Comparative analysis of foreign exchange rates: Alpian’s competitive advantage over other Swiss providers
In Switzerland, the average FX mark-up—the fees charged by intermediaries over market rates—is estimated at around 1.4%, leading to frustration for many individuals. As Alpian is committed to offering better and more transparent FX rates to Swiss residents and expatriates, this study aims to assess our competitive positioning in the Swiss FX market compared to other providers.
By utilising a systematic approach, we collected and analysed FX rates from Alpian and eight other key players in the market, focusing on the most commonly used currency pairs in Switzerland. The results indicate that Alpian consistently offers the most competitive rates in Switzerland for retail clients during business days on the most used currency pairs: EUR/CHF, USD/CHF, and GBP/CHF.
Overview of Alpian’s offering
Alpian offers competitive FX rates on various currencies through a single app. Included as a default in the banking package is a multi-currency account. This account allows users to hold and exchange four currencies: CHF, USD, EUR, and GBP. A single debit card is linked to the multi-currency account, featuring an automatic conversion function, thus eliminating the need for users to maintain exact balances when they travel.
The focus on CHF, USD, EUR, and GBP is motivated by the fact that these are the primary currencies used by Swiss residents and expatriates.
Alpian's pricing is as follows: During business days, a FX mark-up of 0.20% is applied on top of the market rates (0.20% of the foreign currency transaction volume). This mark-up covers our costs to access the market. On weekends (from Friday at 21:00 until Monday at 08:00), the FX mark-up increases to 0.50%. This increase is justified by the greater volatility of the FX markets over the weekend.
Alpian also offers the option to pay in other currencies, but the rates applied are those offered by our partner, Visa. However, we do not apply any additional spread on top of these rates.
Panel – Selection of providers
To assess our competitiveness, we focused on service providers renowned for their competitiveness in Switzerland's foreign exchange market for individuals. This group included Swiss banks, financial intermediaries specialising in currencies, international banks, and foreign groups with a proven track record in transfers.
Initially, we considered a list of 20 competitors1, but eventually narrowed it down to a select group of 7. These finalists stood out from their peers and are recognised as the most competitive according to various public rankings2.
The final candidates selected for our panel are shown below:
Data collection method
We used real-time quoting services from the apps and online platforms of the providers, including Alpian. Where possible, we cross-checked the results with indicative FX mark-ups provided by these players.
Unfortunately, this information was not always disclosed, despite the providers' claims of promoting transparency. We also used online comparative tools to assess if our results were coherent.
Providers and source for the exchange rate
Revolut: App – standard subscription
Exchange market: ExchangeMarket.ch – change Euro - Euro in CHF - CHF in Euro - EUR CHF
Postfinance3: App – basic banking package
The data collection occurred over a week (Fri 17th of November to Thu 23rd of November). During this period, we simultaneously streamed FX rates from various providers in the panel, including Alpian, multiple times per day.
The times at which the FX rates were retrieved were randomly chosen to capture various market conditions. As FX mark-ups tend to be constant over time, we deem that a minimum of 10 data points was sufficient to estimate them.
While small delays could occur when retrieving the rates from the providers, we randomly shifted the order to ensure fair treatment. Overall, the impact of these delays was negligible, as evidenced by the stability of the results.
Our focus was primarily on the CHF/EUR rate, one of the most commonly used rates in Switzerland, but we also conducted the analysis on two other currency pairs: CHF/USD and CHF/GBP.
The FX rates obtained were saved and formed the basis of this study.
This study focuses solely on the exchange rate and does not take into account additional fees such as transfer fees or correspondent banks fees. It is also worth noting that FX rates were only streamed during weekdays.
The results obtained from the multiple data retrieval instances were remarkably stable and consistent with the FX mark-ups disclosed. Across all recorded data points, Alpian consistently ranked first, indicating its competitive edge in offering favorable FX rates.
Below, we provide an example of one such data retrieval instance, illustrating Alpian's performance in comparison to other providers.
This specific instance exemplifies the overall trend observed throughout our study and the average differences across all data-points collected are shown in the below table.
On average, for a conversion of CHF 10’000 to EUR during weekdays, using Alpian’s services results in a saving of CHF 20 compared to the second most competitive provider.
While we were not able to conduct this survey during the weekend, we estimate that, even with Alpian applying a higher mark-up (0.50%), the service still compares favorably with its peers.
For a comprehensive understanding and further analysis, the full dataset encompassing all data points and comparative results is available upon request.
It is surprising to us that our favorable rates are not referenced in surveys conducted by our competitors. We believe that promoting fairer practices in the financial industry serves the best interests of everyone, most importantly, those of the clients.
The findings of this comprehensive study underscore Alpian's undeniable edge in the Swiss foreign exchange market.
By consistently providing the most favorable rates across popular currency pairs, particularly CHF/EUR, CHF/USD, and CHF/GBP, Alpian stands out as a game-changer for both Swiss residents and expatriates seeking efficient and transparent FX solutions.
This competitive advantage not only reflects Alpian’s commitment to fair pricing but also highlights its role as a pioneering force in promoting equitable financial practices.
Our approach exemplifies not just a business strategy, but a dedication to serving our clients with integrity and innovation, setting a new benchmark in the realm of digital banking and finance.
1 Transferwise, Ibani, exchangemarket.ch, B-sharpe, Revolut, Currencyfair, Change Migros, BNC change, Change Cité, Zürcher Kantonalbank, Postfinance, CA next bank, BCJ, BCGE, UBS, BCN, BCV, Raiffeisen, Paypal, Western union.
3 Although Postfinance's FX rates are not as competitive as the aforementioned specialised players, its rates are competitive compared to traditional Swiss banks, which is why it was included in the panel for comparison purposes.