GoCardless vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits

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GoCardless vs Airwallex: compare on fees, features and benefits
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What is GoCardless?

GoCardless is a UK-based fintech company that enables businesses to collect recurring payments via Direct Debit. The organisation was founded in 2011 by Hiroki Takeuchi, Matt Robinson, and Tom Blomfield1. The trio recognised an opportunity to simplify recurring payment collection for businesses using the UK’s Direct Debit scheme. 

After receiving early backing from investors like Y Combinator and Accel Partners, GoCardless expanded across Europe from 2014 onwards and launched in the United States in 2018, followed by Australia and New Zealand in 20202

More recently, GoCardless has doubled down3 on open banking and introduced a new feature called Verified Mandates4, which enables merchants to combine account verification with payment consent for reduced fraud and failure rates. 

Today, GoCardless continues growing its platform to help businesses collect payments across multiple bank schemes and methods globally. While it remains anchored in direct debit, the company aims to become a comprehensive network powering account-to-account payments worldwide.

Key elements include5:

Subscription payments

Automate recurring invoice collections for subscriptions or instalment plans. 

Instant Bank Pay

Accept one-off account-to-account payments as an alternative to cards.

Global coverage

Collect payments from over 30 countries using mandates and local bank schemes6

Success+

Retry failed payments at optimised times to reduce churn.

Protect+

Access real-time fraud signals to detect suspicious payers.

Bank account verification

Validate payer details before setting up mandates.

Payouts

Settled funds are transferred to businesses via a single nominated account per merchant.

What is Airwallex?

Established in 2015, Airwallex streamlines complex international treasury management for global growth-stage businesses across multiple geographies. It offers end-to-end financial products and payment services to help businesses of all sizes manage their finances across borders. 

In other words, Airwallex provides comprehensive payment and financial services beyond the collection of funds.

Key highlights include:

Multi-currency accounts (known as global accounts)

Open accounts in various currencies and countries with ease. Collect, hold, and send money in 23 currencies, such as GBP, USD, EUR, AUD, CAD, CNY, and more, using distinct local bank details for each currency.

Online payments 

Accept payments from customers globally through a range of user-friendly options. Airwallex supports over 180 countries and 180+ currencies and can be effortlessly integrated into your current online store or marketplace. This allows you to accept credit cards, debit cards, and various alternative payment methods, ensuring that your international customers can pay using their favoured option while you receive the funds in your preferred settlement currencies.

International transfers & FX conversions

Enjoy fast, fee-free cross-border payments using 110+ local payment methods, bypassing SWIFT. Transfer 11 major currencies (USD, HKD, CNY, AUD, EUR, GBP, CAD, SGD, CHF, NZD, JPY) at the interbank rate + 0.5%, and all other currencies at the interbank rate + 1.0%. Send money to 150+ countries, with same-day payouts available for 85 countries and instant payouts for 65 countries.

Borderless cards

Provide employees with physical and virtual Visa cards, and set customisable controls based on specific parameters to manage company expense policies in detail. Airwallex borderless cards allow for direct spending in 10 currencies without incurring conversion fees.

Bills and accounts payable

Streamline accounts payable processes with Airwallex, enabling finance teams to manage domestic and international supplier payments from a single platform. Employees can upload or email invoices, extract relevant information, request approvals, and pay vendors both locally and globally within Airwallex. Automate batch payments of up to 1,000 transactions across multiple currencies and countries.

Integrations

Integrate Airwallex's real-time transaction data with popular ecosystem apps, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Xero, NetSuite, and QuickBooks, to optimise payment workflows and reduce manual data entry and reconciliation efforts.

Compare GoCardless with Airwallex

Unlike GoCardless, which seems to focus primarily on domestic account to account payments (like Direct Debit) to collect funds into an account, Airwallex is purpose-built to simplify running domestic and international financial operations and offers comprehensive payment and financial services beyond collection capabilities (which are also extensive). 

Airwallex’s platform combines capabilities normally offered by multiple providers into a unified experience – from banking infrastructure to online acceptance, FX management, payouts, and spend management.

GoCardless features and fees explained

GoCardless uses a tiered subscription model with incremental features included at each level8:

Standard (£0/month) 

  • Recurring payments and mandates

  • Transaction fees start at 1% + £/€ 0.20 (capped at £/€4)

Plus (£50/month)

  • Everything in Standard 

  • Lower transaction fees at 0.5% + £/€ 0.20 

  • Phone support

  • Billing tool

  • Salesforce integration

Pro (£200/month)  

  • Everything in Plus

  • Dedicated account manager

  • Custom pricing available

  • Bespoke SLAs

For collecting international payments outside the UK and Eurozone, a 2% + £/€ 0.20 fee applies on top of subscription costs. This makes global collections much more expensive relative to domestic billing.

GoCardless also supports one-off account-to-account payments via its Instant Bank Pay product. However, separate fees apply here at 0.95% + £/€0.20 per transaction (or 0.45% + £/€0.20 for Plus and Pro plans). 

For merchants requiring fraud protection, the GoCardless Protect+ add-on provides real-time signals to block suspicious activity. But, again, additional fees apply at 0.05% per transaction or a minimum monthly charge.

So while GoCardless markets simple and transparent pricing, costs can quickly add up for businesses processing high payment volumes or requiring advanced functionality.

Airwallex features and fees explained

In contrast to GoCardless' multi-tiered subscription approach, Airwallex offers a simple and transparent pay-as-you-go pricing model across its product suite. 

Multi-currency accounts (known as global accounts)

Seamlessly hold and transact balances in 23 major currencies including GBP, USD, EUR, AUD, CAD, CNY and more. Each currency account is assigned unique account details for local and international payments.  

Online payments

Accept payments from 180+ countries in 180+ currencies. Easily link Airwallex with your online store or marketplace to accept credit cards, debit cards and alternative payments from global customers in your chosen settlement currencies. Use no-code payment links, eCommerce integrations or customisable checkouts via API.

International transfers & FX conversions

Make fast, no-fee cross-border payments over 110+ local payment methods and bypass SWIFT. Send 11 major currencies (USD, HKD, CNY, AUD, EUR, GBP, CAD, SGD, CHF, NZD, JPY) at the interbank rate + 0.5%, and all other currencies at the interbank rate + 1.0%. Customers can send money to 150+ countries, 85 of which are same-day payouts, and 65 of which are instant payouts.

Borderless cards

Issue physical and virtual Visa cards to employees and set customisable parameter-based controls around detailed aspects of company expense policies. Airwallex borderless cards can be spent directly in 10 currencies without conversion fees. 

Expenses 

Airwallex provides end-to-end tools for teams to track and control spend globally whether on cards or reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses. Teams can capture receipts, submit expenses, and put through multi-layer approval flows to ensure company funds are spent appropriately. All data is seamlessly synced with accounting platforms like Xero, Quickbooks and NetSuite.

Integrations

Sync Airwallex real-time transactional data into ecosystem apps like Shopify, WooCommerce, Xero, NetSuite and QuickBooks and more to streamline payment workflows and eliminate duplicate data entry and reconciliation work.

Bills and accounts payable

Airwallex centralises accounts payable workflows so finance teams can consolidate domestic and global supplier payments. Staff can upload or email invoices, extract all relevant data, send for approval, and pay domestic and international vendors within the Airwallex platform. Batch payments of up to 1,000 can be automated across currencies and countries through Airwallex.

GoCardless vs Airwallex additional features compared

While GoCardless and Airwallex do offer some overlapping functionality around collecting business payments, key differences emerge when evaluating customers’ ability to manage financial operations and spend funds.

Payment methods

GoCardless specialises in bank-to-bank payments via Direct Debits and open banking. It doesn’t support accepting card payments and has limited popular payment methods outside of the UK. Airwallex enables businesses to accept 160+ locally-relevant payment methods beyond cards, including Direct Debit.

Global coverage

GoCardless' network spans 30+ countries primarily for payment collection. Multi-currency settlements into a single account are possible but for a fee8. With Airwallex, businesses can collect, hold, and payout in 23 currencies across 130+ countries at low FX rates and zero fees via local payment rails.

Multi-currency wallets  

GoCardless doesn’t provide digital wallets to manage funds in foreign currencies. Payments collected globally are converted back to a merchant's home currency before settlement.

Airwallex offers multi-currency accounts, which allow businesses to hold and transact in 23 currencies using virtual account numbers, thereby avoiding unnecessary FX conversions.

To enjoy the best of both worlds, it’s possible to collect with GoCardless and pay out to an Airwallex global account to make use of the extensive account, expense management and international transfers functionality.

Spend management

GoCardless doesn’t offer expense management tools like corporate cards, category controls, approvals, or receipt capture. Airwallex provides virtual and physical multi-currency Visa cards with adjustable spending limits, automated reconciliation, and real-time transaction monitoring.

Payouts

GoCardless supports domestic payouts in USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, and NZD. However, funds collected internationally are converted before reaching a merchant’s bank.  

With Airwallex, businesses can payout partners, suppliers, and staff globally in 130+ countries at the real FX rate.

Fraud prevention

Unlike Airwallex, GoCardless uses open banking through its Verified Mandates product to power its fraud prevention which allows businesses to prompt the customers to verify their bank details while setting up direct debits. Airwallex offers real-time fraud protection via the RIsk Dashboard within the app. The fraud protection engine conducts real-time scans on every card payment and is optimised for performance by machine learning.

Final thoughts

GoCardless delivers a compelling recurring payment solution for businesses serving primarily domestic markets and whose customers prefer paying directly from bank accounts. 

The lack of broader spending and cash management features means finance teams may still need to overcome immense operational challenges and costs when managing payments globally. That’s where Airwallex shines. 

By bundling local payment acceptance worldwide with FX, multi-currency digital accounts, cards, expense management, and payouts into a unified platform, Airwallex empowers businesses to scale globally without complexity.

Customers can collect payments in 160 countries and hold 23 currencies in digital wallets while benefiting from low FX fees, competitive transaction pricing, and powerful workflow automation.

So, while Airwallex continues partnering with GoCardless to offer Direct Debit as a payment method, its end-to-end global financial suite ultimately delivers superior value for companies pursuing aggressive international expansion.

Sources: 

For more information on Airwallex, visit Airwallex Business Account and Airwallex pricing.

  1. https://sifted.eu/articles/gocardless-the-inside-story

  2.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GoCardless

  3. https://gocardless.com/blog/open-banking-payments-release/

  4.  https://gocardless.com/blog/gocardless-launches-open-banking-powered-fraud-prevention-tool

  5.  https://gocardless.com/pricing/ (products)

  6.  https://gocardless.com/international-payments/

  7.  https://wise.com/gb/currency-converter/

  8.  https://gocardless.com/pricing/

Disclaimer: We wrote this article in Q2 2024. The information was based on our own online research and we needed help to manually test each tool or provider. The information is provided for educational purposes only and a reader should consider the specific requirements of their business when evaluating providers. This research is reviewed every six months. If you want an update, please contact us at [email protected].

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