Here’s how HSBC’s international payments app Zing compares to Wise and Revolut

HSBC has launched a new product called Zing focused on international transfers to better compete with fintech companies like Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Revolut.

Bloomberg wrote that the app was on its way to the App Store and Play Store a couple of days ago. It is now officially out, so let’s have a look at what HSBC offers and if it’s indeed a competitive service. Zing is completely separate from HSBC’s existing banking products. You don’t need an HSBC bank account to use Zing.

Zing also has a completely different approach to foreign exchange as it is relatively transparent when it comes to fees. You can see the exchange rate and the conversion fees at any time in the app or on Zing’s website.

As Wise CEO Kristo Käärmann pointed out on X, it is a departure from HSBC’s regular banking products as the company has the bad habit of including hidden FX markups when converting money from one currency to another. “Today HSBC charges their own customers 3.7% in hidden FX markups for ‘free’ Euro transfers,” Käärmann wrote.

Zing customers can currently hold money in their account in 10 different currencies — GBP, EUR, SGD, USD, CAD, JPY, NZD, HKD, AUD and AED. However, Zing is currently limited to customers living in the U.K.

When they open an account, they can top up their GBP wallet with open banking, a bank transfer or a debit card payment. EUR wallets also come with bank details, which means that Zing customers can receive SEPA payments to their EUR wallet directly. This will be useful for British people working in Europe temporarily or permanently.

On this front, Wise’s offering is much better as customers can get local bank details to receive money from other people (or yourself) from a dozen countries.

This has also been a key advantage against Revolut as the company only offers bank information in your local country. “As an existing customer, if your new residency country has a Revolut branch, you’ll need to close your account and reopen it again as a new one if you wish to hold a local IBAN of that country,” Revolut says in its support documents.

When it comes to sending money, Zing supports dozens of currencies — more currencies than the 10 I listed above. You enter the bank information of your recipient and you can then send them money in their local currency.

Finally, when it comes to exchange rate, Zing is indeed cheaper than HSBC. When you convert GBP to EUR, Zing charges 0.6% in exchange fees. Wise charges around 0.45% for the same corridor.

Revolut is a bit different as your fees may vary depending on your subscription plan. The company charges 1% in fees after an exchange limit of £1,000 per month for free accounts. Plus accounts can exchange up to £3,000 per month without exchange fees. They get charged 0.5% after that.

Premium, Metal and Ultra customers don’t pay exchange fees, but they pay £7.99 to £45 per month in subscription fees. It’s also worth noting that Revolut charges a 1% markup fee on foreign exchange during weekends — regardless of your plan.

Zing charges different fees for other currencies. For instance, the exchange fee for USD to GBP is 0.6% too, but the company charges 0.75% for USD to EUR transfers.

What I like about Zing’s fee is that you mostly have to focus on that exchange fee. Pretty much everything else is included otherwise. Incoming bank payments are free and outgoing bank transfers don’t cost anything other than the conversion fee.

For instance, if you’re using Wise to convert USD to EUR, you will only pay 0.552% in conversion fees, but there are additional fees for incoming ACH or wire transfers in USD.

Zing customers also get a Visa debit card that they can use with any currency wallet. As long as you have money in that wallet, there is no fee for card payments. However, if Zing has to convert money from another wallet because your balance in the local wallet is insufficient, the company will add a 1% currency conversion fee on top of Visa’s exchange rate. In that scenario, Zing is pretty expensive.

Overall, Zing is a compelling alternative to Wise. In some cases, it’s going to be a bit more expensive than Wise. In other cases, that might be the opposite. Of course, it will be important to see if HSBC plans to keep these low exchange fees over the long run or if those are just introductory rates.

For now, Zing’s coverage is pretty limited as only people living in the U.K. can use it. But migrants and frequent travelers will appreciate that there’s a new contender in the space.