The British Are Coming: TransferWise Sets up Shop in Singapore
After shaking things up in the West, TransferWise, the U.K.-based money transfer giant, is now setting its sights on Asia.
TransferWise Ltd., the London-based startup backed by investors including Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, is bringing its international money transfer service to Singapore, aiming to shake up banks’ dominance of the market.
The move will allow consumers in Singapore to transfer money overseas at a much lower cost than using banks. According to TechCrunch, TransferWise scraps hidden fees – the type banks typically disguise with sub-market exchange rates – and offers near-market exchange rates. Deal Street Asia meanwhile reports that the firm charges a relatively tiny 0.5 to 1% fee.
This will be the seven-year-old company’s first foray into Asia despite making a name for itself in Europe and the U.S. TransferWise co-founder and CEO Taavet Hinrikus, who incidentally was Skype’s first employee, told TechCrunch that the firm is also in the midst of expanding into Hong Kong and has India and China high on its agenda too, adding that the company is “looking to see what’s possible” there.
At any rate, TransferWise’s Singapore landing opens itself to a whole new and potentially profitable client base: migrant workers.
While TransferWise does has a reputation for catering to professionals, Hinrikus said the firm is keen to extend its reach to migrant workers and others in the global remittance market, which is particularly strong in Southeast Asian markets like Singapore and the Philippines, not to mention Hong Kong.
“We don’t like to discriminate between developed or developing countries. It’s all the same: people who want to transfer money between countries,” he said.
Photo: Jimmy McIntyre