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What are BIC/ SWIFT codes, how to find them, and how do they work?

03-01-2022 | treasuryXL | XE | LinkedIn |

Just booked a rooftop hotel in Manhattan? Or bought an authentic Chinese vase at an auction in Hong Kong? When making an international payment, you need payment details such as BIC (also known as SWIFT address), the country code and IBAN. Not sure where to find this key ingredient to an international money transfer? Our guide will show you all there is to know about SWIFT and BIC codes.

Your bank or other financial institution must know where to transfer money to send or receive money worldwide, but how do they know? Make way, for a BIC/ SWIFT code is about to enter the picture! If you’ve ever used Xe to send money or read our guide on sending money, you’ve probably noticed that you’ll need a BIC or SWIFT code. But what exactly is it, and where would you seek for it?

From what a SWIFT/ BIC code is and why you need one to how to find one quickly and use it for international money transfers, our guide will teach you everything you need to know about this code. It’s time to get ready, get set, and go!

What is a BIC or SWIFT Code?

BIC stands for Bank Identifier Code, and SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. Sometimes, people use the terms “BIC” and “SWIFT” interchangeably. A SWIFT code or SWIFT ID typically identifies banks and other financial institutions worldwide, for international transactions. More specifically, it says who and where these institutions are, so that your money goes to the correct place – you might even think of it as a global identity card for banks.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recognizes and approves SWIFT codes for financial and non-financial institutions. Right now, there are over 40,000 live SWIFT codes in the world.

What does a BIC/ SWIFT code look like?

SWIFT/ BIC codes contain 8-11 characters that identify your city, country, bank, and the branch of your bank. The code may look something like this: AAAABBCCXXX

All muddled up? Let’s get this BIC format straight:

  • AAAA: 4-letter bank code that’s usually a shortened version of your bank’s name.

  • BB: 2-letter country code that represents the country in which the bank’s located.

  • CC: 2-character location code, pointing to the place where the bank’s head office is situated. It’s made up of letters and numbers.

  • XXX: 3-digit branch code that specifies a particular branch of the bank, usually the bank’s headquarters. These last 3 digits are optional, though.

To help you understand better, we’ve listed out the BIC/ SWIFT codes for a few large banks from around the world:

  • Scotiabank (Canada): NOSCCATTXXX

  • Charles Schwab Bank (US): CSCHUS6SXXX

  • Bank of England: BKENGB2LXXX

  • State Bank of India: SBININBBXXX

Why do I need a BIC/ SWIFT code?

If you want to send money around the world, you’ll almost always need to use a SWIFT/ BIC code. That’s because money transfers technically don’t actually transfer money around the world. Banks securely transmit information to one another through the SWIFT system or their other channels, which lets them know where the money should come from (which account should be debited), and which account should be credited with the money. In short, without this code, your bank won’t know where exactly they should send your money to.

So, it’s important for a bank on one side of the world to find the right bank on the other side, when it comes to international wire transfers, even when you use an international money transfer app like Xe, you’ll have to enter the BIC/ SWIFT code of the recipient’s bank for wiring money to the recipient, because the money will travel from your bank account to your recipient’s bank account.

How do I find my SWIFT/ BIC code?

Don’t worry, you have a few options.

  • Check the bank statements

You can usually find your bank’s BIC/ SWIFT code in your bank account statements. If you’re using an online bank, log into your digital bank account to easily view your bank statement.

  • Check the bank’s official website

Visit the bank’s website and check their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section, international wire transfers, and other related links for their BIC/ SWIFT code. If there’s a search feature on the website, enter “SWIFT code” in the search box.

  • Contact your bank

In case you still can’t find the BIC/ SWIFT code, reach out to your bank via live chat, phone, social media, or email.

How do I verify a SWIFT code?

When sending or receiving money, always cross-check the BIC/ SWIFT code and other details with the recipient or your bank before you or the sender sends the money.

But why should you cross-check it?

As a matter of fact, if you enter a SWIFT code that doesn’t exist, the bank should reverse the payment you’ve made, and return your money. They’ll be charging a specific fee for that, though, and it might take some time before you get your money back.

As soon as it hits you that you’ve entered the wrong code to send money internationally (uh-oh), get in touch with your bank right away. They may be able to cancel the transaction, so keep your fingers crossed.

You can avoid such a scenario if you make sure that the BIC/ SWIFT code has:

  • No typing mistakes

You might think entering a SWIFT code is the work of a moment. But when you finally type it, character by character, it might seem as long as a marathon. Since it’s easy to make a mistake while typing in the code, try to copy and paste the code whenever possible.

  • The correct format

Always stick to the format of the BIC/ SWIFT code that the recipient has given you. For example, don’t type the country code before entering the bank code. And remember, there shouldn’t be any spaces between the characters in the code.

How do I transfer money using a SWIFT code via money transfer apps (like Xe)?

Once you sign up on online money transfer apps like Xe, you need to link your bank account directly to the app. After that, you can send money straight to the recipient’s bank account through a wire transfer, no matter where in the world he or she may be. You’ll usually have to follow these steps for wiring money between banks via Xe:

  • Log in.

  • Confirm which currencies you’d want to exchange. You can use Xe’s free Currency Converter tool for a quick check on the mid-market rate.

  • Enter the amount you wish to send.

  • Enter the recipient’s name and address.

  • Enter the recipient’s bank details, including the BIC/ SWIFT code and the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) of his or her bank.

  • Choose your payment method and confirm the money transfer.

Is IBAN the same as SWIFT?

No, IBAN and SWIFT are 2 different codes, but both of these do the same job – sending or receiving money. Banks use SWIFT codes to identify bank branches for making international payments. On the other hand, IBAN codes specify individual bank accounts for both domestic and international payments.

  • Do I need an IBAN number or a SWIFT code?

It depends on the country to which you’re sending money. For example, banks in the US, Australia, and New Zealand don’t use IBAN numbers, but they use SWIFT codes for different banking services.  But if you’re wiring money to a country within the Eurozone, you’ll surely need a SWIFT/ BIC code along with an IBAN number.

Is a SWIFT/ BIC code the same as a sort code?

Nope, sort codes aren’t the same as SWIFT codes. Sort codes are 6-digit codes that help British and Irish banks to identify bank branches for domestic payments (payments within a country).

  • Do all banks use BIC/ SWIFT codes?

No, all financial institutions, especially some small banks and credit unions, don’t have SWIFT codes. Instead, these institutions contact banks that do have BIC/ SWIFT codes, and ask them to serve as intermediaries for wiring money. You might also come across some financial institutions that use SWIFT for only a certain number of their branches, and not all of them.

Is a SWIFT code the same for all branches?

It depends on the recipient’s bank. Some banks may have one BIC/ SWIFT code for all their branches, while others have unique SWIFT codes for each of their branches. Plus, since all the branches of a bank may or may not use the SWIFT network, the code usually specifies the bank’s head office or primary office. So, are you ready to make an international money transfer using a BIC/ SWIFT code? Download the Xe app or sign up today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your guide to UTR codes (with a UTR number example, how to get a UTR, and what to do if you lose it)

23-09-2021| treasuryXL | XE |

Whether you want to find a UTR and use it, or you’re lost in a maze thinking of what you should do if you lose the number, we’ve got your back with a UTR number example and more!

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number is a code that identifies you or your business in the United Kingdom for tax purposes. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a UK government department, is responsible for collecting taxes in the country and uses your UTR number whenever it deals with your tax.

You may need a UTR for submitting a tax return to HMRC, depending on whether you meet their eligibility criteria.

Feeling foggy already? Whether you want to find a UTR and use it, or you’re lost in a maze thinking of what to do if you lose the number, we’ve got your back, so take it easy!

We’ve also thrown a UTR number example into the bargain to help you understand all of this better. Let’s get the (UTR) show going, shall we?

What’s a UTR number example?

All UTRs have 10 digits, which sometimes end with the letter ‘K’. A simple UTR number example is 12345 67890, with a gap between 2 pairs of 5 digits each.

Do I need a UTR number?

If you have forms of income or expenses that require you to file a Self Assessment tax return, you’ll need a UTR number. This applies in case you:

  • Are or were self-employed as a sole trader and you earned over £1,000 GBP (without claiming tax relief) in the last tax year (April 6 to April 5), or

  • Are a partner in a business partnership (even a nominated partner will do), or

  • Have untaxed income (like commissions, income from renting out a property, or foreign income), or

  • Want to claim an Income Tax relief, or

  • Are a subcontractor who’s either self-employed, a partner in a trust or partnership, or the owner of a limited company in the UK (in all these cases, you’ll have to register for the Construction Industry Scheme or CIS).

In the case your sole income is from your wages or pension, you won’t need to send a return.

However, keep in mind that if you submit your tax return to HMRC 3 months (or more than 3 months) later than the deadline, you may face a minimum penalty of £100 GBP, along with interest on late payments of your tax bill.

How do I find out my UTR number?

First things first, register for a tax Self Assessment, if you have to send an income tax return. You can either register online, or fill up an application form on the HMRC website, print it out, and post it to HMRC.

Once your registration process is complete, or you’ve formed a private limited company in the UK, HMRC will send you an SA250 “Welcome to self-assessment” letter.

You’ll find your UTR number on the top right of the letter, along with a 12-digit activation code (for non-personal tax accounts). This activation code is necessary for signing in to your online self-assessment account with HMRC for the first time.

In case you don’t receive the activation code, though, or you lose it within 28 days of enrolling for the online service, you can sign in to your online HMRC account and simply ask for a new code.

If you’d already registered for the self-assessment and sent a return online before, your UTR should be on your previous tax returns, payment reminders, return filing notices, and other official documents from HMRC like P45 and P60.

Look out for a 10-digit number under “Tax Reference”, just like the UTR number example we’ve included at the beginning of this article.

How long does it take to get a UTR number? 

HMRC automatically issues a UTR number as soon as you register for Self Assessment or you set up a private limited company.

You’ll get a letter from HMRC with the UTR number within 7-10 working days for UK addresses, but it can take up to 21 working days, too, if you’re based abroad.

How can I get my UTR number online?

After registering for tax self-assessment and creating your online account with HMRC, you can find your UTR number online.

Log in to your HMRC account for viewing your tax returns and UTR. Plus, it has become easier now to check your UTR number online via the official HMRC app.

Is my UTR number on my payslip?

If you’ve got a payslip or PAYE coding notice that HMRC sent you, you should be able to find your UTR number there.

By the way, don’t worry if the payslip is 10 or 20 years old, as the UTR number won’t change, ever.

How much tax do I pay with a UTR number?

Let’s assume that you’re a subcontractor working on a couple of construction projects in the UK. Before your contractor can pay you for the first time, he or she must check whether you’re registered for self-employment as well as for CIS.

If the contractors find your UTR on HMRC’s list of CIS-registered subcontractors, they’ll deduct tax at a flat rate of 20% from your payments and pass it on to HMRC.

But if you haven’t given your UTR yet to your employers, or they can’t find your UTR number on the list of CIS subcontractors, they must deduct 30% tax from your pay instead. So, whether you’re living in the UK or abroad, registering for CIS is a smart idea.

You can even apply for gross payment status at the time of the CIS registration process, if you want contractors to pay you in full, without any tax deductions.

Can I have 2 UTR numbers?

No, you’ll get only 1 UTR number, whether it’s a personal UTR or one for a limited company in the United Kingdom. Even if you own multiple companies, each of those will get 1 company UTR number in the UK.

Is UTR the same as National Insurance (NI) number?

Nope. An NI number is a reference number for the country’s social security system.

You have to apply for an NI number when you’ve just turned 16 and you’re working in the UK, applying for a student loan, or you want to claim tax and other state benefits.

In fact, HMRC asks for your National Insurance number and other personal details when you register for self-assessment to get a UTR.

Can I file a tax return without a UTR number?

Long story short, no. You’re definitely going to need your UTR when you submit a self-assessment tax return for the first time.

What if I’ve lost my UTR number?

If you’ve lost or forgotten your UTR number, you can easily recover it from an HMRC document.

But when you can’t get hold of any such documents either, you can ask for your UTR by calling the Self Assessment helpline on a UTR customer service number given below:

  • 0300 200 3310 (if you’re in the UK)

  • 0300 200 3319 (if you’re in the UK)

  • +44 161 931 9070 (if you’re abroad)

It’s also possible to request Corporation Tax UTR from HMRC, in case you’ve got a private limited company in the UK.

For that, you’ll have to provide HMRC with your registered company name and your company registration number (CRN). HMRC will then send the UTR to the business address you had registered with Companies House.

How to contact HMRC for UTR-related and other queries

Apart from the phone numbers we’ve listed above, you can also get in touch with HMRC via:

  • Online videos and webinars. These are available for queries regarding the self-assessment.

  • Twitter. Start your tweet with the tag @HMRCcustomers for general support (please don’t mention your UTR number or any personal info, as it’s a social platform).

  • Webchat. A “speak to the adviser” link will appear whenever an adviser is available, so click on that link immediately. If you don’t, you’ll have to wait till another adviser gets available.

  • Post. Write to HMRC at this address: Self Assessment, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS, United Kingdom. You don’t need to include a city name, PO box, or street name here.

What about Unique Transaction Reference numbers?

Unique Taxpayer Reference numbers aren’t the only UTR numbers out there. You may also see the acronym refer to Unique Transaction Reference numbers. While the two numbers share an abbreviation, they are two very different things with very different uses. Unique Transaction Reference numbers are unique codes meant to help banks identify and recognize financial transactions in India. Keep an eye on this space—we’ll discuss these numbers in greater detail in a future blog post!

If you’re paying UK tax while you’re based overseas, you’ll need to make international payments to HMRC. And when you’ve got the Xe money transfer app and website at your service, you can heave a sigh of relief.

International money transfers with Xe are fast, safe, and as easy as ABC.

 

Get in touch with XE.com

About XE.com

XE can help safeguard your profit margins and improve cashflow through quantifying the FX risk you face and implementing unique strategies to mitigate it. XE Business Solutions provides a comprehensive range of currency services and products to help businesses access competitive rates with greater control.

Deciding when to make an international payment and at what rate can be critical. XE Business Solutions work with businesses to protect bottom-line from exchange rate fluctuations, while the currency experts and risk management specialists act as eyes and ears in the market to protect your profits from the world’s volatile currency markets.

Your company money is safe with XE, their NASDAQ listed parent company, Euronet Worldwide Inc., has a multi billion-dollar market capitalization, and an investment grade credit rating. With offices in the UK, Canada, Europe, APAC and North America they have a truly global coverage.

Are you curious to know more about XE?
Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

Visit XE.com

Visit XE partner page

 

 

 

How can Exchange rate movements affect your business?

11-03-2021 | treasuryXL | XE |

If your business works with international currencies, your business could be impacted by exchange rate movements.

Does your business:

  • Make income from overseas operations?
  • Import or export goods and services from abroad?
  • Pay overseas invoices?
  • Or interact with foreign currencies in any way?

If so, your business can be impacted by exchange rate movements. Whether you’re a sole proprietor or a large corporation, in manufacturing or healthcare, you will face some level of foreign exchange risk when making international payments.

What is foreign exchange risk?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: it’s the possibility that a business’s financial position or performance could be negatively impacted by fluctuations in exchange rates in the foreign currency markets. As the saying goes, the markets never sleep. Exchange rates are prone to fluctuations at any given moment, and while experts can forecast where they think currency values might go, you can’t predict where the rates could go—or what it could mean for your business. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

How does a falling domestic exchange rate affect your business?

A falling domestic exchange rate can:

  • Increase costs for importers and potentially reduce their profitability.
  • Make domestically produced products more competitive against imported products.
  • Increase the cost of capital expenditure (for example, if it includes the importation of capital equipment).
  • Increase the cost of servicing foreign currency debt.
  • Improve exporter competitiveness.
  • Make a business a more attractive investment proposition for foreign investors.
  • Increase the costs of investing in overseas operations.

How does a rising domestic exchange rate impact your business?

On the other hand, a rising domestic exchange rate can:

  • Make exports less competitive, reducing exporter profitability.
  • Decrease the value of investment in foreign subsidiaries and monetary assets (when translating the value of such assets into the domestic currency).
  • Reduce foreign currency income from investments.
  • Reduce the cost of foreign raw materials, giving importers a competitive advantage.
  • Reduce the value of foreign currency liabilities and hence the cost of servicing these liabilities.
  • Reduce the cost of capital expenditure (for example if it includes the importation of capital equipment).
  • Make a business less attractive to foreign investors.

Did you notice anything? No matter which direction the exchange rate is moving, it could have the potential to impact your business—and your bottom line.

How can you protect your business from market volatility?

No one can predict how the markets will move, but a knowledgeable FX provider can give your business the guidance and solutions to help you to make informed decisions to minimize the impact of market motion.

Are you curious to know more about XE?

Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

Visit XE.com

Visit XE partner page

 

 

 

What can we expect from the Pound in 2021?

04-03-2021 | treasuryXL | XE |

The Pound has just recently hit its highest rate against the USD since April 2018. In our forecast, we’ll discuss what we anticipate for the Pound in the coming months of 2021.

The United Kingdom has outstripped other major world economies when it comes to the vaccination rollout and the Bank of England seems to have delayed the potential for negative interest rates, boosting the market’s demand to buy Sterling. However, there is more to consider than just these two obvious factors.

The Pound, at a glance

What’s impacting the Pound right now?

  • The Bank of England stated it expects the UK Economy to “recover rapidly” once out of lockdown.

  • UK consumers have built up around a whopping £154B in savings—signifying pent-up demand when the economy is back open for business.

  • COVID-19 cases are dropping, and vaccinations are increasing.

  • Governor Bailey appears to be ready to buy bonds in stimulus.

  • The furlough scheme does appear to be capping unemployment rates.

These points allude to the potential for a U-shape recovery out of the COVID-19 pandemic recession for the UK.

Compare to the sharp fall experienced at the outbreak of the virus, where we saw the UK economy drop a whopping 20%, which was then followed by a period of flat or marginal changes and ultimately a sharp increase in economic growth.

The Pound, in review

Looking back in recent history, the Sterling Index shows the incredibly negative impact the EU referendum result had on the value of the Pound against a basket of currencies since 2016.

GBP to USD, 2011-2021

Line chart illustrating the Pound sterling to US dollar exchange rate between February 2011 and February 2021.

GBP to Euro, 2011-2021

Line chart illustrating the exchange rate from Pound sterling to Euro between February 2011 and February 2021.

The currency has not recovered to pre-referendum levels against its major counterparts. The sheer uncertainty and political instability in the United Kingdom has been the constant “grey cloud” hanging over the Pound. Accordingly, the number of short positions on the Pound and lack of desire to hold Sterling in a portfolio of currencies has left it out in the cold.

In March and April of 2020 this lack of desire to hold Sterling was amplified when the world’s risk propensity changed and investors and traders alike sold out of anything considered risky—be it the Pound, stocks or even gold—and into the traditional tried and tested safe haven of the US dollar. Sterling traded at its lowest levels since 1985 against the dollar and worst level against the euro since the financial crisis in 2008.

Asset allocation of portfolios added to this sale of GBP as investors sold traditional stocks listed on the London Stock Exchange and bought the tech stocks listed in the US during the initial phases of the pandemic.

However, markets again proved that they can get used to, or price in anything over time, and with lockdowns being eased the Pound stabilised and recovered some of the ground it had lost during the panic buying of US dollars.

The next major event risk was the Brexit deadline of the 31st December 2020, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to deliver and refused to extend. This hampered any upward movement for the Pound and still hamstrings the currency today.

We did however see a Brexit deal agreed and a level of certainty arrive for the UK economy in the short term. Subsequently Sterling managed to make some gains against the euro and US dollar.

So, what has 2021 been like so far and what could happen next?

The markets want the answers to these major questions:

  1. Will the economy open sooner due to the vaccination rollout out, and

  2. Will this be before other global economies?

  3. How long will it take before consumers start spending those savings stored up during 2020 to get the wheels of the economy turning again?

  4. What will be required from the Monetary Policy Committee in terms of stimulus?

With new multi-year highs for GBP against the US dollar during the second week of February, it would seem markets believe, for now at least, that the UK can get going again and ahead of other economies. If the economy does start moving forward, will it be a “rapid recovery” like the Bank of England said it could be?

This has therefore pushed back the prospect of the Bank of England cutting interest rates to negative from May (some forecast) to August.

Things to watch out for and monitor in the near future:

  • Changes or delays to the vaccination roll out program

  • Effectiveness of the vaccinations to new variants/mutations of the COVID-19 virus

  • End to, or extension of, the UK national lockdown

  • The budget speech from Rishi Sunak on March the 3rd, specifically with regard to:

    • The health of the economy

    • Furlough scheme status/extension and its potential impact on unemployment

    • Tax rises to try and start paying for the pandemic relief

The Pound, in summary

The Pound has started stepping out of the shadows of the Brexit uncertainty and looks to be riding the wave of the vaccination rollout. However, there are a number of potential dangers to this, be it final Brexit deal negotiations on financial services or longer lockdowns due to new variants to the virus.

It could be a good opportunity for Sterling sellers currently and would seem prudent to take advantage of this for short-term committed exposures you face in foreign currency.

Are you curious to know more about XE?

Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

Visit XE.com

Visit XE partner page

 

 

 

What’s in store for the US dollar in 2021?

25-02-2021 | treasuryXL | XE |

In the opening weeks of 2021, the US dollar has seen a bout of strength. But how will the value of the dollar fare in the coming months? In the XE forecast, they will tell you what they think.

At this time, the onset of 2021 has brought a bout of US dollar (USD) strength. The USD Index has risen 2.2% from its 34-month low set on January 6th. This recent strength is a major contrast with the -15% performance the USD experienced over the prior nine months.

USD at a glance

What’s impacting the dollar right now?

  • Unemployment fell to 6.3% today from 6.7% last month.

  • The US Treasury bond yield curve is upward sloping and at higher interest rate levels, pointing toward a continued recovery.

  • The IMF, Goldman Sachs and other large investment firms are calling for a boom 2nd half to 2021.

  • COVID-19 cases have fallen dramatically in the US this week, and Johnson & Johnson is about to announce their vaccine.

These data points all hint towards positive US economic growth as 2021 continues.

Given the new U.S. presidential administration and the development of COVID-19 vaccinations, market participants are wondering what’s in store for the USD in 2021. To answer this question, it’s important to first review the dollar’s recent history.

The US dollar in review

From 2011 to early 2020, the dollar appreciated nearly +28% as global investors flocked to the US markets to buy US assets and participate in the booming US economy. This dollar uptrend held despite then-President Trump’s efforts to talk down the dollar, as higher US treasury yields and continued equity market returns kept the dollar firm.

Then COVID-19 struck in March 2020, changing everything.

The dollar initially sank in sympathy as global equity markets began to unravel. However, once the magnitude of COVID-19’s economic impact became more apparent, a new market “risk aversion” theme took hold. Investors quickly bailed on risky assets and flocked to USD-denominated “safe-haven” assets en masse, believing they would be more likely to maintain their value and hold steady even as financial markets crumbled.

In just two weeks, this mad dash into safe-haven USD assets spiked the USD Index +7.5% and left the USD with an artificial “risk aversion” premium built into its value from its perceived low uncertainty.

It has been this risk-aversion premium that then most influenced the USD’s 2020 USD trading.  For the prior nine years, traders had bought USD on good investor news to invest in US assets In the new COVID-19 world, traders did the opposite, selling USD on good market news.

Why?

Because traders were already overweight US assets and even more so with the newly purchased safe haven assets. So, as 2020 unfolded and the investment climate improved due to central bank and government actions, the need for safe-haven assets diminished and traders began unwinding these positions.

And, with this, the negative equity market correlation was born, and flipped risk-on and risk-off its head.

Ordinarily, the value of USD assets would rise in conjunction with increased market optimism (risk-on), and uncertainty or negativity would drive investors to sell their riskier assets in favor of safer ones (risk-off). Good news for investors would mean good news for the dollar, and the same with bad news.

Now, good news for investors was bad news for the dollar, and bad news for investors was good news for the dollar.  Economic fundamentals didn’t matter.

This theme held strong for the remainder of 2020. If US stocks went up (and they did!), then the USD would fall (and it did!). It was virtually guaranteed.

What’s going to happen in 2021?

To answer that question, we’ll need to consider two key questions.

  1. Will 2021 be a continuation of 2020’s risk-aversion trading theme?

  2. Will traders conclude that the USD risk-aversion premium has been wiped out and it is time to start trading off market fundamentals?

Up until this week, 2021 FX trading was looking just like 2020. Post-US election equity markets surged on the elimination of election risk, positive vaccine news and the idea of a large US fiscal stimulus package. Unsurprisingly, the USD fell -6%. And on January 6th, after the storming of the US Capitol, when uncertainty was reintroduced to the markets, the USD rose 2%.

So, what will it be for the dollar going forward? It depends on whether or not you believe the risk-aversion trading scenario will continue.

  • If you do believe this, then you likely believe the US dollar will continue to depreciate as global equity markets continue to move higher.

  • If you don’t believe this, then you believe the worst of the pandemic is over, traders have priced out the “risk-aversion premium” to the dollar, and that the USD will trade on fundamentals again—meaning good economic data and continued equity market returns will strengthen the USD.

In conclusion?

Should 2020’s risk-on and risk-off trend reverse, we will see a strong US dollar. The IMF recently raised the US’s 2021 GDP forecast to 5.1% from 3.1%, which was an outlier to the EU.

Additional vaccines coming onto the market could boost confidence, as would an additional fiscal stimulus package. The US could see unleashed economic growth in the second half of 2020, continuing to draw global capital.  Additionally, some currency moves may have gone too far, and natural flows will come back to the USD and US markets.

If February’s first week of trading is any indication, it looks like 2020’s negative correlation has broken as both the dollar and equity markets rallied in sync.

Are you curious to know more about XE?

Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

Visit XE.com

Visit XE partner page

 

 

 

Who sets the rates? Common questions about currency exchange rates

18-02-2021 | treasuryXL | XE |

Ever wondered where the rates come from, and how they can impact you?
We answer some common questions in this guide to exchange rates.

Who’s in charge of setting currency exchange rates? If you’ve ever sent money overseas or checked the rates, this is a question that may have definitely crossed your mind. Who decides what is the value of money, and why do rates fluctuate that much during the day?

It’s normal to wonder, and fortunately for you, we’ve got the answers to those questions and more.

How do currency exchange rates work?

Every country in the world has its own currency, and each of these currencies is valued differently. When you exchange one currency for another, you’re actually buying money, just in a different currency than the one used in your country.

The exchange rate tells you how much the currency used in your country is worth in foreign currency. The rates constantly change for some countries, whereas others use fixed exchange rates. As a rule of thumb, a country’s social and economic outlook is the main factor that influences the currency exchange rate.

That’s the quick answer. If you’re in the mood for a more in-depth look, check out our previous blog post.

What are the main types of exchange rates?

The main types of rates are variable (or flexible) and fixed rates.

Most countries have variable currency exchange rates, which are determined by the foreign exchange market. Because these rates are flexible, they fluctuate every minute, often influenced by market movements, political events, economic forecasts, and more.

Countries such as the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Mexico all use flexible exchange rates. It’s important to note that even though government policies can influence currency exchange rates, the government can’t actually regulate them. The rates are always determined by Forex traders on the foreign exchange market.

Several countries use fixed currency rates, and that is because the government dictates when the rates change. This is the case for the Saudi Arabian riyal, for example. The fixed rates are pegged to the U.S. dollar, and the central bank in the countries that use this system holds U.S. dollars to keep the rate fixed.

How do forex traders establish currency exchange rates?

The market forces of supply and demand are the main factors that determine currency exchange rates. The level of demand for a currency determines its value in relationship with other currencies. For example, if the demand for British pounds by Americans increases, the supply-demand forces will cause an increase of the British pound’s price in relation to the dollar.

The exchange rates between two countries are affected by countless factors, both geopolitical and economic. Some of the most common of them include:

  • Inflation reports

  • Interest rate changes

  • Gross domestic product numbers

  • Unemployment rates.

Forex traders take all these factors and more into account when establishing currency exchange rates. If a country has a strong economy that’s growing, investors will be interested in buying its goods and services, which means that they’ll need more of its currency.

On the other hand, when a country has an unstable economy, investors will be put off and less willing to invest, which means that the currency will not be highly valued. Investors always want to make sure they will get paid back before deciding to hold government bonds in a particular currency.

How do exchange rates affect you?

The value of money affects every individual on a daily basis, as the prices of essentials such as groceries and gas at the pump are correlated to it. When the value of money declines steadily over time, it causes inflation, and the result of that is a price increase for everything, including basic goods.

If you’re traveling or making a payment to another country that uses a different currency, it’s important to check for exchange rate values and plan your finances accordingly. Many people check whether the currency of the country of their destination is strong or weak before booking a vacation. That’s because a weak currency in the destination country means that you can buy more of it with your own currency, so you have more money to spend on your trip.

How can you get the best rates when sending money overseas?

As we’ve said before, unfortunately there’s no specific time where you can guarantee you’ll get a great rate. But there are a few things you can do to help yourself out.

If you’re transferring money to someone in another country, you need to look carefully at your options, as some transfer methods are more expensive than others. For example, if you’re using your bank to make a transfer, you’ll often need to pay a fee on top of the exchange rates set by the bank, which are usually disadvantageous.

By using an online money transfer service such as Xe, you can save money on fees and get great exchange rates. Your money will also reach its destination faster, and the entire process of making the transfer is easy both on the website and the mobile app.

Are you curious to know more about XE?
Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

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How do Foreign currency exchange rates work?

11-02-2021 | treasuryXL | XE |

Ever checked the rates and wondered what’s happened to give you the rate you see? Here we break it down for you—and try to make it as simple and painless as possible.
If you’re traveling abroad for a holiday, need to pay for a school fee in another country or you want to buy an item from a foreign country,  you will need a currency exchange to carry out your transaction. But how can you tell the exact amount your currency is worth when it is exchanged into a foreign currency? And who’s setting them?

For the first question, you can easily do that on Xe’s Currency Converter. The second question? That’ll take a little more time to understand. We’ll try to make it as quick (and painless) as possible for you!

Currency exchange rates: what they are, and how they work

Exchange rates indicate how much your currency is worth if exchanged into a foreign currency. For example, on December 30, 2020, 1 U.S. dollar was equal to 0.748067 British pounds.

Currency exchange transactions happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a market that transact over $6 trillion a day. Exchange rates are constantly fluctuating as foreign currencies are actively traded. Various trading activities boost or lower the values of different currencies.

Institutions and traders buy and sell foreign currencies in the global market 24 hours a day. For a trade to be completed, at least one currency must be exchanged for another. For example, in order to buy the U.S. dollar another currency is required for payment. Whatever currency is used, either the euros, yen, or Canadian dollar, etc. will create a currency pair. For example, if you use U.S. dollars (USD) to buy the Japanese yen, the exchange rate will be for the JPY/USD pair.

How are international exchange rates determined?

Foreign exchange rates are determined in various countries using two key methods: flexible and fixed rate. While flexible exchange rates are constantly changing, fixed rates hardly ever change. (Though you probably figured that out from their names.)

Flexible exchange rates

The foreign exchange market or forex determines most currency exchange rates. These rates are known as flexible exchange rates. These rates are constantly changing from one moment to the next. Flexible exchange rates are influenced by the open market through demand and supply on world currency markets. As such, if the demand for a specific currency is high, the value of such currency will most likely increase. But if the demand of a particular currency falls, its value in the foreign exchange market falls too.

Most major global currencies often have flexible exchange rates. These include the British pounds, Mexican pesos, European euros, Japanese yen, Canadian dollars, and others.

The government of these countries and their central banks do not interfere to keep their exchange rates fixed. Though their policies can affect rates in the long run, for most of these nations their governments can only impact and not regulate exchange rates.

Fixed exchange rates

Countries that use fixed or pegged foreign exchange rates do so via their central bank. These countries set their rate against another major world currency like the United States dollar, euro or yen.

To regulate and maintain the fixed exchange rate, the government of these countries buy and sell their own currency against the foreign currency to which it is pegged. Only the governments of these countries can determine when their foreign exchange rates should change.

Countries that use the fixed exchange rate method include Saudi Arabia and China. These countries ensure that their central banks have sufficient amounts of money in their foreign currency reserves to determine the amount their currency is worth in the foreign exchange market.

Okay, but what causes the rates to change?

Rates change when currency values change. There are several key factors that affect the movement and values of local and foreign currencies. These include three key factors known as:

  1. Interest rates

  2. Money supply

  3. Financial stability

Due to these factors, the demand for a particular country’s currency, depends on what is happening in that country.

Interest rates

The interest rates a country’s central bank is setting is a key factor that will influence the country’s exchange rate. Higher interest rates have positive impacts on the value of the country’s currency. Investors are more likely to exchange their currency for one with higher interest rates, and then save it in that country’s bank to benefit from the higher interest rate.

Money supply

The money supply made available by a country’s central bank can influence the value of the currency in the foreign exchange market. For example, if there is too much money in circulation, there will be too much of it in exchange for very few goods.

Currency holders will most likely bid up the costs of goods and services which will trigger inflation. In the event that too much money is printed and in circulation in a particular country, it triggers hyperinflation and drives down their currency value in the foreign exchange market. Cash holders prefer to invest in countries with little or no inflation.

Financial stability

The financial stability and economic growth of a country can affect its foreign exchange rates. Investors are more likely to buy goods and services from countries with a strong and growing economy. This means they will need more of such a country’s currency to buy from them. this will increase the demand for such currency and ultimately boosts its value in the foreign exchange market.

If the economy of the country is in a bad shape, investors are less likely to trade with them. Investors are only interested in trading with countries that can provide gains from holding government bonds in that currency.

Are you curious to know more about XE?
Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

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How Do I Spot an Opportunity?

04-02-2021 | treasuryXL | XE |

There are a few signs and behavioral patterns that can indicate someone who would be a good fit to transfer money with XE.

Finding opportunities to turn prospects into Xe customers can be difficult. Though some people do have plans to transfer money overseas and may be in search of the right provider to facilitate their transfers, many other people as, and some may be perfectly satisfied using their bank or a wire transfer to send their money overseas. There are a few things that you can bring up in your discussions or keep your eyes (and ears) open for in order to make the search a little easier. Let’s talk about how you can find the right opportunities.

Spotting a potential opportunity

Though everyone is different, there are a few signs and behavioral patterns that can indicate someone who would be a good fit to transfer money with Xe.

There’s one question that reigns above all others: do they make international payments? This is the fundamental question, and the first one you should look to answer. Do they make international payments or deal with foreign currencies in any capacity? Then they are someone who could benefit from a fast, cost-effective, and easy-to-use money transfer solution.

Signs of a potential opportunity: individual edition

Individuals and businesses will have different signs, and different uses for money transfer. Some examples of people who fit this category include:

  • Clients living in other countries

  • Business people with clients who live overseas

  • Expats from another country

  • People who own property in another country

  • People who work with or get paid by a company in another country

  • People who have family overseas

  • People who have shares or dividends coming from another country

  • People receiving an inheritance, gift payments, or other sums of money from overseas

  • Individuals selling property with plans to relocate abroad

  • People purchasing goods from overseas

  • Workers on temporary overseas work secondments

  • People with overseas pensions

  • Account holders of multi-currency bank accounts.

Identifying someone who has a need for international money transfer is the first step. The next step is convincing them that they shouldn’t just use their local bank branch or the first provider they come across: they should use Xe.

There are two key areas to focus on:

  • Exchange rates

  • Bank costs associated with international payments.

Banks and other providers often set rates that favor themselves, not the client. In addition, these institutions often come with numerous additional fees (sometimes even hidden within the transaction). On the other hand, the Xe rate comes straight from the live currency markets, and is a true, honest reflection of the mid-market rate, with no hidden margins. In addition, there are no hidden fees with Xe: what your client sees is what they will get.

Signs of a potential business opportunity

Individuals aren’t the only ones who need money transfer; there are plenty of businesses who could benefit from working with Xe. Some examples of good opportunities include:

  • Clients with overseas offices

  • Businesses with a globally-located workforce

  • Managers of international payroll

  • Businesses that import or export

  • Offshore investors

  • Businesses with multi-currency bank accounts

  • Any business that sends and/or receives international payments.

Within the realm of international payments, there are a few common concerns that could be worth discussing further. Consider discussing:

  • Do they bill clients in your local currency or their local currency?

  • Do they talk about increased costs overseas, or decreased profits on exports?

  • Are they concerned with the bank costs associated with making international payments?

These questions can help you to better understand what they’re looking for from a money transfer and FX provider, whether it’s improving their profits, cutting out unnecessary costs, or ensuring that they aren’t exposed to FX risk when they make their international payments.

Are you curious to know more about XE?
Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

Visit XE.com

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What’s Money Transfer really about?

21-01-2021 | treasuryXL | XE |

Don’t let the technical details overwhelm you. Online money transfer is a quick, simple, and secure process for any of your currency exchange needs.

Have you ever sent money via any means that doesn’t require walking into a physical bank to complete the transaction? That’s money transfer. It’s a simple process of receiving or sending money to a local or an international recipient without any physical cash.

Money transfers are usually available in two forms: payment and transfer.

  • When you use a debit card at a store or your boss gives you your paycheck through direct deposit, you’re experiencing small-scale money transfer.

  • When you’re sending money to another account or person, whether it’s across town or across the world, you’re also making a transfer.

There are four key types of money transfer services to choose from. These are:

  1. Wire transfer

  2. Online money transfer

  3. Bank draft

  4. Money orders

You can use any of these methods for local and international money transfers—but not all options are created equal.

What’s the difference between the four types of money transfer?

Wire transfers are one of the common money transfer services that you can use to transfer funds from one bank account to another bank account or to a cash office.

Online money transfer usually involves sending and receiving funds via an online remittance company (such as Xe) anywhere in the world. Users can easily transfer funds from their phone or their desktop computer, and watch them be deposited in their recipient’s bank account within days (or hours, or even minutes). Better still, funds can be transferred in almost all known currencies across the world.

Bank drafts are mostly used for making payments to companies or organizations abroad. A money transfer company or a bank can issue a bank draft and it is cashable at a financial institution. Bank drafts seem to be the most expensive type of money transfer. However, larger companies and institutions prefer using bank drafts because of their audit trail features and security.

To use a money order for sending funds, the sender is required to go to a cash office to create the money order for a precise cash office and recipient to pick up. All the sender has to do is notify the recipient about the money order. It’s the responsibility of the recipient to pick up the money order at the cash office.

What type of money transfer should you choose?

The easiest, fastest, and most reliable method of money transfer is online money transfer. It involves sending or receiving money anywhere across the world instantly via an online remittance service provider such as XE.

For a small fee, you can easily send money abroad to anyone including your spouse, friends, loved ones, colleagues, employers or even your own account in another country. The online remittance service provider you choose (hint, hint, we recommend choosing Xe) will complete the transaction via their secured web-based platform so your recipient can get the money in no time at all.

What makes online money transfer such a great method? Well…

Why should you choose online money transfer over the other methods?

These are the key benefits of sending money via online money transfer:

  • It’s fast, secure, and safe

How soon do you want your recipient to get the money you want to send over to them? If you choose an online money transfer service, your recipient will get the money quickly, making it the best choice when you’re on a deadline. Online money transfer isn’t just fast, it’s also secure and convenient. The process is simple and will take you just a couple of minutes on the phone or online, and your money and information will be secure during its trip around the world. Even more, if your money isn’t transferred or delivered for whatever reason, the money transfer company will inform you and help you to resolve the situation. If you ever need a fast, secure, and safe method of sending money or payments abroad, money transfer is the best option.

  • You won’t pay as much in service charges

Money transfer is the cheapest method of sending money to anyone or making payments either locally or abroad. If you choose the bank-to-bank method of transferring money or use a third-party agent, you’ll end up paying a lot of fees. This is mostly because banks and third-party agents have a larger overhead cost which they transfer to their customers in form of charges. And those upfront transfer fees aren’t the only extra cost—you’ll also get a worse exchange rate, and could be charged additional hidden fees during the transaction. Those costs add up!

In contrast, online money transfer service providers only charge a small sum, and you’ll always know what you’re paying before you confirm the money transfer. So, if you’re interested in paying a lot less for a faster and safer money transfer method, use an online money transfer service like Xe.

  • There’s no paperwork!

Did you just breathe a sigh of relief? Online money transfer doesn’t involve any paperwork. You wouldn’t have to bother about filling paper forms or stacking paper receipts as proof of transactions. You can easily complete all your transactions online without any paper and you can view your transactions history anytime you want. And as an added bonus, if you’re planning to send multiple money transfers to the same recipient, we’ll securely save their information (and yours) for quick transfers in the future.

  • You can get dedicated service

Have you ever had any reason to transfer money during an emergency in the middle of the night or while you’re busy at work? Going to the bank at such hours or even a third-party agent isn’t an option. But with online money transfer, you can easily initiate a money transfer at any hour of the day or night, without even getting out of bed. Online money transfer services have no opening or closing hours. Rather, they are available 24/7 to help you initiate whatever transaction you want. More so, customer support is often available 24/7 as well, making the online money transfer a more convenient option.

  • It’s efficient

If you decide to send money via a bank, here’s what you’ll have to do:

  1. Go to the bank. (Hope you remembered to get your recipient’s information beforehand!)

  2. Wait in line. (Who knows how long that’ll take?)

  3. Once you reach a teller, fill out the transfer paperwork. (Already sent a transfer to this person, at this location? Doesn’t matter.)

Online money transfers have no wait time, and no queues. You’re not required to leave the spot you are in or visit any location to make a money transfer. The entire process is easy, dependable, and efficient.

  • It’s user-friendly

Using an online money transfer platform doesn’t require any skill or knowledge. Rather, online money transfer platforms are user-friendly, easier to navigate and use for any type of money transfer without the assistance of anyone or a third-party. This makes the entire user experience a very positive one giving you the opportunity to complete as many transactions as you want.

Interested in sending money with Xe? Take just 3 minutes to see what you’ll need to do.

Why choose Xe Money Transfer?

  • Sending money via Xe is fast, convenient, user-friendly, and secure.

  • Money transfers are completed within 1-4 business days, but often complete within 24 hours (or less).

  • You’ll get competitive exchange rates for your money.

  • You can transfer money to over 130 countries.

  • You can download the Xe mobile app on AppStore or Google Play and transfer money on the go.

  • Enjoy expert customer support for all transactions and inquiries

  • No hidden fees.

When you make a money transfer through Xe, you can trust that your money will reach its destination quickly, securely, and with no hidden fees.

Are you curious to know more about XE?
Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

Visit XE.com

Visit XE partner page

 

 

 

What is a Unique Transaction Reference (UTR) number?

17-12-2020 | treasuryXL | XE |

Making a bank transaction or money transfer to or from India? Then you’ll need a UTR number. Here’s what it is, what it does, and how to find yours.

If you’ve ever made any inter-bank transactions in India, you’re probably familiar with UTR numbers. If you haven’t but plan on making transactions in the future, this number is a key ingredient that you’ll need if you want to make any kind of money transfer. So, what exactly is a UTR number and why is it important to your transactions?

What is a UTR number in India?

In India, “UTR number” means Unique Transaction Reference number. This number is used to identify a specific bank transaction in India. All banks in India use UTR numbers for all types of money transfer. Every UTR number is unique and each is generated to identify each fund transfer. UTR numbers in India are generated by the banks that initiate the transfer. You can easily use the UTR number to track the status of your transactions.

How do I find a UTR number?

Where exactly can you find your UTR number for each transaction? All you have to do is look at your bank statement for your UTR number. The UTR number is listed as “Ref no.” just below each transaction details. UTR numbers in India often look like this:

XXXXR7310682908954385XX

The few characters of each UTR number usually vary depending on the bank that generates them.

One of the quickest and most convenient methods of getting a specific transaction’s UTR number is from your account statement. You can easily download or just view this statement via your bank’s mobile app or internet banking. The UTR number is the 22 or 16 characters usually next to the transaction date.

What’s the importance of a UTR number in India?

The importance of a UTR number in India is to recognize and keep an eye on financial transactions. Banks can use UTR numbers to help you track your fund transfers if they are delayed, stuck, or if you intend to refer to any previous transaction for whatever reasons.

For instance, if you send some amount of money to someone and he or she claims the money wasn’t delivered or the amount was different, the bank that facilitates the transaction can use the UTR number to track it and to resolve the issue easily.

UTR numbers are generated in India when money is transferred between two banks. You can use two key methods to transfer funds between accounts held in various banks in India. The first is the National Electronic Fund Transfer normally known as NEFT. The other is the Real Time Gross Settlement known as the RTGS.

When you make NEFT or RTGS transactions in India, UTR numbers are generated. Though NEFT transactions aren’t processed instantly. Rather, they are processed in batches which means the fund transfer isn’t completed instantly. Currently in India, NEFT is done in half hourly batches from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and working Saturdays.

In contrast, when you make a money transfer using RTGS in India, the fund transfer is processed instantly. As soon as you transfer funds via RTGS, the money is deposited to the recipient’s account within a period of two hours. As such, RTGS is the fastest process for transferring funds from one bank to another. Nonetheless, you can only use RTGS when the amount of money you’re transferring is less than Rs 2,00,000.

How to identify the UTR number of RTGS transactions

RTGS transactions UTR numbers are 22 characters long while NEFT transactions UTR numbers are 16 characters long. Each of the two types of bank transactions have a unique UTR number format. The UTR number format for RTGS transaction is:

XXXXRCYYYYMMDD########

Here’s a simple breakdown of the UTR number of RTGS transactions:

  • XXXX – indicates IFSC (this is the first 4 characters) and is the bank code of the sender

  • R – indicates RTGS system

  • C – indicates the transaction channel

  • YYYYMMDD – indicates the date of the transaction in this order: year, month, and day

  • ######## – indicates the sequence number

How to find the UTR number of a NEFT transaction

As we mentioned earlier, you can find the UTR number of any transaction by checking the detailed account statement via the online banking section of your bank. So, how can you see the UTR number of a specific NEFT transaction? All you have to do is click on the transaction details or narration. You will see a detailed description of the said transaction.

You can easily identify every type of transaction by the format of their UTR number. As we mentioned earlier, the UTR number of NEFT transactions is 16 characters long. You can easily use the UTR number of a NEFT transaction to track the status of the transaction.

How to use a UTR number to track your transaction status in India

If your NEFT transfer is delayed, you may check the status of the transaction by using the UTR number. Or in the event that your account has been debited for a specific transaction but the recipient is yet to receive the fund, you can easily contact the bank’s customer support asking them to track the transaction via the UTR number.

Another option is to reach out to your assigned Relationship Manager asking them to track the status of the transaction using the UTR number.

Here are other methods of tracking the status of your transaction using the UTR number:

  • Visit your bank’s mobile app or internet banking account

  • Check the previous transfer section

  • Search for the specific transaction with the UTR number

  • The status of the transaction will be displayed

 

Get in touch with XE.com

About XE.com

XE can help safeguard your profit margins and improve cashflow through quantifying the FX risk you face and implementing unique strategies to mitigate it. XE Business Solutions provides a comprehensive range of currency services and products to help businesses access competitive rates with greater control.

Deciding when to make an international payment and at what rate can be critical. XE Business Solutions work with businesses to protect bottom-line from exchange rate fluctuations, while the currency experts and risk management specialists act as eyes and ears in the market to protect your profits from the world’s volatile currency markets.

Your company money is safe with XE, their NASDAQ listed parent company, Euronet Worldwide Inc., has a multi billion-dollar market capitalization, and an investment grade credit rating. With offices in the UK, Canada, Europe, APAC and North America they have a truly global coverage.

Are you curious to know more about XE?
Maurits Houthoff, senior business development manager at XE.com, is always in for a cup of coffee, mail or call to provide you detailed information.

 

 

Visit XE.com

Visit XE partner page