smartLOCK founder: TransferWise makes cross-border ecommerce a thousand times easier

TransferWise content team
02.03.18
4 minute read

When businesses sell online, it can be difficult to accept payment from customers in different currencies. Inflated exchange rates and high receiving fees mean some can only afford to sell locally. Importing products from overseas can be equally as expensive.

That's why the UK company smartLOCK, the exclusive European distributor of American-made smart locks, chose to use the TransferWise multi-currency account to buy product from the US and sell in Euros with platforms like Shopify.

“I now keep our sales in Euros in the borderless account and then use that to pay the Americans straight in dollars. I actually shut down the bank account I was using right away.” – Stuart Duncan, founder of smartLOCK

Unlocking opportunities at home

A few years ago, rental property owner Stuart Duncan added a smart house to his portfolio of homes in the UK. Stuart is passionate about tech, and wanted to find a smarter way to get keys to renters. An office made no sense – he sought a keyless solution, but couldn’t find one locally.

Research brought him to LockState, an American company that creates WiFi-enabled locks that can be controlled remotely. He purchased one to test, and immediately saw an opportunity to import them from Denver, Colorado.

“They didn't have anyone selling their locks in the UK and I figured there must be others who had similar issues that I had,” Stuart told us when we asked how he got started. He created smartlock.co.uk and used Shopify as the platform to power its sales. It was easy and cheap to sell in Pounds, and move his sales from Shopify to his local UK bank account.

AirBnB and Brexit opened the doors to Europe

When LockState integrated with AirBnB, demand from outside the UK started to grow fast. Then when the strength of the Pound dropped after Brexit, Stuart decided to take advantage of the European interest.

He opened up a Euro account with his UK bank so he could accept payments in Euros, but the extra costs of selling in Europe quickly added up. “My bank charged about £5 per month for the privilege of having a Euro account,” Stuart said sarcastically.

On top of that, he faced high fees to import his products from America. “Before TransferWise, I used my bank to buy products in dollars, which was always frustrating because the exchange rate was not great,” he said. “Now I save at least £25 on each payment.”

His bank also could only do payments “the old fashioned way – over the phone.” He wouldn’t even discuss using PayPal because of how “ludicrous” the fees are.

A better way to operate internationally

Stuart quickly found that the TransferWise multi-currency account was the better, cheaper account to use to buy product overseas and accept multiple currencies on his website. He also can instantly convert between up to 29 currencies for future payments using the real exchange rate – all within his account.

“The main reason I use TransferWise is ease of use, and the fact that it saves me money and makes cross-border commerce a thousand times easier than it used to be.”

“I now keep our sales in Euros in the borderless account and then use that to pay the Americans straight in dollars," Stuart explained. "I actually shut down the bank account I was using right away.”

TransferWise can help your website become multi-currency

It’s easy to set up a multi-currency site with TransferWise because it’s built to work with services ecommerce businesses already use.

Stuart uses his TransferWise European IBAN number with a Euro-denominated Stripe account. With the new Shopify multi-currency plugin, all Euro sales can now go directly into TransferWise using the real exchange rate. TransferWise also comes with UK, US, and Australian bank account details.

“I’ve been looking to have a multi-currency ecommerce site for quite some time now, and it’s never been possible,” Stuart said. He’s also a proponent for other Shopify users to look into TransferWise. In addition to the website, smartLOCK sells via re-sellers, agents, and Fulfillment by Amazon.

Onward expansion

As Lockstate's exclusive European distributor, smartLOCK’s market share is projected to become over 50% European. Stuart thinks it’s possible he’ll never go near a traditional bank again for cross-border transactions.

“TransferWise easily beats the banks on both price and speed. There's just no contest,” Stuart exclaimed. “Even if the exchange rate wasn’t so good, I’d still use TransferWise because everything is online, making it so easy.”

In our opinion, with savings that can be over £100 per transaction, he’s really locked down how to do business overseas.

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