A P2P platform simply brings together people with complementary currency exchange requirements. So if User A wants to exchange dollars for euros and User B is looking to exchange euros for dollars, they can do so over a P2P currency exchange. By harnessing the power of the crowd, users are thus able to obtain much better exchange rates than they would get through traditional currency exchange mechanisms.
CurrencyFair Ltd, for instance, claims that it can save up to 90% on international currency transfer fees. While £2,000 transferred through a typical bank could cost as much as £100 (£40 in international transfer fees and £60 in exchange rate margin), the same amount sent through CurrencyFair would only cost about £9 (a fixed £3 transfer fee plus £6 exchange rate margin). CurrencyFair charges an average of 0.35% of the amount exchanged as its margin, while TransferWise Ltd charges 0.5%.
The mechanism for P2P currency exchange is straightforward. A client opens an account with a P2P exchange and deposits money into the account. He or she then converts the money into the desired currency by “matching” with other clients on the P2P exchange. The foreign currency is then transferred to an overseas bank account nominated by the client.
Some P2P companies are controlled by FCA rules for example Midpoint and Transferwise whilst other are covered by EU rules such as Currency Fair, so you might want to check who regulates the P2P that you choose.
It can take up to 48 hours to match a deal which could be an issue in some cases.
The cost is definitely cheaper but in addition on large deals you may be able to negotiate further savings.