Peter Malmström got the idea for his business while working as a foreign-exchange broker in the City. ‘I was dealing with high-net-worth individuals who asked me to provide them with foreign exchange for speculative purposes at a cheaper rate than the banks.’ he says. He founded Exchange Direct in 1996 to undercut the mark-up charged by banks. If a corporate client such as Arsenal FC needs to settle a foreign invoice or has received payment in a foreign currency, for example, Exchange Direct says it will find the best market price for the currency and pass on the savings to the customer. It claims to be signing up 80-120 new customers each month. Sales grew 120% a year from £489,000 in 1997 to £5.2m in 2000, when it had 350 staff. With offices already in Germany, Spain and the Ukraine, the company plans to open others in America and Australia.
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