There’s an Easier Way to Make International Bill Payments

BillPaymentWhether you need to pay household utility bills, medical expenses, insurance premiums or school fees, making payments to a service provider located in another country can be both challenging and expensive. But if you think that your options are limited to using an international money transfer service to make cross-border bill payments, you should keep reading. There are many cost-saving services that can help you quickly and easily pay bills in another country.

Credit Card Payments

If speed is your priority, then using a credit card should be at the top of your list. You will likely be charged a percentage fee ranging from 3 to 5 percent but it’s a convenient and cost-effective way to pay bills under $100. What’s the drawback? Many service providers still don’t accept credit card payments, and if they do, they often request that you make the payment in person. Clearly, this is not an option if you’re 1,000 miles away from home.

Local Bank Accounts

If you’re making payments to the same country month after month, setting up a local bank account may be the perfect solution. Because most banking can be done online, you can easily deposit money into your foreign account and use it to pay bills. One disadvantage is the hassle of opening the account and maintaining a balance, which may be impossible if you are not a resident of the country.

International Money Transfers

If you know your recipient’s banking details, sending an international money transfer can be a fast and affordable way to pay overseas bills. This is also a great option if you need to pay bills in excess of $200 because the exchange rate will be better than what your bank or credit card provider will charge. The largest drawback of this method is that it can be an expensive way to send money overseas for small, recurring payments.

International Payment Apps

Technology has transformed how we send and receive money, and it’s now changing how we pay our bills. New services like Xoom and MyBillAfrica are making it easier for millions of users to make cross-border bill payments in countries that lack a well-developed banking sector. Despite many advantages, using these service providers can be expensive as the exchange rates and fees they charge can vary considerably from region to region. Additionally, they often lack the reach of other payment options. For example, with Xoom you can pay bills in only 10 countries and MyBillAfrica has only partnered with 8 African nations.

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Is There a Better Alternative?

Absolutely! Bill Pay Your Way allows you to pay bills in 18 countries with no transaction fees directly from your secure SolidTrust Pay e-wallet. You’ll get instant access to more than 800 service providers around the globe and your payments are not limited to utility companies. In addition to making payments for electricity, water, gas, cable, satellite, landline, mobile and internet services, you can pay insurance providers, educational institutions, government departments and transportation companies. To make a payment, you only need to provide the billing account number. The balance owing will be automatically provided to you and your payment will be confirmed with the billing company within 48 hours.

When choosing an international bill payment provider, there are two important factors that you do not want to overlook: fees and network size. Hidden charges can quickly take a toll on your financial bottom line, while taking time to register for an account only to discover that the provider possesses a limited payment network can be a disappointing experience.

Bill Pay Your Way solves both problems. We have partnered with over 800 major service providers in 18 countries, and our network of providers and regions is rapidly expanding. Already, we’ve partnered with 159 companies in the Philippines, 114 in India, 41 in Mexico, 36 in Nigeria and 34 in Pakistan, and more are coming. We’ll also save you more money than the competition. You’ll never pay a transaction fee and our competitive exchange rates mean that it’s less expensive to pay a bill using Bill Pay Your Way than it is to send an international money transfer.

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With Bill Pay Your Way, you can effortlessly make international bill payments wherever you are and on any device you use. Not only will you ensure that your expenses are easily taken care of, but you can also help guarantee that your family has access to the vital services they need by making payments directly to their service providers. Sign up for your free SolidTrust Pay account to make your first cross-border bill payment,

If you already have a SolidTrust Pay e-wallet, log in to your STPay account and go to My Money > Pay Your Bills. Click on the Bill Icon at the bottom of the page and your payment will be processed within 48 hours. See why thousands of members love Bill Pay Your Way, try it for free today!

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How To Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

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It may surprise you to learn that some 60 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions. The practice of committing to, and for many of us breaking, our January 1st resolutions has a rich history dating back over 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. They were the first culture to hold recorded celebrations in honour of the New Year, although, for the Babylonians, the New Year began in mid-March when the crops were planted and not in January. During the 12-day festivities, the Babylonians made promises to their pantheon of deities to pay debts and return borrowed objects. This was believed to keep them in good standing with the gods. Long considered to be a forerunner to our current custom of making New Year’s resolutions, no matter which country you call home, the practice of resolving to do and be better during the forthcoming year is universal.

Equally universal is our tendency to succumb to temptation and quickly slip back into our old habits. Numerous studies have shown that less than 25 percent of us will actually stay committed to our resolutions after just 30 days. This means that three out of four of us will have abandoned our quest for personal betterment before the first day of February. And for those who successfully get past this hurdle, less than 8 percent will actually fulfill their resolution before the next year rolls around. Surely we can do better?

Change How You Approach Your Resolutions

If you’re like most people, your resolutions centre on improving your health and finances. Roughly 55 percent of our New Year’s resolutions are related to health and fitness, with just under 20 percent tackling financial goals. Year after year, the top three New Year’s resolutions are eating healthier, getting more exercise and saving money. Losing weight, spending more time with family and friends and learning a new skill or hobby round out the top six personal improvements.

So what should you do differently to make 2020 your best year yet? For starters, forget about making resolutions and instead create goals. Resolutions are overly broad and lack definition, whereas goals are much more actionable. Let’s say one of your resolutions is to lose weight. Congratulations, you’ve made a commitment to improving your wellbeing. But where do you start? Losing weight requires planning and summons a host of questions that need to be answered. For example, how will you increase your physical activity? What strategy will you use to control food cravings? How will you stay motivated through the year ahead?

Setting SMART Goals

The act of creating goals necessitates that you clarify your intention, focus your efforts and use your time and resources productively to achieve what you want. To supercharge your goal setting, you should create SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. A SMART goal incorporates these five essential criteria to increase your chances of success.

SMART goals are:

Specific: Well defined and clear. Make use of real numbers and deadlines.

Measurable: You can easily measure your progress towards the completion of your goal.

Achievable: The goal is attainable. You want to select a goal that is challenging but also possible.

Realistic: Your goal should be realistic. Be honest with yourself, you know what you are capable of.

Timely: Your goal should have a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date.

Using the weight loss example above, a SMART goal would be: “I want to lose 15 pounds in the next 4 months. I will measure my weight on a scale to track my progress. I will exercise 6 days a week for no less than 30 minutes and follow the Mediterranean Diet, limiting my calories to 1,400 per day. Once I reach my goal, I will re-evaluate and consider setting a new target for continued weight loss.”

To make this goal even more actionable, you could define the type of physical activity you will engage in and what you will do should an unforeseen circumstance arise, for example, you become ill or the restaurant you’re at lacks a healthy, low-calorie alternative. Guided by this action plan, it becomes much easier to follow through and achieve your desired goal. And remember, when it comes to goal setting, less is more. For optimum results, limit your focus to two or three goals. Your chances of success will skyrocket as you will not become overwhelmed with making too many changes at once.

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Is There An Easier Alternative?

If personal goal setting elicits feelings of boredom and disinterest, there’s another tool that personal change experts make use of: the power of small changes. The idea of small changes asks that you swap your ambitious New Year’s resolutions for small achievable improvements. With time, these bite-sized intentions can snowball into enduring behaviour change.

Let’s say your resolution is to eat healthier in 2020. Instead of overhauling your entire kitchen pantry and embracing the latest diet, you can create a list of healthy foods that you enjoy eating and post it in areas that you frequently look at. The fridge and around your computer screen would be ideal spots. Studies have shown that visual reminders can encourage us to make small changes to our daily routines, and over time, these changes can have profound effects on our health and well-being.

If you want to exercise more, leave your workout clothes and running shoes in a visible area. If getting more sleep is a priority, do some light reading, listen to a meditation, or write in a journal before you go to bed. This will help you wind down before bedtime and ensure that you fall asleep quicker. If you want to learn a new skill, set aside 5 minutes every day for the new task. As your new habit grows, gradually increase your scheduled time. This ensures that even the most time-crunched among us can still find the time to improve ourselves.

It is our hope that this post will help make 2020 your best year yet. May the New Year bring you and your loved ones happiness, peace and prosperity. From everyone at SolidTrust Pay, we would like to wish you a joyous year filled with much success!

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4 Cryptocurrency Trends For 2020

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Digital currencies have become increasingly popular in recent years. CBC News reports that cryptocurrency is big business, “despite only coming into the public consciousness a decade ago with the invention of Bitcoin.” These alternative currencies have slowly entered the mainstream, with Bitcoin invariably leading the way. Introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym used by the person or persons who developed the world’s first cryptocurrency,  to this day, Bitcoin remains the most prominent digital currency. As new cryptocurrencies continue to become more widely used, you can expect Bitcoin to remain the top choice among crypto enthusiasts across the globe. That being said, Bitcoin’s boom is just one of the cryptocurrency trends to watch out for in 2020. Below is our complete list:

1. Bitcoin is predicted to boom

Bitcoin has witnessed record price fluctuations in recent years. It peaked at $20,089 (C$26,710) in December 2017, then plummeted to $3,200 (C$4,255) a year later. In 2019, Bitcoin’s price stabilized, staying near $7,000–$8,000 (C$9,307–C$10,637) for much of the year. However, News BTC notes that the price of Bitcoin is predicted to increase in 2020, ultimately predicted to breach the $15,000 (C$19,944) mark by May. This uptick will be due to Bitcoin’s scheduled halving in May. Analysts are divided as to the long-term effects of this halving. Bitmain co-founder Jihan Wu insists no Bitcoin bull run will follow. But several price modelling results show that Bitcoin’s price will, indeed, go up next year.

2. Altcoins will be more “alt-tractive”

ADN Coins points out that the number of altcoins continues to rise and their functions are starting to go mainstream. That trend will continue in 2020, as “more altcoins will join the fray and take their place in the crypto market.” But these new altcoins will “need to provide another utility that other top altcoins are not hinged on” for them to be truly competitive and disruptive. The top altcoins, at the moment, are those used in payments (e.g., Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash), DApps (e.g., Ethereum, Tron, and EOS), and crowdfunding (e.g., Binance Coin, which is the most popular in this case).

3. Governments will integrate cryptos

Governments around the world have cautiously started to move towards digital currencies. They will still proceed with caution in 2020 but will be more open to cryptocurrencies. As per the norm, the Canadian government has been progressive to this end. The Bank of Canada is currently leading a working group of global partners to figure out how to best use, integrate, and if necessary, regulate cryptocurrencies.

Even China, which in 2017 banned digital currency in the Mainland, seems to be opening up to Bitcoin, and its underlying blockchain technology. Just this month, the Bank of China (one of the four biggest state-owned commercial banks in the country), posted an in-depth — and at times humorous — infographic about cryptocurrencies. The infographic details Bitcoin’s history and clarifies some of the misconceptions surrounding it (notably, that it can make people wealthy overnight). It has also been rumoured that the Chinese government is developing a Bitcoin supplement to the Chinese Yuan. Such developments are clear proof that governments will be more accepting of cryptos moving forward.

4. Gold-backed currencies will continue to be stable

Stablecoins, specifically gold-backed currencies, are likely to have a strong year, too.  Our post, ‘What You Need To Know About Gold-Backed Cryptocurrencies’ discussed how a stablecoin’s value is tethered to a tangible asset class. In the case of gold-backed currencies that asset is gold, which investors have long regarded as a safe haven. 90% of demand for the yellow metal is due to its intrinsic value. This is why gold provides value even as other assets struggle, especially in times of economic uncertainty. Gold-backed currencies will lean on the precious metal more next year as the global economic forecast for 2020 is gloomy. This, in turn, will help give them year-long stability.

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Disclaimer

As with any asset, investing in cryptocurrencies involves the risk of substantial loss, including the loss of your entire investment. SolidTrust Pay is not an investment advisor or fiduciary and this content is provided for informational purposes only. Before purchasing cryptocurrency, please evaluate your financial situation and personal risk tolerance.


The Changing Payment Method Landscape

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Consumers have seen an explosion of online payment methods. Cash may be king offline where it continues to account for over 40% of all commercial transactions, but online, credit cards, debit cards, e-cheques and newer forms of electronic payments, such as mobile e-wallets and cryptocurrencies dominate. In 2018, payment processor TSYS interviewed 1,222 consumers and asked them which payment method they preferred. Fifty-four percent chose debit cards, while 26 percent selected credit cards. Less than 15 percent of respondents specified a preference for using cash. When these numbers were compared to the same survey results from 2017, the respondents’ preference for debit cards rose by 10 percent while their preference for credit cards decreased by 7 percent. Citing high-interest rates and climbing annual fees as the reason for lower credit card usage statistics, it’s clear that more and more consumers are looking for less expensive ways to pay for goods and services online.

Digital Wallets

Mobile payment methods, such as ApplePay, GooglePay and Venmo, are quickly growing in popularity among those under the age of 24, with 27 percent of survey respondents having loaded a debit or credit card into a mobile wallet or app to make a purchase. Despite the adoption of digital wallets by younger demographics, mobile payment use remains a small factor in the overall payments landscape. Less than 3 percent of those aged 65 and older have confirmed that they had used a mobile wallet. However, adoption rates may be hampered by fears over security and concerns that merchants wouldn’t accept payments made using a digital wallet. A study commissioned by JP Morgan Chase revealed that only 36 percent of merchants currently accept digital wallet payments, a figure that drops to 25 percent for small businesses.

Rising Security Concerns

The increased prevalence of high profile data breaches affecting millions of user accounts is affecting how consumers make online payments. The American Express Digital Payments Survey revealed that 37 percent of consumers have abandoned an online purchase as a result of security concerns. Despite these concerns, the frequency of online shopping continues to grow year over year, with nearly 50 percent of respondents declaring that they’ve increased the frequency of their online purchases over the past 12 months. Globally, 35 percent of online shoppers make an online purchase at least weekly. The survey also revealed that plastic is the preferred online shopping method, with Visa Debit Cards, Debit Mastercards and merchant issued credit cards accounting for nearly 82 percent of online payments.

Person to Person Payments

Since 2014, mobile person to person (P2P) payments have become an increasingly important battleground for financial institutions, tech giants and fintech startups. Bank of America’s 2018 Trends in Consumer Mobility Report revealed that younger consumers have rapidly embraced P2P payments. While only 44 percent of survey respondents said they used P2P payments, 51 percent of millennials report using the service at least once a month. The adoption of person to person mobile payments is primarily due to the service’s convenience and time-saving ability, with near real-time payment processing enabling recipients to receive funds often in less than one minute.

Cryptocurrency

The global cryptocurrency market is projected to reach USD 1.4 billion by 2024, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 6.18%. Entrepreneurs, start-ups and large as well as small and medium-sized enterprises are looking to digital currencies, like Bitcoin, Tether and Ethereum, to foster financial inclusion for millions of the world’s underbanked citizens. With a combined market capitalization value exceeding $200 billion, cryptocurrencies are going mainstream with hundreds of major companies accepting the digital currency as a payment method. You can now book a transcontinental flight, pay university tuition and purchase an electric vehicle all with bitcoin. With over 1,600 cryptocurrencies available for consumers to buy and sell, it should come as no surprise that global adoption rates are steadily climbing, with many regions boasting usage rates above 20%.

Paying Bills Online

Fiserv, an online bill payment provider, revealed that more than 90 percent of households used more than one payment method for paying bills. Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to make payments to service providers. With more than 33 percent of those surveyed reporting having paid a bill on their smartphone, this represented a 22 percent increase from the previous year’s survey results. Despite this shift, the most popular payment methods for bills remained the biller’s website followed by financial institution sites.

The SolidTrust Pay Advantage

As a leading provider of payment processing solutions, we are committed to providing our members with innovative services. That’s why you can now buy and sell 10 Cryptocurrencies with your SolidTrust Pay e-wallet. We’ve also made it easier to send payment requests to friends, family members and business associates. You can conveniently receive payments with our Click2Pay Invoice service and the best part is your recipient doesn’t need a SolidTrust Pay account to pay you.

Finally, we’ve made it easier for our members to take care of their loved ones by providing access to over 800 billing companies in 18 countries. With Bill Pay Your Way, you can make international bill payments from your SolidTrust Pay e-wallet and ensure that your family is never without the services they depend on.  Your SolidTrust Pay account is so much more than a convenient e-wallet; it’s a gateway to a thriving global community dedicated to service!

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