Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus(Skype’s first employee) started this UK–based currency exchange company in 2011. A newer money transfer company, Transferwise enjoys being seen as an upstart that’s shaking up London’s forex industry. Through extensive press exposure they coined the termed peer to peer (P2P) currency exchange. Their service is similar to a system known as hawala, traditionally employed in under-developed countries where formal banking is prohibitively costly, heavily-regulated, or undeveloped.
Transferwise’s concept began when the Estonian founders sought to avoid losing bank charges each time they transferred currency between the UK and Estonia, making a private agreement to deposit their incomes directly into each another’s UK and Estonian banks.
Transferwise is a crowdsourced currency exchange service that relies on extensive investment that began with $1.3 million seed funding. In May 2013 Transferwise secured an additional $6 M in investment, raising an additional $25M in 2014, when Richard Branson joined the investors. An additional $58M followed and as of early 2015, Transferwise had raised a total of $91M in funding.
Transferwise handles more than 300 currency routes and has transferred more than3 billion GBP since its conception, due largely to the media attention the firm has garnered.
Headquartered in London, Transferwise has over 450 employees and offices in New York and Tallinn.
Transferwise’s slogan, ‘The clever way to beat bank fees’ implies that they’re the only currency exchange company with peer to peer exchange service, in fact their competitor Currencyfair uses P2P in combination with traditional exchange practices.
Peer to Peer Exchange
Transferwise’s system for currency exchange is to transfer the sender’s money directly to the recipient of an equivalent transfer going in the opposite direction. Likewise, the recipient of the transfer receives a payment not from the sender initiating the transfer, but from the sender of the equivalent transfer. The company charges €1 or 0.5% (whichever is larger) and up to 1.5% for exotic currency.
Drawbacks of P2P
Advantages of P2P
International transfers to 59 countries.
Big and friendly, Transferwise hasn’t got lots of services it can clutter up its pages with, actually. The site is somewhat disappointing in terms of video media display, especially considering the company’s high tech founders. Some nice articles on the blog offer breezy content aimed at a broad, generic client base with articles detailing the new frontier of banking as seen by one of the founders. No real support for corporate or other business is offered, no doubt because Transferwise caters to straightforward currency transfers.
Transferwise feels like a brash start-up capitalising on a niche market, on youthful entrepreneurial zeal which gets the company attention, as if they were reforming the banking sector. This disingenuous approach doesn’t inspire trust amongst many potential clients who seek partnership in their relationships with their currency support teams in other exchange companies. Because Transferwise hasn’t got any business support, we see an overall score of 4 out of 5 stars as fair or 80.7%.
TransferWise is the UK’s largest P2P company, offering competitive exchange rates for individual exchanges.
Transferwise offers a limited range of services. Without the option of forward options and contracts, clients cannot lock in an exchange rate. They’re quoted the market rate at the time they initialise the exchange, but those quotes are the current market value not the market value on the day they receive their funds. For large purchases-like a home abroad, clients have far more predictability and peace of mind with a range of services not available with Transferwise.