Amidst the Brexit brouhaha, many foreign businesses have been raising concerns in regard to their fate after the UK-EU ‘divorce’. One of the many British-based businesses that might be affected is Transferwise. The €3.2 billion company offers online money transfer services to over 40 countries.
The co-founder of Transferwise, Taavet Hinrikus granted the head of StartupTV, Thomas Broemme, an exclusive interview. The two discussed the state of the banking industry (as opined by Taavet), the future plans of Transferwise, the fate of its London-based workers, and many more. Before we proceed, it’s pertinent to review the state of the banking industry and the Transferwise revolution.
What’s the State of the Banking Industry and the Transferwise Revolution?
It is no longer news that the banking industry is strict and slow on international money transfers. Further, though some local banks allow nation-to-nation or continental transfers, they often charge outrageous fees.
According to Business Matters, ‘Banks usually charge incredibly high hidden currency conversion fees depending on the currency. The banks take advantage of the opportunity because customers don’t see the fee.‘
When asked about his view on the state of the banking industry, Taavet said, ‘I think the banking industry, in general, is definitely ripe for disruption. The way banks are offering services is focused on locality and branch networks – banks are not reaching natives (who live outside their home country). We see it as one specific vertical, which is international transfers‘, he added.
Overall, it’s clear that the idea behind Transferwise is igniting a revolution concerning how international transfers are made. To be sincere, making a swift and cheap international transfer was almost impossible before the advent of Transferwise. That’s the reason behind its 8-year explosive growth, since the co-founders, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, started the company.
According to Taavet, ‘We (Transferwise) have five million customers. And we’re moving about $5 billion (€4.5 billion) every month.‘
The Fate of Transferwise Workers in London
Without mincing words, leaving the European Union would have several consequences on the United Kingdom, and trade restrictions aren’t excluded.
According to a report published by Bryan Caves, an international law firm with 25 offices globally, ‘Trade is imperative to the UK’s future prosperity outside the EU. Some foreign companies will be basing significant inward investment decisions into the UK upon the premise of free trade access to the wider European market. Others have said they will stay regardless of UK membership.‘
Transferwise may not be relocating its headquarters from London anytime soon, but ‘in order to keep on serving our European customers, we need to have a license in Europe because we don’t know what’s going to happen with Brexit’, explained Taavet.
He continued, ‘So we opened up our office in Brussels, Belgium. We got the license from National Bank. If less people come to us because of Brexit, we’ll be trading in Singapore and New York instead.’
London workers would likely keep their jobs because, ‘talent is always going to be the biggest question, ‘according to Taavet.
What’s Next for Transferwise?
The company is touted to have 1500 employees in over 40 countries and that number should increase to 2200 in the coming year. According to Taavet, ‘Transferwise is a global company…and we’ll continue that global expansion.‘
Points to note
- Transferwise, a €3.2 billion company that offers online money transfer services to over 40 countries, might be affected if Britain leaves the European Union.
- Founded by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, Transferwise has grown immensely after 8 years.
- London citizens working for Transferwise should worry less about the effect of Brexit on the jobs, as the co-founder of Transferwise, Taavet Hinrikus takes talent as a priority over race or nationality.