In praise of @transferwise: my first experience with the service

This is a post in praise of Transferwise. No, I have no vested interest in them.

Towards the end of last week, I needed to transfer some money abroad. I’d originally been introduced to Transferwise a couple of years ago at an Albion event, but having never needed to transfer money till now, didn’t have to use it. Over the last couple of years, I’d heard about them off and on more regularly, most recently in this list of the 6 hottest start-ups of London in 2014, where it is predicted to be the next huge exit, even as competitors like CurrencyTransfer and CurrencyFair have started getting more media coverage.

Media hoo-ha aside, no platform or company can ride above a product that is not good enough. Transferwise definitely does NOT have that problem.

The user experience is seamless. You can start the process without having to sign up (we live in the age of impatience, so every little action that reduces this counts) and at every stage you get an email to confirm that things are progressing OK, apart from being able to see this on your account page itself (after you have signed up, which is very simple – no unnecessary details required, just an email and password). This repeated confirmation is important because it’s money we’re talking about, and you can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Tracking progress in-account:Capture

The emails:

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There are other neat design touches as well. The country flag of the payee (you) and the recipient is always displayed next to their names, so it’s always clear between which countries money is being sent. And the ‘log out’ button is a lock – no words, just top right after you’re logged in. It’s a new-ish design for that action in my opinion, but so so simple.

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And the best part? They take £4.98 instead of £49.98 that banks take for the same financial service and worse customer service.  As Taavet Hinrikus, one of the founders and an ex-Skype employee said:

“Banking needs to be democratized in the way that low-cost airlines did 20 years ago in aviation or Skype did 10 years ago in telecoms.”

It absolutely did. This is why I love market disruptors. It’s pretty clever: the algorithm works by matching an exchange, such as Euros to British pounds, with others who want to turn pounds into Euros. It took me a short while to familiarise myself with the working of the platform and a quick look at the FAQs answered most of my concerns: I can restrict the exchange rate at which my currency can be converted to protect it against small movements on the market, for example. It’s also comforting to know that Transferwise won’t convert funds if the exchange rate deteriorates more than 3%.

If any of you would like to try it out, here’s an invite code:

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