Sir Richard Branson invests in ‘anti-bank’ start-up TransferWise



Financial technology business TransferWise has successfully attracted $25m (£14m) in fundraising from both sides of the Atlantic – as well as support from a number of high-profile investors.

The firm which was set up in 2011, is an increasingly popular alternative money transferring system that allows currency to be transferred overseas without a high charge for its services.

In comparison to high-street banks, which charge through high percentage rates, TransferWise retains a low, consistent charge of usually 0.5%.

New investors include Valar Ventures, the venture capital firm set up by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur who founded the Virgin Group.

TransferWise was established by executive chairman Taavey Hinrikus and CEO Kristo Kaarmann. Hinrikus was a lead employee at internet communications business Skype and has built the company to its already financially impressive position – having transferred over £1 billion and achieved savings of £45m in banking fees for customers.

Hinrikus says, “We are truly honoured to have Sir Richard Branson join Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, IA Ventures and Index Ventures to back our mission to stomp out hidden bank fees and make the world of money transfers a fairer place. 

“This new investment and faith in our business is concrete affirmation that our new campaign for transparency is really taking grip.”

Research carried out by TransferWise details misleading advertisements by banks for transferring money internationally – claiming 0% charges yet actually charging in excess of 30%.

Branson in particular has seen foreign currency exchange as a key investment opportunity, investing in BitPay – Bitcoin’s foreign exchange processor – adding how it has been “ripe for destruction for decades”.

TransferWise now has 100 staff and 234 currency routes. The business is predicting growth of between 20-30% a month.

Picture source: Jeff Rizzo via flickr

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The Guide to Sustainable Philanthropy 2014


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