Founders Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus originally concocted the Wise (formerly TransferWise) business model as a solution to the problems they were facing when transferring money overseas to manage their personal finances. Born out of 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.
Since launching in 2011, the motive behind Wise has continuously evolved. 10 years and 11 million customers later, it is now one of the leading international money transfer platforms in the world.
Due to their exponential growth, Wise has been able to identify the requirements of a vast customer base, adapting to meet the diverse needs of users around the world. CEOs Kristo and Taavet have pledged to take on banking next, by building an alternative international infrastructure to suit individuals and businesses underserved and misunderstood by traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
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 continues to live up to these expectations.
In a bid to make money transfers more affordable, Wise provides total transparency when it comes to exchange rates and the company’s pledge to match the mid-market rate is well documented across multiple channels.
According to our research, the Wise FX widget presents exchange rates identical to the live mid-market, as seen on XE, for all major currencies. The only currencies that incur a small mark-up are the less commonly traded, exotic currencies of remote countries. Unlike most major banks, who add percentage-based mark-ups onto foreign exchange, Wise does not determine a profit based on the sending amount. Instead, on average, Wise exchange rate mark-ups will rarely exceed 0.5% above the interbank rate. This competitive rate is very low compared to the 4 -6 % foreign exchange spread applied to international bank transfers.
It is easy to identify these fees as they are clearly displayed via the Wise widget throughout the process of arranging an international money transfer. This widget can be found on the homepage of the website as well as on the home screen of the Wise mobile app, displaying 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 a profit. This being said, the fees are minute compared to bank fees and will be 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. Read our simple guide to help you find the cheapest ways to send money abroad.
Other costs may apply depending on the country, currency and amount being sent or received with Wise. Visit the Pricing Page on the Wise website to learn more.
Wise charges a small fixed fee per transaction, regardless of the transfer amount and the payment method used. However, the variable fee that goes along with it can bump up the cost of each transaction.
The variable fee largely depends on the transfer method. For instance, sending EUR to India may incur a 0.92% variable fee under Fast Transfer while the same amount but in AED (United Arab Emirates dirhams) is slightly higher at 3.56% since the available transfer methods for sending dirhams is only debit and credit card.
Still, Wise transfer fees are competitive compared to other money transfer providers but may fall behind certain companies like XE and Currencies Direct that don’t charge transfer fees at all. Wise compensates for this with its mid-market rate promise, which significantly lowers the overall cost of transfers.
Wise headquarters is located in the heart of London’s financial district, alongside The Stock Exchange and the Bank of England. Outside of the UK, Wise has offices 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 61 destination countries, from 43 sending countries, covered by over 1,000 transfer routes and country combinations. The mid-market rate is applied to all 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 our users can compare the company’s services to other providers as well as banks:
Wise divides offer 3 types of transfers, the details differing from country to country, but each being a safe and secure option. For instance, the types of transfer available when sending money from the UK include:
Before initiating your money, the fees associated with each transfer type will be displayed for your convenience. When it comes to sending money transfers Wise does not employ a minimum amount, but there is a limit to how much money 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 11 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 134,000 reviews on TrustPilot and 93% 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.
To sign up for an account with Wise, you first need to provide your email address, a password, and your country of residence. You can also choose to register with your Apple, Google, or Facebook account. After that, you will have to verify your account using a valid ID, proof of address, and a picture of you holding your ID. This process takes approximately two to three working days to complete.
Here are some examples of valid IDs that Wise accepts:
And the valid proof of address are the following:
If you’re sending amounts over £80,000, Wise might require that you present additional documentary evidence to show how you obtained the money.
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.
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.
The Wise money transfer app was launched in 2013, a few years after the company launched, becoming the world’s first peer-to-peer money transfer app. At the time of writing (May 2021) over 10 million users send money overseas with Wise, taking advantage of their pledge to guarantee all foreign exchange rates matches the “real” mid-market rate.
The app is free to download from the Google Play or App Store and is compatible with all iOS and Android devices.
Yes, the Wise business model has been developed to facilitate overseas payments to international bank accounts across the globe. Wise customers can send money to 71 destination countries, from 43 sending countries, offering over 1,000 transfer routes and country combinations.
In this section we will review the overall performance of the Wise app, looking at its accessibility and appearance to find out if the platform measures up to competitors’ offerings.
User interface – The Wise app is designed to be aesthetically identical to the website, therefore making the platform feel familiar and easy to navigate. Arranging a money transfer through the app is easily achievable for users of all ages; displayed in clear and concise steps.
Speed and bugs – Our experience of using the Wise app was swift and efficient, without any hiccups. However, some customer reviews mention bugs and issues with recent updates of the app. The company has responded to these reviews by stating: “we fixed some bugs and made improvements to make the app work better.” (May 2021)
Money transfers can be arranged with the tap of a few buttons thanks to this intuitive app. In this section we provide a step by step guide on how to move your money from A to B, using this convenient platform.
Step 1. Open up the Wise app, log into your account and tap the Send button on the home screen. Select from the International or Local options at the top of the screen.
Step 2. Select the currencies you need for your money transfer: enter the amount in the You Send box at the top to find out how much your Recipient Gets in the box below. By clicking on See Details you will be able to view the exchange rate, estimated delivery time and total savings: Wise gives you the option to compare their price with other competitors. If you are happy with this information, click Continue to proceed.
Step 3. The next step will ask you to Add A New Recipient and enter the Reason For Your Transfer; you can select a reason from the drop-down options, then click Continue.
Step 4. You will be asked How do you want to Pay? With the following options available: bank transfer, debit card, credit card or using funds available in your Wise account. Fees will vary depending on the chosen payment type.
Step 5. Once you have made your payment, you will be taken to the confirmation screen which will display the expected delivery time of your money transfer. Both parties will be notified via email once the funds have been deposited and are available in the recipient’s account.
Step 1. Open the app and log into your Wise account. Your available funds will be categorised by currency and organised into different account balances: you will need open a balance in the currency you want to receive money in. Select this account and tap Account Details to view your personal details.
Step 2. You will need to share these account details with the person who is sending you a money transfer. Make sure you double check the account details to ensure the funds will be deposited to the right account.
Step 3. Once the money transfer request has been submitted, most Wise customers report the funds have been deposited into their account balance within 2 – 3 working days.
For new customers, sending their first money transfer through the Wise app may take 5 – 10 minutes. After that, we expect most customers spend under 5 minutes arranging money transfers, due to the familiarity of the process.
In terms of delivery speed, this will be determined by the type of money transfer, destination country, the size of the transfer and how it has been paid for. According to user feedback, most transfers made using the app take less than 2 days to arrive with the recipient.
To add funds to your Wise account balance you will need to log into your online banking and arrange a bank transfer using your Wise account details.
Click on the relevant currency balance you would like to add funds to, and take down the account details. You must ensure the same currency is used to top up your Wise currency balance. For example, if you want to add Australian Dollars to your AUD Wise currency balance, you will need to send money in AUD from a bank account.
At the time of writing (May 2021) the Wise app has been reviewed by thousands of customers. On the Google Play Store over 121,000 reviews have been logged, resulting in an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5. Less iOS customers have provided feedback on the App Store, but from the 38,000 reviews the Wise app has been ranked 4.8 out of 5, which is an excellent rating.
Positive feedback includes comments about huge savings, excellent design and quick and easy results. Negative reviews mention a disliking of updated versions of the app and a time-consuming security verification process.
You can reach the company’s customer support staff through email, phone, or live chat. These options are available upon logging in to your account. One positive aspect of Wise’s customer support is that it is available in multiple languages since Wise maintains a number of global offices.
You can also contact a member of Wise’s team through its social media accounts, namely Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to transfer your Wise transfer:
If your money has not yet been converted, you can still cancel the transfer. Here’s how to do it:
It is always important to double-check your transfer before clicking the ‘Send’ button. Some actions cannot be reversed.
Wise is an excellent choice for sending large transactions at minimal exchange rate costs. It remains a cheaper alternative to banks and some other money transfer companies. And it is also a secure way of transferring funds due to the extra measures it takes to ensure the safety of its client’s funds. However, its most significant drawbacks are its duration to complete a transaction which is longer than other providers, and the limited number of countries it supports.
The following are key questions about Wise services:
April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she’s not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.