A NEW Scottish foreign exchange business is planning to build a significant high street presence before the end of the year.
Scot FX is a venture between Direct Sharedeal founder Gordon Perry and former Ernst & Young partner David Tunstall.
The pair have also recently brought in David Hale, who has worked in foreign exchange for decades including spells in Russia and the US, as a partner.
The business, which has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, has its website live and plans to launch an online trading business soon.
Its first high street store will be opening in Musselburgh in the next few weeks and the plan is to have up to a dozen shops and employ around 30 by the end of 2012.
The founders are actively courting the small and medium-sized business market in Scotland, believing they can offer better deals on transactions in foreign currencies than anything currently available through major banks.
Mr Perry said: "We believe we are the only independent Scottish firm covering every aspect of currency, from shops to high net worth individuals to business.
"The first shop is opening within the next four weeks and the plan is to have between eight and 12 by the year-end.
"The first one is in Musselburgh which will be followed by Coatbridge. Musselburgh is basically the test site to make sure there are no problems, then we can hit the main high streets in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen."
Mr Tunstall was previously an adviser to Mr Perry and the pair have been working on the plans for Scot FX for around a year after deciding to come out of semi-retirement.
They are confident of being able to compete against major financial providers and have set ambitious growth targets.
Mr Tunstall: "There really is only so much golf you can play, so we got our heads together and looked at what we could do.
"It is the nature of the Scottish economy that there are a lot of small companies either buying goods from abroad or selling them abroad which need funds in euros or dollars or whatever else.
"We will provide payment ser-vices for individuals or small businesses who are moving money internationally.
"That could be buying a property abroad or purchasing goods but we'll do it at a rate which is more competitive than they would get at a high street bank."
Mr Perry added: "We have both been in financial services for a long time so have a lot of contacts and have been getting in touch with a lot of people.
"I'm confident we can compete against the banks. That is why we have set this up and are going for it."
The business has secured its regulatory approval from the Financial Services Authority and wants its brand to become quickly known across Scotland.
Mr Perry was one of four former Aitken Campbell directors who set up stockbroker Direct Sharedeal in Glasgow in 1999.
He stepped back from the firm towards the end of 2007 and it was acquired in 2008 by secretive former non-executive director Roland Witton who was based in Singapore.
In 2010, Direct Sharedeal was fined more than £100,000 by the FSA after a company acting on its behalf used misleading sales pitches.
The business was placed in administration last year.
Mr Tunstall worked in audit and corporate finance at Ernst & Young in Edinburgh, latterly in charge of around 70 staff, before becoming a consultant in 2009.