PayPal launched its Xoom money transfer service in the UK and 31 other European markets last month. Is it a good deal for people sending money abroad? The answer, when comparing Xoom or any other transfer service, is “it depends.” Nearly $700 billion of remittances are sent across borders each year, changing funds from one currency into another. Banks and money transfer companies have typically taken a big bite out of those transfers, charging fees that range range from 5% to even more than 25% for some foreign-exchange pairs. Transactions can also take days to process. Fintech startups are bringing competition to the sector. These days, for example, a savvy customer can often make speedy bank-to-bank transfers from British pounds into other currencies around the world for less than 1%. Here are the percentage fees charged for transferring pounds into a range of other currencies, according to FXC Intelligence, a specialist data provider: Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief email Enter your email Sign me up Stay updated about Quartz products and events. Thanks for supporting our journalism! You’ve hit your monthly article limit. Become a member to help build the future of Quartz. Get unlimited access to Quartz on all devices. Unlock member-exclusive coverage, CEO interviews, member-only events, conference calls with our editors, and more. Start free trial

The UK has become something of a laboratory for newfangled digital banks, which are attracting thousands of new customers each day. But there are some big questions: Will bigger legacy banks eventually learn the fintech firms’ tricks? And will the so-called neobanks ever become profitable?

Talking about profit when these companies are growing so quickly may seem gauche to some investors, but there’s a lot of venture capital money riding on the answers to these questions. London-based Monzo raised about $145 million last month, while Revolut is looking to take in $500 million or more from investors this year. Berlin-based N26, which also operates in the UK, has raised $470 million so far this year.

London’s business circles were atwitter after an N26 executive told the Financial Times (paywall) that profitability isn’t a “core metric.” Young fintech firms are bleeding cash now as they spend on marketing and licenses for new markets, but some could potentially be profitable on a per-user basis if they weren’t spending so much on customer acquisition. Instead, they’re aiming to become big, global challenger banks.

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