RationalFX: helping in the hunt for PPE

The escalation of Covid-19 into a global health crisis has seen the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers become one of the defining issues of the pandemic. According to the Health and Safety Executive, PPE is “equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work”. When it comes to protecting people that are risking their own lives to save others from the disease, PPE includes gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, face masks, gowns, and aprons.

PPE supply crisis

Despite it being essential for health workers to wear PPE to prevent infection, Britain has struggled to source sufficient supplies in what is a competitive international market. This has led to major concerns about the welfare of these key workers, who have repeatedly complained that they have insufficient PPE to do their jobs safely.

Demand for PPE hasn’t simply risen in line with the rapid rate of infections; it has accelerated even faster due to the risk of health workers transferring the virus to colleagues and others. Official government guidelines say that doctors, nurses, and care workers should replace gloves and aprons after every contact with a patient. While equipment such as face masks can be changed after each shift.

Unfortunately, meeting these standards has proved almost impossible as supplies run worryingly short. So much so that by mid-April health officials said that certain items of PPE may be reused rather than discarded, with some medical staff even having to improvise by using bin liners as makeshift aprons.

Opening PPE supply lines

The government has scoured the world for new PPE supply lines, in a bid to address these crippling shortages. As well as agreeing deals with over 100 international suppliers, it has also signed contracts with homegrown firms to dramatically ramp up PPE production domestically.

Addressing the nation, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I can announce that we have now signed contracts to manufacture two billion items of PPE here in the UK”, he added that “While we continue to improve the logistics and work hard to get everyone the PPE that they need, these new supplies mean that we’re not simply keeping up with demand. We are now able to begin to replenish our stockpiles”.

International payments

Identifying international suppliers – of both completed products and the raw materials needed to produce PPE in the UK – and agreeing to work with them is just the first step on the journey to addressing the supply crisis. Swift, cost-effective and secure international payments also play a vital role in opening supply chains.

Speed of payment is particularly important during these challenging times. Whether dealing with manufacturers overseas directly or agents that facilitate their international trade, invoices need to be paid in a timely fashion to keep the PPE supply chain moving. The faster international payments can be made to these suppliers, the faster this lifesaving equipment can be made available to those who need it the most.

Accessing competitive exchange rates is equally important when paying international invoices because the cost of doing so will fluctuate in tandem with them if they are left unaccounted for. Currencies are notoriously sensitive to dips in business and consumer activity. So, mounting evidence that the fallout from Covid-19 was strangling global trade and economic growth soon triggered a period of heightened market volatility – a trend that has driven exchange rate volatility beyond the levels experienced during the 2008 financial crisis and brought the need to manage currency market risk into sharp focus.


RationalFX has the knowledge and experience required to help your business benefit from quick, cost-effective, and secure international payments during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.


  • Unlike high street banks, which typically take 2-5 business days to complete international transactions, RationalFX offers a next working day service for all major currencies to anywhere in the world and between one and two days for most others.
  • You can manage your business’s international payment requirements outside of office hours using your free-to-open online account.


  • We can help you implement a bespoke currency risk strategy by introducing you to a range of tools that are designed to help you manage the cost of your international payments by planning ahead, such as Forward Contracts and Market Orders.
  • We can offer exchange rates that are typically more competitive than the banks, who make the bulk of their profit by adding a hefty margin.
  • Your dedicated account manager understands that timing is crucial when paying international invoices, ensuring they provide invaluable market guidance and insight.


  • We are authorised and regulated by the FCA and registered with HMRC.
  • We operate segregated client accounts with Barclays. This safeguards your funds against any serious operational difficulty.

Why choose RationalFX?

Based in the heart of London’s financial district Canary Wharf, RationalFX has traded over $10billion in currencies across the globe. Take advantage of our competitive exchange rates, market expertise, suite of FX products and online payment platform when you make bank to bank transfers in over 50 currencies worldwide.

Whatever your reason for making overseas payments, we’re confident our currency specialists can save you time and money while providing peace of mind. Call our team now on: +44 20 7220 8181