If you make money in euros and spend it in pounds (or the other way around) you’ll know banks can charge an arm and a leg for foreign money transfers – even when they claim there are ‘no fees’. Enter: TransferWise, a peer-to-peer international money transfer business that has transfered over £50m since it started two years ago, saving their customers £2.5m in bank fees.
TransferWise’s founders, fellow Estonians Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Kaarmann came upon the idea while hanging out as expats in London. At the time, Taavet worked for Skype in Estonia, so was paid in euros, but lived in London. Whereas Kristo worked in London, but owned a house in Tallinn. They found that they had the opposite currency requirements, so they started to exchange money among themselves at the actual mid-market rate (that’s the exchange rate you see in the papers, not the inflated rate you’ll be offered by your bank). They quickly realised they’d saved a fortune by not moving the money across borders and that perhaps it could be a big business idea. A few years later, with several thousands of pounds saved, TransferWise was born.