In 2011 Wise was born. My co-founder Taavet and I set out to fix banking for international people. In fact, international banking didn’t really exist.
We knew people deserved better than hidden charges, marked-up exchange rates and slow transfers when their money crossed borders. They didn’t want trips to their bank branch and they didn’t want anxiety about where their money was when in transit.
So we started building the infrastructure to move money instantly, conveniently, transparently and working towards getting it closer to free. Fast-forward 11 years and we’re now moving 3.5% of all personal money that moves across borders. We’re really pleased to get this far – but there’s still 96.5% left to go. And we remain laser focused on our mission and continue our fight against hidden fees.
What did we do in the last year?
We just released our first results as a public company. You can read the financial deep dive here. But here are some of the highlights.
We lowered costs and dropped prices (even faster than expected!), our payments got faster, we developed more features for businesses and initiated more platform partnerships.
Today the Wise account lets you keep over 50 currencies in one place, and convert between them instantly — and with the Wise debit card you can spend anywhere. Next up our customers asked us to put their money to work. So last year we launched 'Assets' in the UK, so now they can choose to invest their money, whilst retaining access to it — no matter the currency.
49% of our transfers are now instant, arriving in less than 20 seconds, compared with 40% just six months ago. And a lot of the time they’re incredibly low cost, and we continue to find ways to reduce the cost for our customers. This means that now, over 13 million people and businesses are saving over a billion pounds a year compared to using their bank.
In the last year, we also continued to invest in our infrastructure, improving our service across our three products.
- Wise account: This year we brought the Wise account to people in Brazil and Malaysia and introduced the Wise Card in Canada. We also launched Assets in the UK, our new investment product.
- Wise Business: Money management has been made easier with the launch of expense cards. And we’ve deepened our partnerships with QuickBooks so that paying bills is simple and quick.
- Wise Platform: In the US we have integrated with Google Pay and linked up with other financial services providers like Sable, a US neo-bank. We also integrated Shinhan Bank, South Korea’s second largest bank.
This financial year was also big for the company itself. We grew from around 2,400 Wisers to almost 3,400 in just 12 months — and opened a new office in Austin to fuel our growth in North America. In July, Wise listed on the London Stock Exchange, and although the listing hasn’t changed who we are or how we operate, we‘re hugely proud that our customers can now own a stake in Wise. Now every owner can be more closely aligned with our mission and invest in the fight against archaic financial borders.
We have so much more to do
In an increasingly fractured world, the need for borderless international banking has never been greater. That’s why one year into our life as a public company, we will continue to say that the number we really care about is the amount people and businesses lost to hidden fees.
Last year, that was £187 billion!
That's the amount banks and brokers charge people and businesses without telling them. They hide that £187 billion in inflated exchange rates. And then can legally get away with that. For now.
We will continue fighting to make hidden fees a thing of the past. There’s momentum. Both the US and the EU are looking into revising laws that could close the loopholes to enable banks to get away with these hidden fees.
We are driven by our mission to build money without borders and to make the lives of international people and businesses easier. These people and businesses deserve better. We grew our market share of personal transfers to 3.5%. And as we serve more and more businesses, we will increase our share in this segment too.
We will continue to invest in infrastructure, build features for a smooth and delightful banking experience, and expand globally to bring Wise to more people and businesses around the world.