TransferWise is a money transfer service allowing private individuals and businesses to send money abroad without hidden charges. To be precise, TransferWise enables expats, foreign students, and businesses to move money around the world. The firm’s pricing model provides customers with a lower-cost alternative to traditional ways of moving money abroad and helps them avoid the traditional bank’s charges.
TransferWise was founded in London in 2010 by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Kaarmann. Taavet was the first employee of Skype in 2003 and has worked with several startups as an angel investor and advisor. On the other hand, Kristo had worked for Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers. TransferWise is licensed and regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority.
TransferWise was founded by Taavet Hinrikus, Skype’s first employee, and financial consultant Kristo Käärmann. As Estonians working between their native country and the UK, they had personal experience of the “pain of international money transfer” due to bank charges on the amounts they needed to convert from euros to pounds and vice versa. In the words of Hinrikus, “I was losing five percent of the money each time I moved it. At the same time my co-founder Kristo Käärmann (also from Estonia) was starting to get paid in the UK and was losing a lot of money transferring cash back home to pay for a mortgage there.”
In February 2012, their approval with the UK financial regulator was finalised. In April 2013, they stopped letting users purchase Bitcoin, citing pressure from banking providers. In its first year, transactions through TransferWise amounted to €10 million. In May 2017, the company announced its customers were sending over £1 billion every month using the service.
In April 2017, it announced its decision to move its European headquarters from London to the European continent due to Brexit. The same month, the company announced its APAC hub in Singapore after becoming one of the first remittance companies to be allowed to offer online verification in Singapore.
In the past 8 years, the TransferWise movement has grown. Over 4 million customers now use the company to move more than 4 billion dollars every month (and they save $4 million in bank fees every day.) Richard Branson, and PayPal founders Max Levchin and Peter Thiel, among others, have invested in their vision.
Furthermore, Transferwise opened 11 offices, with over 1,300 employees, across 4 continents.
The newest addition is their borderless account, which lets one hold over 40 currencies at once and convert them. Launched in 2017, initially the account was supposed to be for businesses and freelancers with an account and card for consumers planned for later in the year. The Borderless account was available in Europe and the US at launch. A multi-currencies Mastercard debit card was launched in January 2018 for customers located in the European Union and support was later added for customers in the United States with more countries expected to follow in 2019.
Three things they believe about sending money:
1. It should be low-cost and fair.
There’s only one fair exchange rate, and that’s the one you get on TransferWise. And the fee for using TransferWise is always upfront. They believe that finance hasn’t been fair for a very long time, and it’s time for a better, cheaper way of moving your money.
2. It should be easy.
Sending money should be stress-free – no matter how far it’s travelling. That is why they have built a whole team that’s dedicated to keeping money safe and the process watertight. It’s bank-level security, minus the banks.
3. It should be fast.
TransferWise believes that sending money should be as fast as sending an email. So they made TransferWise as simple as logging on, signing up, and sending. Smart technology means money never crosses borders. And most transfers happen the same day.
Whenever a client send money using TransferWise, the transaction is made using the real, mid-market exchange rate; the one people would find using the Google currency pairing. However, most banks do not propose this rate to private customers. Instead, they add a markup to the mid-market rate and keep the difference for themselves.
The way TransferWise transfers work is not by transferring the sender’s money directly to the recipient as it happens with SWIFT, but by pairing the amounts with other TransferWise’s users sending the other way around.