Leatherback is giving businesses across the world a chance to own international bank accounts

Dennis Da-ala Mirilla
Leatherback is giving businesses across the world access to own international bank accounts

As the human race moves closer to its goal of a world without borders, global tech industry insiders have talked a lot about making money and payments more open to everyone. Innovators are looking for ways to bridge the gap between the various currencies in the world. This has led to the rise of fintech startups in Africa, offering businesses and individuals products that enable them to own accounts in currencies aside from the local ones in their base.

Leatherback, a fintech startup on the rise, has introduced ways to shake up the ecosystem and do its part to make the world borderless in the future.

On the Leatherback app, features abound. Its marquee product is eighteen different foreign bank accounts for individual users and businesses. Users who onboard the platform automatically get an account in the currency of the country in which they are onboard. In Nigeria, users get a Naira account; in the UK, users get a Pound account.

This feature immediately sets the stage for yet another fintech startup that wants to compete in an ecosystem where the dollar is very important. Founders incorporate their companies in countries that have dollars as the legal tender. With the CBN’s new policies, which aim to get more transactions done in Naira by companies that only work in Naira, it’s up to these fintech startups to fill the gaps these policies have left with creative solutions.

Only a lack of valid IDs and proof of address can deter young Nigerians and the long streak of companies catering to them from transacting in this highly competitive market.

Users setting up business accounts on Leatherback would need to do more than the regular upload of valid IDs and address verification documents. Businesses must provide additional documentation to validate their authenticity to open accounts in 18 currencies.

Leatherback’s unique offering

Leatherback is different from the multiple companies that have sprung up in recent years with the hope of making a killing as the CBN cracks down on international spending, partly because it gives users over 18 accounts in foreign countries. But also because users who hold these accounts are flung into a system in which they are qualified to perform the myriad of transactions that people on the ground in the birthplace of the currencies can.

With the accounts that users get on the Leatherback platform, they can both collect money locally into the account and also collect money internationally into the account. Users can also receive money in alternative ways and exchange it for different currencies within the platform.

Leatherback is giving businesses across the world access to own international bank accounts

Like many fintech apps, transactions on the Leatherback platform begin with funding the Leatherback bank accounts, after which users begin to engage with the bountiful offers.

Leatherback can offer this product by entering into multiple partnerships with multinational and national financial institutions, including respected banks and mobile money companies, which are popular in parts of East Africa, like Uganda.

Read also: Payday vs Chipper Cash: What you need to know before you choose

As the Nigerian naira suffers from the decline against the dollar, irregular exchange rates have set in, leaving fintech companies like Leatherback warring over the already tiny chunk of young Nigerians who mess with their products and then the even tinier chunk within them that can afford to trade in dollars, pounds, or any other foreign currency. Forgoing the fixed charges that other fintech companies place on currency swaps, Leatherback offers users a feature to negotiate rates, especially with swaps involving huge sums.

The Leatherback platform allows users to send invoices to customers and clients worldwide and collect money in many currencies. Users that seek to explore the invoice feature on Leatherback can also get to customise the invoice, including their logo, special notes, catchphrases, etc.

But not every user is interested in converting currencies and collecting payments in other countries. For users looking to make cross-border transfers, Leatherback has introduced SendR, a feature that allows customers to send money in naira and receive it in a different currency. Then there is the Maker Checker. With the Maker Checker, made with businesses in mind, users can invite other users to enter their accounts and initiate transactions. This allows businesses to empower team members to make quick and soft transactions without the immediate authorization of the account owner. The account holders get to put a cap on it, dictating how much the invited users can transact or whether or not certain transactions will not be processed without his approval.

But the Leatherback model of cross-border payment is facing very challenging times. In the past few weeks, big problems have happened at financial institutions like Silicon Valley Bank and Silvergate, making customers even more worried. Startups like Payday and Grey, which also offer foreign bank accounts, have had to scramble to find new partners to keep their products afloat.

While Leatherback was not affected by any of the shutdowns, the product remains a source of contention in the Nigerian tech ecosystem, which desperately needs such products to remain operational. What happens if this happens to a Leatherback partner in the future?

“The banks are in charge of protecting the funds. Their accounts are eligible for what the banks’ normal customers will receive,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Leatherback is giving businesses across the world access to own international bank accounts

While Leatherback still feels like the new kid on the block, its products are already gaining appeal with top tech companies like the investment startup Bamboo and the UK-based payment company Remitise Group, even as the company aims to scale up its product and sign up new businesses and individuals alike.

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