating with SMBs

Three best practices for successfully communicating with small business owners include having strong, freely-available content, ensuring there are third-party reviews of the service, and utilizing email marketing. Additionally, the best messaging for small business owners focuses on how they can grow their business.

Strong Content Marketing

  • Small business owners are looking for educational content on free or low-cost platforms, like social media or search.
  • Companies that target small businesses, like Autopilot, Hubspot and Act-On, have therefore had success with content marketing.
  • The free, educational content that is provided by these companies for small business owners fosters a relationship between the small business owner and the company. With this relationship established, the small business owner is more likely to purchase the product from the company, once they have been educated about why that product can help their business grow.

Third Party Reviews

  • Small business owners also rely heavily on third party review sites like G2 Crowd and Capterra. This is because they want to see how other small business owners have utilized the product to grow their business, and what the potential downsides of the product are.
  • These sites also help small business owners, who have limited time, find and review multiple products at once.


  • Small business owners are 54% more receptive to email marketing than the general population.
  • This is especially true for small business owners in the industries of services, finance/insurance/real estate, public administration, wholesale trade, manufacturing, and retail trade.

Business Growth

  • The main goal of small business owners is to grow their business. Therefore, all marketing should be geared towards communicating that the product will help the small business grow.
  • In a survey of small business owners, 26% said that "growing revenue" was their main goal, which was the highest percentage for any one goal.

Research Strategy

Best practices to reach small business owners were chosen based on their inclusion in reputable publications. While we first attempted to find best practices for small business owners that do business internationally, we were unable to find such targeted best practices. However, since the majority of small businesses do have international business, we assumed that the best practices for communicating with small business owners in general and small business owners that are doing global business were the same.
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SMB Priorities & Challenges

SMBs have several priorities and challenges. Cybersecurity presents as an ongoing priority and challenge due to the number of attacks that are focused on SMBs. In a similar vein keeping up with technology so that they can compete in the marketplace is another priority. One of the critical challenges consistently mentioned by SMBs is the recruitment and retention of quality staff


  • The 2019 SMB IT Report found 80% of SMB ranked cybersecurity as a top business priority. Also, featuring in the survey was the lack of available time to research new threats (36%), and the failure of employees to adhere to IT security policy (32%).
  • Of the SMBs surveyed, 56% said that recent security breaches had impacted their road map for the future. One of the difficulties for SMBs is that they often do not have in house IT professionals. The other issue is that they do not invest heavily in IT security with 29% of SMBs spending less than $1,000 annually.
  • Cybersecurity is the top business priority because of the potential impact on a SMB if an attack is successful. Cybersecurity breaches in the last year saw 40% of SMBs experience eight or more hours of downtime. A cybersecurity breach has the potential to not only suspend operations but the impact on a SMBs ability to pursue and retain customers.
  • When considering cybersecurity, most SMBs felt firewall/network security, antivirus/anti malware, and access management were essential features in cybersecurity products/software. Currently, small businesses spend approximately 6.9% of revenue on cybersecurity. Medium businesses spend approximately 4.1%.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission has stated that 60% of cybercrime targets SMBs. Cybercrime rates continue to escalate.
  • The Ponemon Institute report said that 67% of SMBs were cyber-attacked in the last year, with 58% having a data breach. 43% of all attacks are targeted at small businesses, and SMBs do not discover 56 % of breaches for several months. Ransomware attacks are directed at SMBs 71% of the time.
  • A study completed in July 2019 found that almost half of SMBs have not planned a response to a cybersecurity incident and 43% have not even developed a recovery plan.

Keeping Pace With Technology

  • There are a range of new technologies available to businesses and consumers alike, ranging from artificial intelligence to automation to the Internet of Things (IoT). The priority for SMBs is evaluating these opportunities, understanding the potential role that the technology could play in the business, and deciding what products present the best opportunities.
  • The rate at which technology is currently evolving is daunting for most SMB owners. Technology is key to efficient and effective business operations. It can improve customer relations, streamline operations, and create a competitive edge.
  • There is a fear among SMBs that they will be left behind if they don't keep up with technology. No firm wants to be the modern-day Kodak, the much-cited example of a company that didn't keep up with digital technology and suffered the consequences. The fear for SMBs is if they stall, they will miss vital opportunities for efficiencies and growth falling behind their competitors.
  • To a large degree, the type of technology that is appropriate for a SMB depends on the industry they are in and the tasks that employees are required to complete. Technology has the potential to increase collaboration and the exchange of information. It allows companies to work freely and develop new markets faster. Technology is considered an essential element of success.
  • Over 80% of SMBs believe that technology can help their business grow and that it can improve profitability. For SMBs the problems include the complexity of some technology, limited budgets, and the need for specialist staff to firstly evaluate and secondly implement.
  • Many experts believe this technology is still in its infancy and currently primarily benefits digital industries. In the next 15 years, a new wave of technology will impact the primary industries, and the resulting economic growth will be $247 trillion, wages will increase by $8.6 trillion, and federal revenue $3.9 trillion. No SMB wants or can afford to be left behind.
  • For SMBs operating on a global scale, this is an even higher priority, with networks keeping businesses in touch with each other and their customers have the potential to create a competitive edge for one business over the other.
  • One of the recommended ways of keeping up with technology is to assign the task to one individual within the organizations and have weekly meetings to bring the decision makers up to date.

Hiring the Right Staff

  • The 2019 Salesforce Report found that 60% of owners were looking to grow their business, while 36% were looking to maintain their business. Both groups agreed that hiring and maintaining is a challenge that needs to be overcome to achieve this.
  • This is up from a study the previous year when 50% of the participants listed hiring the right staff as their top challenge.
  • Another survey by LinkedIn found that 40% of SMBs plan on hiring new staff this year. The majority were expecting hiring challenges, with 84% of those surveyed agreeing that finding enough candidates for the positions is their number one challenge.
  • 73% of SMBs are challenged because they are competing with large companies for the same talent. As a result of these challenges 75% of SMBs are unsure whether a hired candidate will succeed in the role.
  • The ability to hire the right staff can be difficult for SMB, who have limited brand recognition as they often do not appeal to the candidates they are looking to hire. It is especially difficult in businesses with less than 500 employees.
  • One of the other issues for small businesses is that they may not hire staff regularly, especially in key positions, so they do not have the same processes in place for interviewing, vetting, and reviewing candidates. This has the potential to lead to the hiring of "warm bodies." What this equates to is hiring someone because it is quick and easy even though they might not meet the requirements or be a complete fit. In a SMB attempting to compete globally, this can create difficulties in the long-term.
  • There are also ongoing issues retaining staff in SMB. High flying employees tend to gravitate to larger firms because of the opportunities they present. SMBs can be seen as a stepping stone into a permanent long-term position, allowing the employee to can experience and practical knowledge to make them more appealing to a larger firm. This can see SMBs invest time and money into training for key positions only for a larger business to reap the rewards.

Research Strategy

We extensively reviewed a range of industry publications, expert opinions, and surveys to determine the priorities and challenges for SMBs. Several challenges and priorities were evident throughout the sources. The three that we have selected were widely discussed in the sources as being common to all SMBs and were supported by data and hard evidence
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International Payments Disruptors

Two examples of disruptors in the international payments industry include Kabbage and TransferWise. Kabbage enables small businesses to access lines of credit through a simplified and timely process when compared to traditional banks. On the other hand, TransferWise is making international transfers cheaper by reducing the costs of currency exchange.


  • As it stands, getting a line of credit for a small business in the U.S. is still a struggle. Kabbage, an online-lending platform for small businesses based in Atlanta, enables businesses to receive loans easily when compared to traditional banks.
  • In less than 10 minutes, a business can apply and be approved for a line of credit not exceeding $250,000. Kabbage uses machine learning algorithms that enable it to access real-time business data that gives them insights on customers instead of depending on traditional bank statements.
  • In 2018, Kabbage funded over $2 billion to small businesses. As it stands, the company gives credit lines of up to $10 million daily with interest rates ranging from 1.5% to 10%.
  • In January 2019, the company partnered with Alibaba to start an initiative called Pay Later. The program allows small businesses in the U.S. on Alibaba to have access to credit of up to $150,000 to finance their orders. So far, the startup has raised $489 million in funding.


  • When it comes to international transfers, currency exchange kiosks and banks charge between 5% to 10% of the total amount one wants to spend.
  • TransferWise is an online money transfer service that is changing the high costs of international transfers.
  • TransferWise is disrupting the international payments industry by reducing the costs of exchanging currency. The company charges the current exchange rate at the time of the transfer, with fees that can be lower than 1% depending on the currency.
  • Today, over 4 million customers are using the platform and transacting approximately $4 billion monthly. The company has more than 1,400 employees globally.

From Part 02
  • "eCommerce and mail order/telephone order (MOTO) are 24/7 businesses. That makes it critical that orders aren't lost due to a system outage or error. PNC Merchant Services® offers reliable solutions that enable businesses to process credit card transactions on your website or over the phone via a reliable gateway.[1] Money earned from online or MOTO orders is processed by PNC Merchant Services and deposited into your business checking account."
  • "Payeezy℠ Gateway is our payment gateway solution that enables eCommerce and mail order/telephone order (MOTO) businesses to enjoy transaction processing on the Internet or via the telephone or mail order."
  • "All Payeezy solutions offer Level III support for Visa®, MasterCard® and American Express® transactions. Payeezy also supports Clover® Security Plus with tokenized transactions, designed to help your business protect sensitive customer cardholder data."
  • "One-stop access to a variety of PNC's online and mobile treasury management services"
  • "Expand your business’s treasury management activities with the powerful online and mobile capabilities of PINACLE® Express. PINACLE Express offers you secure access to your cash position information and to the treasury management tools you need to move your business forward. With a single sign-on, PINACLE Express offers time saving tools that can help you work more productively and make better business decisio"
  • "Access PINNACLE Express from your office or while you are on-the-go! There are a variety of ways to stay up to date with your financial information. Build a customized and affordable online and mobile banking solution"
  • "Efficiently Initiate, Approve and Pay for Foreign Exchange Transactions Online PINACLE® FX offers you a secure, online foreign exchange payment mechanism with access to real-time rates for making spot and forward currency payments via wire or draft. You can reduce the time, effort and cost of initiating and paying for foreign exchange transactions and you can transfer foreign currency to or from your multicurrency accounts held at PNC."
  • ""
  • "Online Services for Business Do more business banking in less time. Go online - when the time is right for you. is your business connection to anytime online banking and bill payment, self-service account management, payroll services, even tax payments. Apply for new banking products and services, reorder checks. Take control of your business cash flow - online."
  • "Enjoy the convenience and efficiency of managing your cash flow whenever and wherever you want. Review account balances and activity, make bill payments, create payroll, view online statements, view, print or download digital images of paid checks and deposits for up to the past 90 days, order stop payments, or transfer funds between eligible deposit or loan accounts."
  • "See and manage your business’s cash flow with an innovative suite of online tools that provide efficiency, control and insight. Analyze your spending by business category, month-over-month. Visualize the impact of your actual and projected transactions, manage your short-term forecast, scenario plan and compare your cash position."
  • "Bonds and Guarantees As an exporter, a bond or guarantee can help you trade with added confidence and mitigate the risk of failed payments. Issued on your behalf, these solutions reassure your international suppliers that you can meet your contractual commitments – and ensure they deliver as agreed."
  • "Standby Letters of Credit These can support your normal open account trading. They can be arranged in favour of overseas suppliers and other counterparties or in favour of your customers in order to cover your contractual obligations."
  • "Optimise the liquidity and return on your funds with the help of our comprehensive cash management service, supported by our multi-currency banking system and eQ."
  • "Online banking with eQA multi-currency online banking solution that’s designed to meet your international and domestic banking needs"
  • "Key capabilities Secure and easy to use, eQ gives you visibility and control of your accounts. Capable of managing balances on large numbers of accounts, with an expert support team, eQ is self-service banking that's designed with you in mind."
  • "Easy to use Simplified navigation and advanced search capabilities with the ability to customise screens to suit your needs makes eQ easy to use. Compatible with most popular browsers including Chrome, IE11 and Firefox on Windows and Safari on Mac devices."
  • "Emergency contacts Reporting fraud on your bank account Have you noticed any suspicious transactions on your bank account? Here's how to report it... "
  • "Report fraud on your OneCard Have you noticed suspicious transactions on your OneCard? Here's how to report it... "
  • " Report a lost or stolen card / cheque book If you've lost your card or cheque book, or it's been stolen, it's important to let us know as soon as you can..."
  • "These Terms apply to eQ, the Electronic Banking Service provided by The Royal Bank of Scotland International Limited, The Royal Bank of Scotland International Limited trading as NatWest International (NatWest International) and The Royal Bank of Scotland International Limited trading as Isle of Man Bank (Isle of Man Bank) (each the Bank). They form part of the eQ Agreement made between the Customer and the Bank."
  • "Royal Bank of Scotland Group is one financial services giant that claims to be taking a proactive approach, rather than the reactive response to IT and business change that tends to characterise big-name banks."
  • "So, what do those experiments in innovation actually mean for customers of RBS and its high-street brands? McNamara says NatWest is involved in a range of digital developments, including Mettle, its digital bank for small businesses."
  • "He also points to the firm's new personal finance app Mimo, which uses open-banking application programming interfaces, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to create a social feed that helps customers manager their money."
  • "Reduce the time it takes to record, track and report payments made by your company with our simplified processes. Our cash management services make your life easier, so you can focus on your business."
  • "With the NEW BMO Digital Banking, it's easier to do your banking online, anywhere, anytime. You can view your statements, pay bills, transfer funds or simply manage your account on your smartphone or computer. And if you ever need help, we're always just a call or email away. All you need to do is sign up for BMO Digital Banking to get started."