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TransferWise overhauls itself and launches TV advertising to challenge the banks for the mainstream customer

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London, 17 September 2014: After hitting its £1bn milestone and raising $25m from Sir Richard Branson and others this year, TransferWise is now moving beyond the ‘early adopter phase’ to challenge the banks for the mainstream customer. As a first step towards this goal, TransferWise launches today: 

  • Web: Website redesign, including a streamlined and more intuitive user experience which ‘onboards’ customers twice as fast as before.
  • Design: A new visual identity and logo - ‘The Fast Flag’ - to create a sharp contrast with traditional banks and money transfer brokers.
  • Mobile: iOS 8 app for iPhone 6 and 6+ and iPad, featuring total redesign, touch-ID login and deep integration with the iPhone contacts book. 
  • TV: Its first primetime TV advert to air nationally in the UK from today.

Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise, said:
“The retail banking industry - particularly in the UK - is dominated by a handful of major players. This poses a huge challenge for fintech companies like us, looking to attract consumers who’ve grown up with the same few brand names.

We believe that just being a little better isn’t enough, so we strive to offer something that’s ten times easier, faster and better than the banks to make mainstream consumers aware of alternative finance providers like us.

iPhone 6 Screenshot
iPhone 6 Screenshot

That’s why we’ve invested in the new product, brand and TV ad that we’re launching today.”

If you would like more information or an interview with Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise, please call Antonia Rofagha (07864932720) or email press@transferwise.com.

Notes to editors:

About TransferWise
International money transfers are more expensive than meets the eye - even when banks and brokers claim there are ‘no fees’. Many banks take as much as 5 percent of the money being sent. TransferWise is the clever new alternative that allows people to transfer money abroad at a lower cost than ever before. It uses technology developed by the people who built Skype and PayPal to remove all the fees the foreign exchange industry has kept hidden for decades. Customers have already moved more than £1bn using the platform - an approach that has put over £45m back in their pockets.

How did TransferWise get started?
Estonian friends Taavet and Kristo came up with the idea for building the platform when they first became expats in London and were confronted by the high fees banks charge to transfer money abroad.

Taavet had worked for Skype in Estonia, so was paid in euros, but lived in London. Kristo worked in London, but had a mortgage in euros back in Estonia.

They realised they each needed the currency the other had, so they devised a simple plan: every month Kristo put pounds in Taavet’s British bank account and Taavet put euros in Kristo’s euro account. They used the official mid-market rate exchange rate (that’s the one in the papers, not the one invented by the bank). They both received the right amount of money, and neither paid any bank fees.

Within a few months they’d saved thousands of pounds and realised there were probably millions of others that needed a system just like theirs. So they set to work - the rest is TransferWise.

Currencies
TransferWise supports currency transfers between euro, British pound, Swiss franc, Polish zloty, Turkish lira, Romania leu, Bulgarian lev, Georgian lari, Hungarian forint, Danish, Swedish, Czech, Norwegian krone and US Dollar. It also supports transfers from these currencies to Indian rupee, Australian, Singaporean, Hong Kong, and New Zealand dollar. Transfers from these currencies to all other supported currencies and many other routes are coming soon.

Customers
TransferWise has reduced the cost of sending money abroad so significantly it doesn’t have a “typical customer”. Anyone who lives, works, studies or does business abroad will find significant savings.

That said, there are several broad groups we are particularly popular with at the moment.
These include:

(1) People just like Taavet and Kristo, TransferWise’s co-founders. Expats who are paid in one currency, but spend their money in another.
(2) Freelancers who get a rotten deal from the banks and brokers alike. Susan, an Irish freelance writer customer of ours, has worked out that she was losing hundreds a year when her British clients paid her through PayPal.
(3) British pensioners who have retired to Spain and want to see their retirement funds go further.
(4) Small and medium-sized businesses. Every small business needs to make their cash go as far as possible. This is particularly true of startups who raise overseas investment don’t want to see 5 percent of it go to the banks!

Growth story
The business has transferred over £1bn worth of customers' money, saving its customers over £45m in banking fees.

TransferWise started in early 2011 with the two founders, making transfers between just British Pound and Euro. It has since added a further 150 members of staff and 252 currency routes. The firm continues to grow between 20-30 percent a month.

Investors
TransferWise has attracted $33m from some of the world’s leading investors. Most recently this includes Richard Branson and Facebook’s first outside investor and co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel. TransferWise was his first Valar Ventures investment in Europe.

Other investors include SV Angel, fellow PayPal founder, Max Levchin, IA Ventures, Index Ventures, TAG (Robin Klein and Saul Klein), Seedcamp, Betfair’s former CEO David Yu, and the owner of Le Monde Xavier Niel (via Kima Ventures).

What are the founders’ backgrounds?

Taavet Hinrikus
Taavet Hinrikus is co-founder of TransferWise, the international money transfer platform. The business allows regular people to access the real mid-market exchange rate by cutting out traditional banking fees altogether. It charges only a tiny, totally transparent service charge.

In the two years since it launched, the business has transferred over £1bn worth of customer money and has attracted $33m from investors such as Richard Branson, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, co-founders of PayPal.

Prior to starting TransferWise, Taavet was Skype's director of strategy until 2008, starting as the firm's first-ever employee. He also helps the startup community as an advisor and angel investor. His investments include Tweetdeck, Mendeley, OMGPOP, Betaworks, Farmeron and Teleportd among others.

At TransferWise, Taavet looks after marketing and product development.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taavet (@taavet)
LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/taavethinrikus/

Kristo Käärmann
Kristo Kaarmann is the co-founder of TransferWise, the international money transfer platform. The business allows regular people to access the real mid-market exchange rate by cutting out traditional banking fees altogether. It charges only a tiny, totally transparent service charge.

In the two years since it launched, the business has transferred over £1bn worth of customer money and has attracted $33m from investors such as Richard Branson, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, co-founders of PayPal.

Prior to starting TransferWise, Kristo was a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers. He worked with European banks and insurers to modernise their processes and systems. Stunned by their inefficiency, he teamed up with Taavet Hinrikus, then Skype's director of strategy, to develop an entirely new system for moving money across borders.

At TransferWise, Kristo is in charge of operations, development, and compliance.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kaarmann
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kkaarmann

Security
TransferWise is fully regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA; formerly the FSA - Financial Services Authority). REF 571669