BBVA-backed fintech launches global bank account

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A new fintech backed by the Spanish bank BBVA aims to do something that others before it have failed to do: simplify international payments.

The fintech, Denizen, claims it has created a “global banking platform” that allows customers to receive money in one country and pay it out in another immediately, avoiding international transfer fees and eliminating currency exchange fees.

Denizen’s initial funding round (which was not disclosed) was provided by BBVA's New Digital Business unit, which helps incubate startups in its Silicon Valley-based fintech lab to foster disruption in the banking sector, as well as learn from those innovations, according to the bank.

Expats, immigrants and frequent world travelers are often forced to maintain multiple accounts across countries, and then transfer money between them to pay bills, deposit payments and other financial activities, often resulting in significant fees and delays access to funds, Denizen noted.

"National borders act as barriers to the free movement of money, inhibiting individuals and limiting the potential for global commerce," Denizen co-founder and CEO Joaquin Ayuso de Paul said in a Monday press release. "Denizen is on a mission to simplify banking for global citizens. By delivering the world's first truly borderless account, we make it easy for anyone to access the financial system from anywhere, then carry it with them as they move for work or travel."

The firm says the cross-border money movement service is the first in a planned series of products. Denizen is currently available to expatriates living in Spain and the United States. The service is set to expand in 2018, adding as many as 10 European Union countries in the second half of the year as well as the United Kingdom.

Denizen is not the first fintech startup to try to make international money movement easier. Zenbanx — started in 2012 by the founder of ING Direct — was an app that let customers transfer money quickly between nine currencies, including the dollar, euro and Japanese yen. It was acquired by the online lender Social Finance in February 2017 and was shut down six months later.

"As someone who has lived and worked in a number countries, I know first-hand how difficult it is to manage money across borders,” Ian Ormerod, general manager of new digital businesses at BBVA, said in the press release. “Denizen solves a very significant problem for more than 50 million expats and 250 million migrants.”

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Cross border payments International banking Online banking Money transfers Faster payments BBVA Social Finance