LONDON — TransferWise is branching out beyond its core business of online international money transfer, launching a new business account and planning a foreign exchange debit card later this year.
TransferWise, one of Britain’s few tech unicorns, announced on Tuesday that it is launching a new “borderless account” — an online account that can hold multiple currencies. It aims to help businesses manage payments and costs in local currencies across multiple countries using just one account.
TransferWise’s CEO and cofounder Taavet Hinrikus told Business Insider: “Those people and businesses who are leading a more international life — they’re either working, studying abroad — they are in a really tough position. Business banking is pretty rubbish on its own but if you think about international banking — really poor.
“We thought, we’re helping businesses and people to make international payments already and we have very fantastic infrastructure to do it. For us, it was about using the infrastructure in a different way to solve another pain point for these people.”
The new account carries no setup costs or monthly fees. Businesses will be charged when they move money between currencies, with 15 different currencies supported at launch. The borderless account opens to businesses, freelancers, and sole traders in the UK and Europe today, with a global rollout planned for later in the year.
TransferWise plans to launch its “borderless account” to consumers later this year and will also launch a debit card. Business Insider first reported that TransferWise was considering launching a currency card of its own last September.
The debit card launch represents a push into the competitive travel money market, by allowing TransferWise customers to spend abroad through their account rather than simply sending money to bank accounts.
Many in the industry will likely see the debit card launch as a response to Revolut, a fast-growing startup that has attracted over half a million users with its ultra-low-fee foreign exchange card. Revolut, launched in 2014, recently launched a monthly free transfer limit in a bid to “to challenge TransferWise.”
The “borderless account” also comes weeks after WorldFirst, an SME-focused online money transfer business, announced its own multi-currency account.
Hinrikus said TransferWise’s new products are part of the company’s efforts to build “one of the few new global financial services brands” and played down the competition.
He told BI: “I don’t think we feel pressure from anything else other than our customers. It’s really about us our continuing to evolve what we’re doing. We’ve always known there are many other adjacent problems next to the one we’re solving.
“We’ve been building our infrastructure for 6 years which allows us to do many wonderful things. Payments is a scale business. The more payments you get going through your rails, the cheaper and faster it is.”
Hinrikus said TransferWise had other new products in the works but wouldn’t be drawn on what they might be.
TransferWise, which was reportedly valued at $US1.1 billion last year, announced earlier this month that it is on track to make £100 million in revenues this year and turn a profit for the first time. TransferWise, which has raised over $US110 million to date, currently transfers over £1 billion across its platform each month.
Asked whether TransferWise is considering an IPO this year, Hinrikus told BI: “We’re really busy on continuing to grow the business and such we’re not thinking about anything of the kind you’ve mentioned. It’s still very much the beginning. There’s so much more for us to do and we’re continuing to double down on building the business.”
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