Explaining the Last Mile

Speed Team
18.05.20
3 minute read

What do we mean when we say “Your transfer’s complete”?

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TL;DR - It means our bank has sent out the money to your recipient. Unfortunately, it also means that while the money is out and moving along to your recipient’s account, we at TransferWise can’t ‘see’ where it is during this part of the journey. Most of the time, the money arrives at or before the time we’ve estimated it to but there are certainly cases where it doesn’t. Read on to find out more.

Detailed explanation

A recap of how estimates work at TransferWise

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We call this part of the transfer the “Last Mile”

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In many ways, this is not unlike how your Amazon package moves from one hub to another, reaching your local post office and then finally arriving at your doorstep. At TransferWise, we too have to move your package (digital money, in this case) to your recipient's bank account.

The Last Mile is a big problem

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Why do we sometimes fail to give you correct estimates?

We have historically relied on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with the banks where we have our accounts to tell you how long your transfer will take. For example, our bank in Brazil might tell us that it takes 2 hours for money that they’ve sent out to arrive at your recipient’s bank account.

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However, this is not always the case as the route to the recipient’s bank account actually has multiple steps in between and can vary greatly depending on which partner bank or recipient bank is involved.

Reality: It isn’t just getting from point A to B, there are more steps in between

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So what does the Last Mile speed depend on?

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There are 3 different legs of the Last Mile with 3 different factors influencing speed:

  1. Partner processing speed - How fast our bank is at processing our instructions
  2. Banking network speed - How fast a country’s banking network is at transmitting money between banks (this varies greatly depending on the country or region of the world)
  3. Recipient bank processing speed - How fast a recipient’s bank is at processing/clearing the money and reflecting that on the recipient’s bank account

How we’re solving the Last Mile problem

We know it's a big, complicated problem. So how do we fix this?

We asked for your help and you answered

Since we can’t fully rely on our banking partners, we decided to crowdsource the data from you instead

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A lot of people have already benefited from your feedback

Your feedback has helped to provide better estimates to other users, who have sent more than 2 million transfers since we released this feature in January!

We will tell you when we know you might experience a slow transfer

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You contact us less often when you get a better estimate

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Consider these two scenarios:

  1. We say it's going to take 2 hours for the money to arrive but your recipient only receives their money in 4 hours
  2. We say it’s going to take 4 hours and your recipient receives their money in 4 hours

Now it’s easy to understand why people in the first group contact us more often, even though most of the time everything is fine and the money is just still on its way.

In the chart above, we can see that despite more users receiving adjusted estimates, they consisted of a decreasing share of customers who contacted us at the Last Mile.

There is still so much more to be done

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This means that we’ve covered less than 1% of recipient banks. That still leaves 99% more to go!

Help us continue to make money transfers more transparent

If you receive a notification from us asking for the delivery feedback, It would help us immensely if you filled it out so we can make worry-free and transparent estimates the norm for all TransferWise users.

Thank you from the TransferWise community!

Onwards!

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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