10 years ago if someone told you you could do your job from a beach in the Pacific ocean you probably wouldn’t have believed them.
Today, technology allows many people to do just that. You can find freelance work online, get paid almost anywhere using services like TransferWise - and even join a board meeting using the likes of Google Hangouts. Airbnb lets you find accommodation almost anywhere, Uber can hook you up with a ride in most cities - and with Amazon you’ll never miss a family birthday (as long as you have WiFi).
But have you ever wondered how much it actually costs to live as an expat? More and more people find themselves living in one country and having financial responsibilities in another. Whether it’s a mortgage, a student loan, gifts to family, or a monthly pension. The costs of paying these bills from overseas can stack up. You’d think banks would be your best friend in this situation - but in reality the opposite is true. In fact, banks can charge as much as 5% to send money overseas - often this charge is hidden in the exchange rate they use.
That means for every £1,000 you send home to pay off your student loan, you’d lose £50. That’s a lot of margaritas you could be buying on the beach. Outrageous. Luckily, just as Airbnb and Uber are disrupting global markets, so to is TransferWise. TransferWise uses peer-to-peer technology to get around the hidden bank charges when you send money overseas. It works as a middleman, meaning the currency never leaves it’s respective country.
This allows them to charge £1 for transfers up to £200 and 0.5% for everything above that. Started just 4 years ago and leading the rapidly growing FinTech industry, the platform already moves £500 million globally. Every month.
FinTech (or Financial Technology) has seen strong growth recently - eroding the banks share of the traditional finance markets. TransferWise is just one company making people's lives easier (and often cheaper) using innovative technology to cut out the banks.
Some other examples include:
Funding Circle is a peer-to-peer lending platform that allows small businesses to loan and lend money without having to work with the banks. Since launch over £1bn has been lent 12,000 businesses worldwide.
GoCardless uses smart technology to make it much easier for businesses to accept and process direct debits, by making it more affordable. Perfect for small businesses.
MarketInvoice lets small companies borrow against unpaid invoices - a serious cashflow aid for small businesses.
Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and CEO of TransferWise, believes that we’ll see a significant change in how we manage our finances over the next decade. But that doesn’t mean the end of banks:
"The banks will probably still be here in 15 years, but with the rise of FinTech I hope we’ll see a financial sector that has significantly reduced levels of friction and unfairness for consumers."
It’s this consumer first focus that will mean FinTech services will enable people to live, work and manage their finances globally. While traditional finance has underserved consumers for decades, we’re seeing the emergence of a new set of FinTech players allowing people to live truly global lives.