Wise (company)

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New (2023) Wise logo.png
Type of businessPublic company
Traded asLSEWISE
FoundedJanuary 2011; 12 years ago (2011-01)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Founder(s)Taavet Hinrikus, Kristo Käärmann
ChairmanTaavet Hinrikus
CEOKristo Käärmann
IndustryFinancial services
ServicesForeign exchange, remittance
Revenue£559.9 million (March 2022)[1]
Operating income£48.7 million (March 2022)[1]
Profit£32.9 million (March 2022)[1]
URLwise.com Edit this at Wikidata

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a UK-based foreign exchange financial technology company founded by Estonian businessmen Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus in January 2011.[2][3][4]


Regular money transfer versus peer-to-peer money transfer, as used by Wise

Wise was founded by Taavet Hinrikus (Skype's first employee)[5] and financial consultant Kristo Käärmann. Its system has been compared to the hawala money transfer system.[6][7][8][9]

In its first year of operation, transactions through Wise amounted to €10 million.[10] In 2012, Wise was named as one of "East London's 20 hottest tech startups" by The Guardian, Start-Up of the Week by Wired UK, one of five "start-ups to watch" at Seedcamp's 2012 US Demo Day by TechCrunch, and appeared in Startups.co.uk's list of the top 100 UK start-ups of 2012.[11] [12][13][14]

In April 2013, Wise stopped letting users purchase Bitcoin, citing pressure from banking providers.[15][unreliable source?] Independent comparison site Monito reported that Wise was on average 83% cheaper than the big four UK banks on major currency "routes", but could be up to 90% cheaper in certain specific cases.[16]

In May 2015, Wise was ranked No. 8 on CNBC's 2015 Disruptor 50 list,[17] and in August 2015, the company was named a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer.[18]

On 8 April 2017, an internal memo from British bank Santander claimed the bank would lose 84% of its revenue from its money transfer business if its charges were the same as Wise.[19] Also in April 2017, the company announced the opening of its APAC hub in Singapore.[20] In 2019, the company announced opening an office in Brussels.[21] In May 2017, the company announced its customers were sending over £1 billion every month using the service,[22] and that the company had turned profitable six years after being founded.[23]

On 21 January 2021, Sky News reported that Wise had appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as joint global co-ordinators for its planned initial public offering.[24] On 22 February 2021, the company rebranded from TransferWise to Wise.[25][26][27] As part of this rebranding, the company also launched a new website domain.[25] The company rebranded to reflect its expanded product offering beyond international money transfer.[28]

On 2 July 2021, it was announced in a prospectus published by the company that co-founder Taavet Hinrikus would step down as chair within a year.[29] It was also announced that David Wells would replace him in this position.

On 7 July 2021, Wise went public with a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange, and was valued at $11 billion.[30]

On 27 June 2022, the Financial Conduct Authority reported that the Wise CEO, Kristo Käärmann, was included on their list of individuals and businesses receiving penalties for a deliberate default regarding their tax affairs.[31] He would remain on the list for 12 months from September 2021. He reportedly failed to pay £720,000 for the 2017–2018 tax year.[32]


Wise received seed funding amounting to $1.3 million from a consortium including venture firms IA Ventures and Index Ventures, IJNR Ventures, NYPPE as well as individual investors such as PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, former Betfair CEO David Yu, and Wonga.com co-founder Errol Damelin.[33] Wise also received investment after being named one of Seedcamp 2011's winners.[34]

In May 2013, it was announced that Wise had secured a $6 million investment round led by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures.[35] Wise raised a further $25 million in June 2014, adding Richard Branson as an investor.[36]

In January 2015, it was announced that Wise had raised a $58 million Series C round, led by investors Andreessen Horowitz.[37] In May 2016, Wise secured a funding of $26 million. This raised the company's valuation to $1.1 billion. As of May 2016, Wise has raised a total of $117 million in funding.[38]

In November 2017, the company raised a $280 million Series E led by Old Mutual Global Investors and IVP, as well as Sapphire Ventures, Japanese Mitsui & Co, and World Innovation Lab.[39]

In May 2019, the company had the secondary investment round of $292 million and reached the total valuation of $3.5 billion, more than double the valuation Wise achieved in late 2017 at the time of its $280 million Series E round.[40]

In July 2020, the company disclosed a secondary investment round of $319 million and reached the total valuation of $5 billion, led by new investor D1 Capital Partners and existing shareholder Lone Pine Capital. Vulcan Capital also came on board as a new investor, with Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Investments and LocalGlobe adding to their existing holdings.[41]


In May 2016, Wise's claim "you save up to 90% against banks" was called misleading by the UK Advertising Standards Authority.[42]

In June 2020, after experts raised ethical and privacy concerns around the digital COVID-19 immunity passports Wise was helping develop, the company conceded immunity passports were not a "perfect solution" and co-founder Hinrikus said they would not be launched publicly until there was scientific consensus on COVID-19 immunity.[43]

Wise used to be a preferred service for Ukrainian nationals to transfer cash, especially after the Russian attacks to the country, e.g., for supporting relatives that had to flee Ukraine. While other financial institutions kept their operations for Ukraine residents open, Wise suspended the opening of new accounts.[44][45]

In January 2023 Wise was accused of harming competition in an official letter to the UK Competition and Markets Authority by its competitor Atlantic Money. Wise is said to have removed the cheaper challenger from its international transfers price comparison table for economic reasons. Wise is also alleged to have denied Atlantic Money access to additional comparison sites the firm owns and controls.[46][47]


  1. ^ a b c "2022 Annual Report" (PDF). Wise.
  2. ^ Bryant, Martin (23 March 2015). "Money may make the world go round, but at what cost?". BBC News. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  3. ^ "TransferWise Steps Toward Banking With Multicurrency Account". Bloomberg.com. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  4. ^ Bryant, Martin (26 January 2015). "TransferWise valued at bn by top Silicon Valley venture capital fund". The Independent. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  5. ^ Temperton, James (3 November 2016). "Has Skype lost its way? Taavet Hinrikus reveals what the company taught him". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  6. ^ Price, Rob (27 January 2015). "London's $1 Billion Finance Startup TransferWise Is Just Like An Ancient Islamic Money Transfer System". Business Insider. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  7. ^ Marco della Cava (18 August 2014). "London's TransferWise aims to disrupt banking". USA Today. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  8. ^ Bennett Voyles (9 September 2015). "Online money transfers and the "Skype" of money". Forbes India. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  9. ^ Leander Bindewald (8 July 2015). "You need never use a bank again. Here's why". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  10. ^ Bryant, Martin (28 February 2012). "Peer-to-peer currency exchange service Transferwise handles $13.4m in its first year". Insider. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  11. ^ Silver, James (8 July 2012). "East London's 20 hottest tech startups". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "Startup of the Week: TransferWise". Wired. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  13. ^ "The 2012 Startups 100: revealed". Startups. 6 July 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  14. ^ Taylor, Colleen. "5 Startups to Watch from Seedcamp's 2012 US Demo Day". TechCrunch. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  15. ^ "Bitcoin". transferwise.com. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  16. ^ "TransferWise – Are they that cheap or is it just (inaccurate) advertising?". www.monito.com. Monito. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Meet the 2015 CNBC Disruptor 50 companies". CNBC. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  18. ^ Barber, Lynsey (5 August 2015). "Four UK firms named tech pioneers by WEF". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  19. ^ Collinson, Patrick (8 April 2017). "Revealed: the huge profits earned by big banks on overseas money transfers". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  20. ^ Russell, Jon. "TransferWise moves into Asia Pacific with opening of regional HQ in Singapore | TechCrunch". Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  21. ^ Megaw, Nicholas (10 January 2019). "Brexit drives TransferWise to open Belgian office". www.ft.com. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  22. ^ CNBC.com, Neil Ainger, Writer at (17 May 2017). "Fintech unicorn Transferwise achieves first profit". CNBC. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  23. ^ "TransferWise becomes profitable six years after being founded". BBC News. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  24. ^ Kleinman, Mark (21 January 2021). "TransferWise picks banks to spearhead blockbuster flotation". Sky News. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  25. ^ a b O'Hear, Steve (22 February 2021). "TransferWise rebrands as Wise ahead of an expected IPO". TechCrunch. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  26. ^ Pratty, Freya; Lewin, Amy (22 February 2021). "TransferWise becomes Wise". Sifted. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  27. ^ Musgrove, Annie (22 February 2021). "Transferwise rebrands to Wise". Tech.eu. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  28. ^ "TransferWise becomes Wise". Sifted. 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  29. ^ Megaw, Nicholas (2 July 2021). "Wise co-founder Hinrikus to step down as chair within a year". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  30. ^ Ramnarayan, Abhinav; Adinarayan, Thyagaraju (7 July 2021). "Wise valued at $11 billion in record London direct listing". Reuters.
  31. ^ "Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Investigation into Kristo Käärmann". London Stock Exchange. 27 June 2022. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  32. ^ Jolly, Jasper (27 June 2022). "FCA investigates Wise co-founder after tax default". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  33. ^ Johnson, Bobbie (17 April 2012). "Transferwise unveils Levchin, other superstar backers". Gigaoam. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  34. ^ "TransferWise". Seedcamp. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  35. ^ O'Hear, Steve. "P2P Currency Exchange TransferWise Raises $6M Led By Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures, With Participation From SV Angel, Others". TechCrunch. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  36. ^ O'Hear, Steve. "Now Backed By Sir Richard Branson, TransferWise Raises $25M For Cheaper Money Transfers". TechCrunch. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  37. ^ Price, Rob. "London Cash Startup TransferWise Is Now Worth $1 Billion". BusinessInsider. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  38. ^ O'Hear, Steve. "Money transfer company TransferWise raises further $26M at $1.1B valuation". TechCrunch. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  39. ^ "TransferWise Announces $280M Investment Round as Company Focuses on New Products and APAC Expansion". IVP. 2 November 2017.
  40. ^ "TransferWise now valued at $3.5B following a new $292M secondary round". TechCrunch. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  41. ^ "TransferWise confirms new $5B valuation following $319M secondary share sale". TechCrunch. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  42. ^ "ASA Ruling on TransferWise Ltd". 4 May 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  43. ^ Browne, Ryan (3 June 2020). "Start-ups are racing to develop Covid-19 'immunity passports' — but experts warn they're unethical". CNBC. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  44. ^ Wise та Revolut для українців всьо? Пояснення. Вересень 2022р., retrieved 19 October 2022
  45. ^ Wise, Company (19 October 2022). "Help Centre". Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  46. ^ Browne, Ryan (27 January 2023). "$6.6 billion fintech Wise accused by rival of harming competition". CNBC. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  47. ^ Makortoff, Kalyeena (27 January 2023). "UK fintech firm Wise accused of stifling competition by rival startup". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2023.