TransferWise is just rebranded to Wise now, but beside the name what else had changed? You will find out in this article!
What is Wise in a nutshell?
According to their website, they provide an affordable way for people who move and live abroad, to send and receive money and use these funds across countries.
Lets look at the big elephant in the room!
Taxes, no one likes to pay high taxes and for the majority of the time banks were the monopoly when it comes to sending money abroad. Add the fact that they also keep our money and lend our money to other people, seems like an unfair thing, when they force us to pay them an arm and a leg each time we need to send money abroad.
These circumstances didn’t leave too much room for improvement until this small startup founded by Estonians come to live. By using a clever way to exchange currency on the secondary market and using the real exchange rate, they reduce the fee that you will pay when transferring currency A from bank A and currency B to bank B.
According to them, the banks use a very unfavourable rate during such transactions and the people who lose the most are their customers. In Europe, we have SEPA which is supposed to fix this problem, so EUR to EUR transaction should be in theory cheaper, then sending money from different currencies.
What new Wise is bringing to the table?
The biggest international competitor to Wise at the moment is Revolut. They had bank cards for ages and they promoted them as a free alternative to the traditional banks cards. This put Wise at a disadvantage since more and more people find the convenience in consolidating their accounts. This also helps in carrying fewer stuffs with you. I am a big fan of minimalism and I am sure more and more young people are following this way of living. Knowing this makes perfect sense for Wise to introduce a bank card product. I am still not sure if this will be enough for them to catch up with Revolut, which has twice the number of downloads in Android App Store. It’s hard to analyze their reach with the Apple users since there are no official statistics about it.
Local bank account
The other interesting feature of Wise is the ability to have a local bank account number. This is very convenient when dealing with local government authorities which won’t recognize international accounts and will demand from you a local bank account number.
At the moment, there are plenty of options. You can open a new account in UK, USA, Australia, Singapore, Hungary, Romania, Turkey. This might be a crucial decision for you and a big plus if you chose to use the services of Wise.
Bank card experience
I received my bank card very fast and the entire process was satisfactory. I still think the validation and the verification process to be somehow inconvenient, but this is my overall impression from the competitors as well.
What I really like with Wise is their extra safety feature for activating your card. In competitor services, you just need to go to your app and activate your physical bank card. What Wise had introduced is very neat. There is 6 digit number on your card that you need to fill in, only then you can activate your card. I had read in some forums how people didn’t receive their bank card from a competitor service and somehow they got charged with some purchases. I would assume that they had activated their card by accident even before receiving it and someone got their hands on it and use it without permission.
This little trick solves such a use case.
The card looks extremely ugly. I am not sure why would anyone wants to be seen with this bright green color card. It is my personal and subjective opinion that Wise could have done better in the design of their cards, especially when their competitors are doing so much better job and producing very appealing models. True to be told, I use my watch for paying these days and I rarely bring my card with me, however this is not an excuse for Wise to not step up their game and provide a good and appealing product to their customers.
The quest for replacing the traditional banks is on. The competition is big, but there are two players who take the top spots and those are Revolut and Wise. Wise is catching up by providing to their customers not only the change to send money abroad for less fee, compare to the traditional banks, but also to be able to have a local IBAN number which would help many travelers if they decide to stay for a long time in one place. This is really useful for their future business users.
They should improve the quality of their card, maybe change the green color to something less “eye hurting” and improve their overall user experience when opening new IBAN account.
Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager