Estonian start-up TransferWise tops UK magazine Top 20
UK magazine London Loves Business ranked Estonian start-up firm TransferWise as the best start-up company in the finance technology sector based in London.
“This peer-to-peer platform allows people to transfer money abroad at a lower cost than is traditionally offered by the banks. The system works by making sure there are people who want to swap euros for pounds, at the same time as someone wants to transfer pounds from the UK,” the magazine said in its “London's top 20 Fin-Tech start-ups” article, published in November 2012.
Billing itself as the “Skype of money transfer”, TransferWise enables individuals and businesses to send money between countries for a fraction of the price that banks and others charge, using a peer-to-peer “crowdsourced” model — where money destined for transfer doesn’t unnecessarily leave each country — to get the best rate on the exchange. It passes on those saving by charging a small flat fee per transfer. The exchange relies on there being someone at the other end wanting to change euros into pounds. In order to guarantee that there will be someone, TransferWise works with The Currency Cloud for added liquidity.
The company’s founders, friends Taavet Hinrikus (Skype’s first employee) and Kristo Kaarmann (Deloitte and PWC) came up with the idea out of frustration at the amount they were paying to send money back to their native Estonia. In 2010 they started thinking about launching the company, which they did in 2011.
Currently customers can have EUR/GBP converted into GBP/EUR, USD, Polish zloty, Swiss francs, Danish krone, Swedish krona and Norwegian krone. The company plans to add more currencies in the future.
Institutional investors behind TransferWise include IA Ventures, Index Ventures, Kima Ventures, Seedcamp and The Accelerator Group. In addition to these, the company is supported by some private individuals who have built, or are building, PayPal, Wonga, Skype, Betfair and Simple.com.
To date, the company has grown to 20 employees, and plans to double the staff within a year, increasing the head count in its London and Tallinn offices. The focus will be on maintaining its positive customer experience and new product development (e.g. mobile, debit card support and additional currencies).
TransferWise was also named as “Startup of the Week” by Wired UK in August 2012. Furthermore, articles about the company have been publised in the Financial Times, The Guardian, Forbes, The New York Times as well as TechCrunch.