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Flywire’s Ryan Frere On Circumventing the Bamboo Curtain to Offer Cross Border Payments in China

Interview by Kate Goldfinch

TFT: What trends do you see in the global cross-border market for 2019? 
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Ryan Frere, Flywire

RF: The market for cross border payments is worth over $20 trillion worldwide, with the global education and healthcare markets alone valued at $800bn and $500bn respectively. Businesses and organisations operate internationally as the demand for services and products is high, however these products are becoming more accessible every day. Borders shouldn’t slow money down, it needs to move to keep up with these demands. Education, Healthcare, Travel are all key drivers for international mobility and companies can easily expand their reach through e-commerce and social platforms.

TFT: What market share in the global cross border market do you aim for?

This depends on the vertical and size of the market. For education, Flywire is the leader in 5 core destination markets and there’s no reason why we won’t be able to expand further. Healthcare needs are typically domestic first, followed by the need to support cross border transactions. The commercial vertical is very segmented so we’ve expanded into the adventure travel space and will look to gain market share with those companies before expanding more broadly.

Since UnionPay is such a strong brand and the preferred payment option for payers in China, we knew that a relationship with UnionPay would be key to our success with Chinese payers.

TFT: The Chinese ecosystem is very closed. How did you partner with Union Pay?

Since UnionPay is such a strong brand and the preferred payment option for payers in China, we knew that a relationship with UnionPay would be key to our success with Chinese payers. We started by acquiring UnionPay transactions through a global acquirer, based on the early success of the payment method in our solution. We then transitioned to a partnership with Union Pay directly. Both companies place strategic importance on the reliable flow of cross border payments for Education and Healthcare so there is much in common between us and UnionPay. 

TFT: What are the main goals of the partnership with Union Pay?

Our goal is to provide the best payment methods for our client’s payers across the globe. Our partnership with UnionPay provides a familiar payment method for Chinese payers that is best in class for cross border payments in Education and Healthcare. This means it creates value around speed, security and cost for our payers and clients. 

TFT: What does the next 5 years hold for the payments industry and where does Flywire fit in?

In 5 years, I’d expect the global movement of funds to be uninhibited irrespective of the markets involved.  Payers will be able to have a local payment experience regardless of where the destination of their payment is. In addition to that, it will be cost effective and transparent. Our service is working towards this future, with our vision being to provide the best marketplace of methods that supports both local in, and local out, in each of our supported markets.

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