CHINAInnovationST19

TransferWise releases its 2019 annual report

Our mission has become irreversible, the company financially independent, and adoption continues to accelerate. Thank you - TransferWise customers - for making all of this possible.

You’re now a community of more than 6 million people transferring £4 billion every month. That’s a saving of £1 billion a year compared to making these transactions with your bank. In the summer of 2018, you were 3 million people, transferring £2 billion monthly. Our revolution is now twice as strong as it was last year.

This financial year is the third in which TransferWise has posted a profit, with a 53% growth in annual revenue to £179 million. For us, it’s really important that we grow responsibly and sustainably. Posting a modest profit means customers can know that TransferWise is here for the long-term. We come to work every day to improve and expand TransferWise, so it’s powerful to know that we’re funded by you, to help you in your borderless lives, and roll out TransferWise for others like you all over the world.

So how did we get here?

Going borderless & global expansion

The borderless account launched in 2017, allowing customers to hold their money in more than 45 different currencies and giving them multiple local bank account numbers in countries including the UK, Europe and the US. The accompanying borderless Mastercard debit card launched in Europe in 2018, and in the USA, Australia and New Zealand this year. Right now, customers trust TransferWise with over £1 billion in borderless account deposits.

TransferWise for Business

The 2019 financial year saw major new features added to TransferWise for Business, including the launch of a borderless Mastercard debit card for businesses, an integration with SME accountancy software Xero, and open access to the TransferWise API. The launch of the open API makes it cheaper for enterprises needing to process large batches of transactions. Since these enhancements were announced, 10,000 new business customers have signed up to the service every month.

TransferWise for Banks

This year brought an opportunity to the smartest and fastest banks in Europe. These banks use TransferWise’s API to send customer payments via our network, while customers remain in the bank’s own app. The benefit is faster, cheaper, more convenient payments for the bank’s customers. Unsurprisingly, all of them became the most efficient bank for international payments in their country overnight. The last financial year saw partnerships announced with France’s second largest bank BPCE, which has over 15 million customers, UK challenger Monzo, which has over two million customers, and Dutch neo-bank bunq.

Mission zero

Bringing down the cost of sending money across borders is still a huge problem to solve. Every year, it’s estimated that people and small-to-medium businesses transfer $10 trillion internationally and lose $200 billion in bank fees. Traditional bank networks are local, making international transfers expensive, slow and inconvenient. Because most of these fees are hidden in marked-up exchange rates, it’s impossible for regular people to compare costs and find a good deal.

We’ve lowered our average price globally, from 0.73% of the transfer amount in 2016, to 0.67% of the transfer amount in 2018. Over 20% of transfers are now instant, meaning they’re delivered in 20 seconds or less. While pricing has overall changed for the better, we’ve also had to raise fees a few times when a route turned out to be more expensive than we forecast. We know that’s not ideal, and I want to reassure you that we’ll always charge as little as possible. That means you’ll pay what it costs us to provide and improve the service, plus a small margin for a rainy day. We’re working to reduce these numbers in the longer-term, in our mission to bring the cost of sending money around the world to near zero.

2018 brought some indications that the entire industry is moving towards a fairer approach. In the latter half of the year, a landmark ruling came through the EU’s Cross-Border Payments Regulations, stating that people must know the full costs and charges of international transactions upfront. This is the first time that a regulator has mandated transparency, and is a very positive sign that the industry could be moving towards TransferWise’s transparent model. Thank you to all the people who have helped us campaign for this regulation, from customers through to MEPs. The number of people switching from old intransparent ways to our new system is a huge proof point that people want transparency, and a major part of this legislative change.

What comes next?

The year has been a big step forward for TransferWise, but it’s early morning for our mission. 99% of the world is still moving money with expensive, intransparent providers, and for the £1 billion we save customers every year, hundreds more billions are wasted in hidden fees. I look forward to seeing what leaps we make in the next year, as we continue our journey towards reducing those numbers.

Diary of Activities
China Innovation Study Tour 2019
28 October - 01 November 2019 | China
MEA International Finance Summit 2019
07 November 2019 | UAE