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Taming the complex world of international payments

By: David Prendeville – Head of UK FX Services

When it comes to sport, the UK has its fair share of passionate fans. From football to cricket,gymnastics to swimming, many people enjoy attending games or watching tournaments. What they often forget though is that behind every sporting club, there is a business – often one with a huge international reach – and that business often faces many of the same challenges that other companies in the UK do as well.

The requirements of a once domestic sporting business have widened, calling for more sophisticated financial management to help meet rising customer ticket sales, to managing the payments for both the team’s players and staff when travelling overseas and delivering seamless and efficient digital transactions for their commercial partners and worldwide organisations.

Take America’s National Football League (NFL), for example. Not perhaps one of the first sports you’d think of in the UK but with NFL official figures reporting a UK fan base of over 13 million, including close to four million avid fans, UK customer love for the sport has begun to take a hold of many.

A new cross-border dynamic

The Jacksonville Jaguars, a Florida-based NFL team are the only team in the US league to have a dual-residency in the UK, playing one game a season in London’s Wembley Stadium. Just recently, NFL UK Managing Director Alistair Kirkwood stated that the NFL is bring an academy to London with the aim of using American football to provide students with educational, professional sporting opportunities and the chance to play at NCAA college football in the United States.

This new cross-border dynamic for what was once a business focused in one region brings with it many challenges as well as opportunities. Indeed, any business that merchandises across multiple geographies will recognise the challenge; likewise those who have customers and employees indifferent time zones and regions.

How to manage payments and transactions from customers in multiple currencies. How to ensure that currency fluctuations don’t negatively impact your bottom line or lead to increased costs for customers. How to manage and track payments in an efficient way that doesn’t impact on wider resources. These are challenges that many businesses that transact globally face.

Making what can be a complex process simpler and more efficient is crucial so that businesses can focus on growth. And it’s that what’s at the heart of what organisations that are trading internationally. They want to grow, whether that’s economic growth, increased staff, new customers or just simply making their business strong and stable for the future.

For the Jaguars, once the team had invested in the UK sporting market, it needed support to help capitalise on the many opportunities. At Western Union Business Solutions, we were able to work with the Jaguars to offer them the insight and resources through bespoke tools and expert guidance that would help them navigate currency and payments challenges.

A long-standing history of working within the UK market has allowed Western Union Business Solutions to deliver tailored market insight during a time of UK political uncertainty, driving the efficiencies of the business behind the Jaguars across all platforms. As Jaguars Chief Financial Officer Kelly Flanagan, explains the partnership has offered “seamless, efficient and bespoke service to our international currency solutions”.

Focusing on what matters most – the game

Capitalising on the rising demands from the customer, the business behind the Jaguars are now able to offer their fans jam-packed London tourist packages when visiting their favourite team which,alongside your ticket to London’s iconic Wembley stadium also include hotel accommodation at The Mayfair, airfare and a River Thames dinner cruise.

But fundamentally establishing such a partnership has meant that the Jaguars have been able to focus on what matters most – the game – so much so that following the success of the first four games in the UK, the team’s owner Shahid Khan, announced an extended commitment to London until 2020.Something which will undoubtedly lead to the continual increase of their fanatical UK fan base.