What’s next for TransferWise?
Me and Kristo started working on TransferWise because of our own frustration — banks were overcharging and under-serving for a simple service. And lying about it. We found a better way of doing this and we thought we can help few others around the world with a similar need.
At first it was all a dream, but the idea worked. And by now we’ve taken that dream and turned it into a truly global business, helping many people around the world. Little did we know at first that this would work for tens of millions of people in the future — today we’re serving millions already.
From a website launched by two Estonians to a company with 700 people. From the first guy sending us £2000 to the first million people using TransferWise. And this year alone there will be a million new people using TransferWise. From a simple currency exchange idea to a vision of a new kind of financial company. Our mission has grown as we have succeeded. Seeing how we can help consumers taught us how to go after the whole gargantuan market.
We’ve learned many things along the way. Scaling a business at speed can feel like an out of control roller-coaster. But we’ve built a team that’s empowered to take their own initiative based on what our customers need and that means we’ve been able to go a long way to achieving the mission. The learnings are probably worth a book on their own…
To have the biggest impact, the company needs to be financially successful and sustainable. What was an idea 7 years ago is now a company that will do 100M$+ in annual revenue. Next up 1B$ in revenue? In a few years it will be time to think seriously about becoming a public company like the strongest and most trusted financial institutions are. But when we do that we will explore that through our own lens — how will it help our customers? How will it help us achieve our mission faster?
We’ve gotten here through hard work and persistence. It’s kind of like running a marathon, but at sprint speed. For me personally it’s been a privilege to lead TransferWise for the last seven years and help our two-man-band become the world leader in its field.
Now I’m handing the day-to day running of the company and the role of CEO over to my co-founder, Kristo. I will take the role of Chairman. As Chair and board member — while part-time — I will be closely involved with TransferWise: continuing to shape the direction the company takes, working with external parties and supporting our product teams as they continue to build great things: focusing on the best ways for me to help TransferWise on the next stage of its journey. The company is in the best position imaginable, ready to change the world of finance for good. And as for me — besides TransferWise I’m planning to find more time to do more of what I love, focusing on disruption and helping the tech ecosystem flourish… and surely there are other great things in life? A continued need for learning drives me on.
It’s still early days for TransferWise — in many ways I still feel we’re just getting started. And the list of things to do before our mission gets accomplished is long. Here are a few of the things that we have coming up:
Geographic expansion continues. TransferWise has 10% market share in the UK and I don’t know of any other fintech business has reached that anywhere. Now we’ll work towards gaining 10% market share globally. And in UK we’ll be the biggest provider pretty soon. People in 38 countries can send money using TransferWise; and people in 61 countries can receive. But what about all the other countries in the world? For us to truly achieve our mission we need to reach everyone in the world who needs us: we have yet to impact the people who pay the highest fees to transfer money.
We work with regulators from around the world. In many places, some great progress has been made in opening up the financial services sector to non-banks. But with more regulatory innovation, there’s the potential for the sector to be completely disrupted and re-created in a way that puts the consumer at its heart and we’re looking forward to working with regulators to make this happen.
We’ve just started to scratch the surface for small businesses. On a high level they have the same needs — fast, low cost and easy to use money transfer. But they also need different reporting and onboarding and go-to-market. Unsurprisingly banks fail them as much as they fail consumers. Starting last year we’ve been working on a dedicated small business product, but it’s still early days for rolling that out globally.
It’s all made possible thanks to the infrastructure we’ve built at TransferWise. We’re a technology company at heart, but it’s only possible to do what we do by both being great at building and releasing software and really good at operating it efficiently. What we’ve had to learn through integrations with many dozens of banks and payment networks and working with regulators around the world is our secret sauce. And our infrastructure now is so good that banks are coming to us wanting to use this. I can’t wait until we’re ready to give everyone access to a modern API.
Lastly I’m excited about the potential of the Borderless Account. We developed this with our customers to solve more of their problems. But over time it could be the basis for a whole new product suite. The people and businesses who live borderless lives are being particularly badly served in their financial needs. We launched the business and freelancer version recently, next up is the consumer version with a debit card. It’s at the start of its own journey.
Onwards and upwards!