Wise PLC, previously known as TransferWise, is a financial technology company focused on global money transfers. Headquartered in London, it was founded by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus in January 2011.[3][4][5][6] As of 2023, it offers three main products: Wise Account, Wise Business, and Wise Platform.[2]

Wise PLC
Type of businessPublic company
Traded asLSEWISE
FoundedJanuary 2011; 13 years ago (2011-01)
United Kingdom
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Area served70+ countries [1]
Founder(s)Taavet Hinrikus, Kristo Käärmann
ChairmanTaavet Hinrikus
CEOKristo Käärmann
IndustryFinancial services
ServicesForeign exchange, remittance
Revenue£846 million (March 2023)[2]
Operating income£157.2 million (March 2023)[2]
Profit£114.0 million (March 2023)[2]
Total assets£11,904 million (March 2023)[2]
Total equity£576.9 million (March 2023)[2]
Employees4411 (March 2023)[2]
URLwise.com Edit this at Wikidata


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

Wise was cofounded in London by Taavet Hinrikus, one of the first employees of Skype,[7] and Kristo Käärmann, a Deloitte management consultant.

Hinrikus moved from Estonia to London around 2006, when he began experiencing the challenges of international money transfers. He became aware that when sending money between Estonia and the UK, banks would typically deduct at least a 5% fee. He noted that what’s even more upsetting is how banks do it – most of the charge is hidden in the exchange rate. According to him, banks try hard to make it extremely difficult to understand what the consumer is paying for, and there is no transparency in the market. [8]

The company's system has been compared to the hawala money transfer system.[9][10][11][12]

In its first year of operation, transactions through Wise amounted to €10 million.[13] In 2012, Wise was named 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.[14][15][16][17]

In April 2013, Wise stopped letting users purchase Bitcoin, citing pressure from banking providers.[18][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.[19]

In May 2015, Wise was ranked No. 8 on CNBC's 2015 Disruptor 50 list,[20] and in August 2015, the company was named a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer.[21]

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.[22] Also in April 2017, the company announced the opening of its APAC hub in Singapore.[23] In 2019, the company announced opening an office in Brussels.[24] In May 2017, the company announced its customers were sending over £1 billion every month using the service,[25] and that the company had turned profitable six years after being founded.[26]

On 21 January 2021, Sky News reported that Wise had appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as joint global coordinators for its planned initial public offering.[27] On 22 February 2021, the company rebranded from TransferWise to Wise.[28][29][30] As part of this rebranding, the company also launched a new website domain.[28] The company rebranded to reflect its expanded product offering beyond international money transfer.[31]

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.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34] He would remain on the list for 12 months, starting in September 2021. He reportedly failed to pay £720,000 for the 2017–2018 tax year.[35]

In 2023, the founders, Käärmann and Hinrikus, have improved their positions in The Sunday Times Rich List 2023 of the wealthiest people in the UK. Käärmann, ranked as 156th, being worth £1.134 billion and Hinrikus ranked 197th with a net worth of £861 million.[36]



Wise offers three products: Wise Account, Wise Business, and Wise Platform. Wise is not a bank, as it states it does not lend out customer money to others.[37] However, it offers accounts through Wise Account for customers to hold their money while sending, receiving, and spending.[2] Customers may opt-in to earn interest on the account and gain FDIC insurance on up to $250,000 of their deposit, relying on Wise's partnership with banks.[37] Wise Business allows businesses to perform cross-border money transfers. Wise Platform is a platform allowing "banks and businesses to offer their customers fast, cheap and transparent ways to manage their money across borders".[2]

As of 2023, Wise partners with BlackRock for its interest bearing accounts.[38]



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.[39] Wise also received investment after being named one of Seedcamp 2011's winners.[40]

In May 2013, it was announced that Wise had secured a $6 million investment round led by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures.[41] Wise raised a further $25 million in June 2014, adding Richard Branson as an investor.[42]

In January 2015, it was announced that Wise had raised a $58 million Series C round, led by investors Andreessen Horowitz.[43] 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.[44]

In November 2017, the company raised a $280 million Series E led by Old Mutual Global Investors and Institutional Venture Partners, as well as Sapphire Ventures, Japanese Mitsui & Co., and World Innovation Lab.[45]

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.[46]

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.[47]



In May 2016, Wise's claim "you save up to 90% against banks" was called misleading by the UK Advertising Standards Authority.[48]

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.[49]

Wise used to be a preferred service for Ukrainian nationals to transfer cash, especially after the Russian invasion of 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.[50][51]

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.[52][53]


  1. ^ "About Us - Wise Platform". Wise Platform. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Wise 2023 Annual Reports and Accounts" (PDF).
  3. ^ "About Wise". Wise. 4 December 2023. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  4. ^ Bryant, Martin (23 March 2015). "Money may make the world go round, but at what cost?". BBC News. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  5. ^ "TransferWise Steps Toward Banking With Multicurrency Account". Bloomberg.com. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  6. ^ Bryant, Martin (26 January 2015). "TransferWise valued at bn by top Silicon Valley venture capital fund". The Independent. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Skype's 1st employee: Taavet Hinrikus left Skype & founded TransferWise". YHP. 20 March 2012. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Marco della Cava (18 August 2014). "London's TransferWise aims to disrupt banking". USA Today. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  11. ^ Bennett Voyles (9 September 2015). "Online money transfers and the "Skype" of money". Forbes India. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  12. ^ Leander Bindewald (8 July 2015). "You need never use a bank again. Here's why". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  13. ^ Bryant, Martin (28 February 2012). "Peer-to-peer currency exchange service Transferwise handles $13.4m in its first year". Insider. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  14. ^ Silver, James (8 July 2012). "East London's 20 hottest tech startups". The Guardian.
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  16. ^ "The 2012 Startups 100: revealed". Startups. 6 July 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  17. ^ Taylor, Colleen (March 2012). "5 Startups to Watch from Seedcamp's 2012 US Demo Day". TechCrunch. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
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  20. ^ "Meet the 2015 CNBC Disruptor 50 companies". CNBC. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  21. ^ Barber, Lynsey (5 August 2015). "Four UK firms named tech pioneers by WEF". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
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  27. ^ Kleinman, Mark (21 January 2021). "TransferWise picks banks to spearhead blockbuster flotation". Sky News. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
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  29. ^ Pratty, Freya; Lewin, Amy (22 February 2021). "TransferWise becomes Wise". Sifted. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
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  32. ^ Megaw, Nicholas (2 July 2021). "Wise co-founder Hinrikus to step down as chair within a year". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  33. ^ Ramnarayan, Abhinav; Adinarayan, Thyagaraju (7 July 2021). "Wise valued at $11 billion in record London direct listing". Reuters.
  34. ^ "Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Investigation into Kristo Käärmann". London Stock Exchange. 27 June 2022. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  35. ^ Jolly, Jasper (27 June 2022). "FCA investigates Wise co-founder after tax default". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  36. ^ Hankewitz, Sten (21 May 2023). "Estonian founders of Wise significantly improve in the Times Rich List 2023". Estonian World. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
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  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ Wise та Revolut для українців всьо? Пояснення. Вересень 2022р., retrieved 19 October 2022
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