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Kiwi.com, Highly Commended, Best Foreign Exchange Solution

Lucie Brešová, Kiwi.com and Pavel Knecht, Citi

This is a combined foreign exchange and virtual card accounts (VCA) solution which this company has deployed and which has enabled it to leapfrog its peers. The company has grown at a phenomenal rate since it launched in 2012. Hear what they have done with one global bank.

Photo of Lucie Brešová, Kiwi.com and Pavel Knecht, Citi.

Lucie Brešová

Managing Director

Kiwi.com, formerly Skypicker.com, is an innovative travel search and booking engine that helps users find and book flights through a ticket buying algorithm that identifies inexpensive, unseen tickets and routes, and automates the buying process. Founded in 2012, the Czech Republic-based company has been ranked among the fastest growing start-ups in Central Europe and recently recorded a monthly turnover of over €20m. In 2015, Skypicker.com experienced 1,500% year-on-year revenue growth and in response reviewed its internal operations and processes to ensure that the business was equipped to manage and facilitate continued growth.

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The challenge

When the company first launched, it worked with numerous financial institutions including card acquirers, banks, card issuers and FX providers. As the company grew, the need for full system integration and automation increased. Its existing systems were inefficient and did not allow for the receipt of harmonised real-time information.

The solution

The company appointed Citi to review its business model and challenges. Together, they developed a multifaceted solution that addressed Kiwi.com’s needs while supporting the company as it continued its transformation from a start-up to a more mature corporation.

As Lucie Brešová, Kiwi.com’s MD, explains: “A fully-automated global cash management solution was designed which allows us to receive payments in over 20 currencies to a single account destination with full control of FX conversion rates, as well as make payments in over 30 currencies without necessitating cross-currency payments.”

The company has a single point of contact to handle queries, resolve issues, and deliver standardised reporting. The solution is based on CitiFX Instant FXSM, which is a multi-currency pricing solution that provides streaming and guaranteed FX rates. This allows the company to expand its global audience while controlling FX risks. CitiFX Instant FXSM can be used to price goods and services in local currencies for end consumers, as a mechanism to protect margins from FX fluctuations, to automatically convert local currency cash balances on a daily basis, and in some instances help generate incremental, risk-free revenue on FX conversions. CitiFX Instant FXSM allows Kiwi.com to secure the relevant conversion rate and lock-in margins at the time a user purchases a flight ticket.

This tool allows Kiwi.com to substantially reduce FX risk associated with collections. In addition, the use of guaranteed rates for Citi Virtual Card Accounts (VCA) payments also allows the company to lock-in margins and realise additional revenue streams from FX mark-ups without any negative impact on its customers.

Brešová comments: “Our users now get even better prices for flight tickets and are no longer reliant on the unpredictable conversion rates provided by traditional bank technologies, payment processors and card schemes.”

Kiwi.com also worked closely with Citi to find a suitable card acquirer that it could partner with. By holding its accounts with Citi, all payments from the card acquirer could be considered as book transfers, allowing the company to speed up the collections process. This served to improve cash flow and significantly decrease costs for foreign currency incoming payments.

Best practice and innovation

  • This is the first time that a combined Instant FXSM and a VCA solution have been implemented globally.

  • It was successfully implemented in just five months.

  • The solution significantly improved cash flow, shortening the cash conversion cycle from five to zero days.

  • The solution introduced end-to-end flow automation, the first of its kind for a Citi client globally.

Brešová concludes: “We have grown at a phenomenal rate since we launched, creating a number of opportunities and challenges. Our combined Instant FXSM/VCA solution meets all of the company’s needs, both now and in the future and – as the first solution of its type globally – enables us to leapfrog our peers.”

Key benefits

  • Significant cost savings.

  • Cash flow improved.

  • Multi-currency pricing eliminates FX risk.

  • Real-time reporting.

  • 24x7 customer service.

  • Global account opening.

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