A note from Louise: Receiving payment for editorial freelancing can leave us editors and proofreaders feeling a little down in the mouth when we see chunks of our hard-earned cash being swallowed up by transaction and currency-conversion fees. Only recently I had to add £15 to an invoice for a Canadian publisher in order to cover my PayPal fees – not something I felt good about, considering this client is a vibrant start-up with a fair-trade policy for its authors. Lloyds TSB also charged me over £13.60 for the privilege of receiving a payment from a Spanish client. For an invoice of approximately £200 this felt like a kick in the teeth.
I'm therefore delighted to welcome my editorial colleague Averill Buchanan to the Parlour with her excellent guest article about CurrencyFair. From their website: "Our unique, new peer-to-peer marketplace ensures big savings on exchange rates and fees ... an efficient and safe alternative to ridiculous bank and broker charges." Interested? Read on ...
I've just completed my first set of transactions using CurrencyFair, a peer-to-peer marketplace that allows you to exchange and send funds in a wide variety of currencies, and thought that others might be interested (especially after hearing some horror stories about PayPal freezing people’s accounts).
I needed to pay a membership fee to an organization in Dublin who don't offer PayPal as a payment option (because it costs them too much). So I set up a business account with CurrencyFair (CF), transferred money from my sterling bank account, exchanged it through CF (they make the process very easy), after which it went into my CF euro account. I was then able to pay the organization their membership using IBAN from my CF euro account. The entire cost to me was €3.
I finished an editing job for a client in Ireland and invoiced him in euros. I gave him the details of the CF account in Dublin along with my CF reference number. He paid online using his regular bank interface on Thursday (presumably at no cost to him) and I received the money in my CF euro account the following Tuesday. I then exchanged it to sterling (for a fee of £3) and transferred it to my own bank account on the same day.
Had I invoiced and been paid by my client through PayPal it would have cost me at least £20 more, and PayPal doesn't allow you to shop around for the best exchange rate. They process payments in and out of the US, just like any other currency. They charge a flat fee for each transaction – 3 units of whatever currency you are exchanging to/from.
As a freelancer, you are required to set up a business account with CurrencyFair (something to do with money laundering), but a business account doesn't cost you anything – it’s just the same as a personal account in every other respect. They will want to see scans of passport and other documents proving your address – just as if you were setting up a regular bank account – and it takes a day or so to set up a new account.
But what I’m most impressed with about CurrencyFair is the personal attention. Tim Porter, an Associate Director, took the trouble to phone me at a time that suited me, to answer all my questions, and he’s been on the end of emails all through the process.
Should anyone else like to try CurrencyFair as a replacement for PayPal (and I highly recommend it), Tim is quite happy to speak to you about it. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read more about the benefits, the website gives some live examples of what you can save by using CurrencyFair instead of a regular bank or broker.
No doubt there are other providers offering similar services, so if you know of any that you'd like to recommend or share your experiences about, please leave a comment.
Copyright 2013 Averill Buchanan
Bio: Averill Buchanan is a freelance editor, proofreader and book indexer.
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