TransferWise rebrands as Wise in broader fintech push

22 Feb 2021

Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann. Image: Jake Farra

After 10 years, the London-based company is dropping ‘transfer’ from its name as it pursues a wider cross-border banking strategy.

Fintech giant TransferWise has rebranded as Wise in a bid to represent its broader financial services ambitions.

The London-based company was founded in 2011 as a means to quickly transfer money across borders with lower fees, and it now handles around £4.5bn in money transfers every month.

It has been one of fintech’s most successful companies and is hotly tipped for a public listing in the near future.

Chief executive Kristo Käärmann said in a blog post that the rechristened company’s mission now goes beyond international money transfers and is focused on a wider cross-border banking offering with debit cards and accounts details for getting paid in multiple currencies.

“For generations, banks have been defined by borders,” Käärmann wrote. “Traditional bank accounts trap our money in one country, making international lives more difficult and expensive than they need to be. We shouldn’t have to accept this status quo.”

The company has been tipped to expand its footprint for a while. Last year, it obtained a licence from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority that would allow it to offer investment management services. The company has not indicated whether it will be seeking a full banking licence.

Its core service, now simply known as Wise, allows customers to hold money in 55 currencies and receive payments in 10 currencies, while Wise Business provides an expanded offering for multi-user access. The company has 10m personal and business customers.

It has also developed Wise Platform for other financial services and fintech companies to integrate Wise’s money transfer tech into their own platforms.

A decade on from its founding and with a valuation of around $5bn, Wise is expected to pursue an initial public offering. Sky News reported in January that the company had enlisted Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to lead the long-awaited London offering.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin