Web Site Assists Foreign Transactions

Companies that buy goods and services overseas and pay for them in local currencies know that what you pay depends on when you pay.

If the local currency tanks, the Canada-based payer makes out; if the value of local currency rises, the Canadians take a bath. Large multinational corporations have entire departments that track currency fluctuations and try to determine the most advantageous moment to pay a bill-today, tomorrow or next week. But most small and midsize companies are not so well informed and therefore miss an opportunity to save (or earn) money on every foreign transaction.

To their aid comes www.fx4business.com, a Web site built by Thomas Cook Currency Services Inc. in Toronto, whose expertise in foreign exchange is built on a century of experience with bureaux in more than 100 countries. The Web site offers advice as well as links to many other sites offering advice about in which direction foreign currencies are headed. And when the payer has decided when to pay, the site’s Virtual Trading Desk will pay the bill for them, once a trading account has been established.

“This is the first time that people have had the ability to send a draft of Japanese yen or Italian lira from their office with current rates and know exactly what it is costing them,” says John Telford, senior vice president of corporate foreign exchange at Thomas Cook.

The Web site was first launched last year, but a recent relaunch has added new information and new capabilities, such as allowing companies in the United Kingdom and the United States to pay bills via Virtual Trading Desk. Thomas Cook makes money on each transaction, charging US$15 for a wire transfer and $5 for a bank draft.

“Until now, some businesses literally had to walk into the bank branch and have someone wire the money,” says Telford. “This is a big improvement.”