In February 2021, the company formerly known as Transferwise announced their newly redefined offerings and re-entered the financial services market as Wise. The London-based enterprise, which originated as a way to bypass overpriced cross-border payments, has transformed into an all-encompassing venture. Wise has vowed to become “the world’s most international account.”
In this review, we will look at any changes brought about by the rebranding, dissecting the company’s unique selling propositions and any changes to their international money transfer services.
Founders Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus originally plotted the premise of Wise (formerly TransferWise) as a solution to the problems they were experiencing when transferring money overseas to manage their personal finances. Born out of their real-life experiences and the frustration of being charged excessive transfer fees and undesirable exchange rates when sending money home to Estonia from the UK. The motive behind Wise has continued to evolve: 10 years and 10 million customers later, it is now one of the leading international money transfer platforms in the world.
Due to their growth, Wise has been able to identify the diverse requirements of their users and is adapting in order meet these customer needs. CEOs Kristo and Taavet have pledged to take on banking, by building an alternative international infrastructure to suit individuals and businesses underserved and misunderstood by traditional financial institutions.
Over the last decade Wise has maintained their promise to offer customers total transparency and the true mid-market rate, with zero hidden fees or unexpected costs. In this section we will discuss how the company lives up to these expectations.
In a bid to make money transfers more affordable, Wise is transparent about their exchange rates: a pledge to match the mid-market rate is publicised across their multiple platforms.
We tested this out with a transfer of £1,000 GBP to CHF, using the Wise widget. We received an exchange rate of 1.295 which was identical to the live interbank rate for GBP to CHF, as seen on XE.
Unlike other companies who add percentage-based markups onto exchange rates, Wise profit margins are not determined by the sending amount. Instead, on average, Wise exchange rate mark-ups rarely exceed 0.5%. This is very low when compared to the 3 – 7% profit margins of banks and other financial providers.
It is easy to identify Wise fees as they are displayed front and centre via the Wise widget, when arranging any international money transfer. This widget can be found on the homepage of the website and home screen of the mobile app, and it presents the following details:
Due to the fact Wise does not charge a mark-up on top of their exchange rates, the company relies on fees to make their profit. This being said, the fees are minute compared to international bank transfer fees and determined by the amount of money sent, the location and the payment method. UK customers benefit from the same flat-fees no matter what country they transfer money to.
The company is based in the UK, with Wise headquarters nestled in the heart of London’s financial district, alongside The Stock Exchange and the Bank of England. Outside of the UK, Wise has branches in Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Estonia and Hong Kong. In addition to this, the company has subsidiaries in Canada, Japan, the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Brazil, and India.
Wise customers can send money to 71 destination countries, from 43 sending countries, with over 1000 transfer routes and country combinations covered. The mid-market rate is applied to the 57 different currencies currently offered. Popular destination countries include:
We have put together a list of the predominant pros and cons of using Wise, so you can compare the company’s services to other providers:
Wise divides offer 3 types of transfers, the details of which differ from country to country, but all of which are safe and secure. For instance, the types of transfer available when sending money from the UK include:
Before initiating your money transfer the fees associated with each of the above transfer types are displayed for your convenience.
When it comes to sending money transfers there is no minimum amount, but there is a limit to the maximum you can send and this largely depends on the currency. For instance, when sending GBP, the maximum limit is 1,000,000 GBP. When sending euros, the maximum is 1,200,000 EUR and when sending US Dollar, the maximum is 1,000,000 USD.
The currency pair and how you pay for your transfer determine the length of time it takes for the transfer to get to your destination. Wise says that it should take between 1 and 2 days for your money to hit the recipient’s account. However, customer experiences reveal that it can take up to 4 days.
The transfer speeds for each of the above mentioned transfer types vary, due to the different processing times of each payment and delivery method:
Accepted payment methods vary depending on the countries you are sending to and from. That being said, the main ways you can pay for your transfer and send money are as follows:
Most currencies only support local bank transfers and this is often seen as Wise’s major downfall, as only some currencies can be paid for via debit or credit card, and the limited available payment options prove off-putting to some customers.
Wise offers great services for both private and business customers and commonly cited reasons for using Wise are as follows:
Incorporated on 31st March 2010, the Wise head office is in Shoreditch. The registered company number is 07209813 and the full registered address is 6th Floor, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, England, E1 6JJ.
Financial intermediation is what Wise cites as the nature of the business model, according to company records. Outside of the UK, Wise has branches and subsidiaries in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.
The following are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Wise Group:
Wise operates in multiple markets and in each one it is authorised and regulated by the following governing bodies:
Wise is required to excise its fiduciary duty with respect to client funds and the aforementioned regulatory authorities ensure this duty is upheld. Client funds are stored in UK Barclays bank accounts, which is considered a low-risk financial institution.
Wise also has raised funds from both consortiums and individuals investors including:
It would appear the investment community has a great deal of confidence in Wise and, looking at the 10 million customers currently served by the company, it is not hard to see why this international money transfer brand is widely trusted.
Wise has made a big impression since appearing on the scene in 2010. They have forged a name for themselves and become the biggest money transfer platform in the UK, with a fiercely loyal customer base.
Wise has acquired more than 114,000 reviews on TrustPilot and 94% of these reviews voted them “Excellent” or “Great” with common comments referring to Wise as reliable, easy, convenient and secure. Of the 5% of users branding the service “Poor” or “Bad” comments cite unexpected delays or accounts which were closed for undisclosed security reasons.
Generally, Wise has garnered an excellent reputation, gaining the trust of customers around the world which is reflected in the reviews posted online. So much so, it was reported approximately 70% of Wise users chose to use the service as a result of personal recommendations. This demonstrates Wise pays special attention to their customers.
The company also received a TÜV-certification in Germany after having passed rigorous customer satisfaction inspections.
Sending money with Wise is quick and easy, you will need the recipient’s bank details, a valid proof of identification and your payment details. In addition to these things, it pays off to have a rough idea of the mid-market exchange rate for your currency pairing.
Step 1. Sign up for a Wise account
If this is your first time using Wise, register for your free Wise by clicking “Register” on the app or website, and entering your personal details; full name, email address and country of residence. Whether you are an Android or iPhone user, the Wise app is available to download for free.
If you already have a Wise account, simply select Log In and enter your account details.
Step 2. Verify your account
As part of Wise’s security measures, you will be sent a verification code via email, after signing up for an account. Simply follow the clickable email link and enter your security code, and you are ready to send your first Wise money transfer.
Step 3. Enter the amount
Once you have successfully set up your account and are logged in, the process of transferring money to your recipient is achieved by completing the 5 following sections: Amount, You, Recipient, Review and Pay.
On the Amount page, you will be asked “How much would you like to transfer?” Select the amount you want to send, in your chosen currency, and enter the currency your recipient will receive the money in.
Depending on how you want to work it out, enter the amount you wish to send to your recipient. You can review the transfer fees, exchange rate, transfer speed and how long the quote is held for, at this step.
Step 4. Enter the recipient information
At the next stage you will be required to enter the details of your recipient.
If you are sending money to a previous recipient, you will be able to select the name from the “existing recipients” section.
When entering a new recipient, you will be asked to enter the full name of the account holder and provide their IBAN number or account number.
Step 5. Review your money transfer in full
This step allows users to review the details of their international money transfer, before sending the payment. On this page you will be presented with the following details:
If everything is as you expected, you will be asked to click the big green button at the bottom of the page: “Confirm and continue”
Step 6. Selecting your chosen payment method
It is at this point that users will be asked to choose from the 3 types of transfers offered by Wise, as outlined earlier in this review:
When you have selected the transfer type and payment method, you can select “continue to payment” and enter your payment details.
Step 7. Track the status of your money transfer
Customers are given the option to monitor the status of their money transfer by using the Wise app or notifications sent via email. Most international money transfers are completed within the same day, depending on the destination, and some payments take up to 7 days to be deposited.
It is possible to receive funds via your Wise account, much like an ordinary bank account. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1. Select the currency you wish to receive funds in
Open a new balance to choose the currency you are due to receive money. This can be done via the homepage of the website or using the Wise mobile app.
Step 2. Find your account details
If this is the first time you are searching for your account details, you will find them via “Get account details” once you have opened a new balance.
Step 3. Share your account details
Safely and securely share your account information with the individual or business who will be sending you money.
Step 4. Receive payment directly into your account balance
The money will reflect in your account balance and can be converted into other currencies from there, if required. There is currently no limit to how much you can receive via your Wise account, unless it is USD. Wise does not accept cash or cheque payments.
Different fees apply when withdrawing or sending money from your Wise balances, depending on the currency and country in question. Further information about these costs can be found here.
The Wise mobile app can be downloaded for free on iOS or Android. According to reviews, the app is easy to navigate and intuitively designed. With 4.1 out of 5 stars from over 111,230 reviews on Google Play Store and 4.8 stars with more than 38,500 reviews on App Store, it seems a large majority of Wise customers opt to access their services via this money transfer app.
Depending on the stage your transfer is at, you may be able to cancel it via the activity tab of your online account. Below are the possible scenarios.
It is always important to double-check your transfer before clicking the ‘Send’ button. Some actions cannot be reversed.
Wise typically ranks highly when compared to its competitors and regularly makes it into many Top 10 Money Transfer Companies lists compiled by reputable websites around the world. Curious to see how the company fares when compared directly to its competitors? Check out some of our comparison guides here.
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