Back when TransferWise was merely an idea, a few years ago now, my co-founder Taavet and I hoped, but never assumed, that we might one day spark an irreversible change in the global financial system. Increasingly that feels within reach.
We’re on the way to replacing old-fashioned international bank transfers with something far faster, far easier to use, and an order of magnitude cheaper. Transparency is becoming the new normal. For the old institutions who used to profit handsomely from hidden fees, the lights are coming up, the music’s fading out, and the party’s coming to an end.
It’s all thanks to you, the TransferWise community.
You’ve been using our platform to move money between banks. You move more than £2 billion every single month. You move it to support family back home. To pay into a savings account. To pay back your student loans. Many many reasons. And a lot of you have been moving money from your own bank in one country, to your own bank in another, in order to spend it and pay for your daily lives.
So we thought — how could we make that even easier? With fewer links in the chain. Fewer banks in the chain.
What if TransferWise could replace the banks at either end of your transfer entirely? What if you could receive and store the money in TransferWise in whatever currency, convert it instantly into another, and then spend it immediately using a TransferWise debit card? There would be no need to use a traditional bank at all.
We launched an answer to these questions in May 2017 — v1.0 of the Borderless account. We initially offered it to businesses and freelancers. It let them hold 25 currencies and switch between them instantly. And they could get real account numbers in the US, UK, Germany and Australia, to be paid like a local.
I was pumped as we released the code to our public site and apps for the first time, and as journalists wrote their comments, speculating about how TransferWise was shedding its single-minded skin and becoming something more. But it wasn’t complete — you couldn’t spend the money directly from TransferWise. That was still to come.
We started trialling a TransferWise debit card a few months back with a select group of longtime TransferWise customers. We’ve learned heaps, made the product better and better thanks to your patience and feedback, and we've been overwhelmed by the demand we’re seeing.
We’re confident now that people across the world want to use TransferWise for more than money transfers. That they would love to use one account instead of maintaining bank accounts abroad. To get paid and spend directly through their borderless account. All on TransferWise.
And last week we passed a great and quite unexpected milestone; total money paid into our customers’ borderless accounts hit the £1 Billion mark.
So today we open up the next iteration of the borderless account, made whole with the new TransferWise debit Mastercard, for spending in any country without those dubious exchange rates and foreign transaction fees.
You can use this card wherever you are in the world, and it’ll intelligently select the best currency to use. It’ll use your euro balance when in France, your dollar balance when stateside and, if you don't have the balance in the right currency, it instantly converts from another balance — whichever will give you the lowest conversion fee. It’s always trying to save you money.
Thank you for being part of this story so far. Thank you for entrusting our platform with your hard earned dollars, pounds, euros, rupees and reals. For being part of an entirely new way to think about money and how it should move across borders.
Bye bye bank fees, hello world.
TransferWise co-founder & CEO
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