TransferWise: A FinTech Unicorn Perfect for a Data-Driven Product Manager

Transferwise May 28, 2016

If you are one of my followers at Twitter, you should note that I love what TransferWise is doing in the FinTech space, particularly the $454 Billion remittance market.

I’m always reading the news about the FinTech market, because the industry is in a very excited time with organizations like Affirm (installment loans), Xapo (Bitcoin Wallet & Vault), RobinHood (Free stock trading), the fierce competition among Wealthfront, Betterment, SigFig & Vanguard to control the ETF Funds investment market.

Why TransferWise is building something unique

But, when I began to read the Zoe Henry’s article at Inc about the last news related to TransferWise last fund raising ($26 Million, which makes a total funding of $116.37 Million for a 1.1 Billion valuation); I thought: “This is serious” because they announced something unique and bold focused in the global expansion:

The company says that about 40 percent of its U.S. transfers in the last year have been made by small businesses. Starting this week, TransferWise is making a push to divert U.K. startups away from high street lenders, offering rates that are seven times cheaper than their current providers. Hinrikus has said that the small business market could, ultimately, overtake the consumer one.

Did you read the last part? Taavet Hinrikus, one of the co-founders and Co-CEO of the company, said they are targeting the huge global Small Business market, and he strongly think this market could overtake the B2C market.

I’m totally agree with this thought, because when I made my own research about the global stats of Small Businesses, I saw this market is in steady growth and they are an important part of the local economy in many countries.

If you read the words of Nilan Peiris (VP of Growth at TransferWise) about why they want to help to Small Businesses with its money transfer headaches, this make sense:

“SMEs make-up 99% of all UK businesses — they’re the engine of the UK economy. Despite the banks saying that they support these companies and their growth, the reality is that behind the scenes they’re happy to give SMEs a poor deal with hidden exchange rate charges. In fact, Lloyds Bank recently admitted adding undisclosed charges to overseas transfers made by its ‘less sophisticated’ SME clients. That just isn’t fair and we wanted to do something about it.We’ve listened to what businesses want, and created a tailored, easy-to-use product for businesses with fast registration, easy reporting and dedicated business customer support teams. We’re excited to be able to offer SMEs a fairer, cheaper, faster alternative for international money transfer.”

A Data-Driven Approach to Global Expansion

If you keep reading Zoe’s article at Inc., you will see that they want to expand the business in key countries: Singapore, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Did you think this is a casuality? No, my friend. This is a based in the recent global statistics related to Small Businesses:

  • In the global ranking for Ease to doing business, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong are the Top 3
  • Canada is the 16th country in the Ease of doing business ranking. Source: Doing Business Report 2015,World Bank Group
  • Brazil’s 6.3 million small and micro enterprises contribute about 20% of Brazil’s GDP and employ 60 million people or 56% of the urban workforce in the formal sector.
  • 27% of GDP (gross domestic product) is generated by Small Businesses in New Zealand
  • In Hong Kong, Small Businesses accounted for over 98% of the total business units and provide job opportunities to over 1.3 Million persons, about 47% of total employment
  • More than 99% of all businesses in Japan are small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); they also employ a majority of the working population and account for a large proportion of economic output.

Why TransferWise is perfect for a Data-Driven Product Manager

Always, when I cover a particular company, I always share some jobs they have open in their respective sites with some tips to make a good application. TransferWise has an amazing culture code, and some of the management team have written about this important topic.

For example, Taavet wrote in his LinkedIn’s profile an interesting post called “Why culture is key to growth” where he highlighted some key points about TransferWise’s culture is critical for them:

As a company grows, the challenge of sustaining the culture is multiplied. The big advantage we have is that TransferWise was founded with a clear mission at its heart: to make the world of finance fairer. Everyone is inspired by that mission, pulling in the same direction to make our product and service the best they can be for the customer.

One of my favorite parts of the post is this one:

At TransferWise, at the core of our culture are our four values:- Customers > Team >Ego
- We get it done
- No drama, good karma
- This isn’t just a job, it’s a revolution
And it’s those four values that are the focus and that guide the whole team’s behaviour.

Nilan wrote about this topic too, in two posts called “We inspire smart people and we trust them” and “Mission Driven Startups”. In the first one, he wrote this:

At TransferWise we run autonomous, independent teams. Each team is trying to learn what matters to our customers. We measure our progress on doing this with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs measure how good of a job we are doing at keeping our customers happy and as a consequence drive our growth.Running in autonomous independent teams is the only way we’ve found to build an organisation that hires smart people and trusts them. It’s part of the reason why we’ve been able to scale as quickly as we have — from 60 people a year ago to over 280 people today — and part of the reason thousands of customers trust us every day to move their money.
Why do we believe this works? We’ve found other organisational structures are too dependent on “wise people” at the top of the organisation chart. These people are quite far away from customers and very far away from making changes to our product, feel “accountable” for numbers and inevitably become a bottleneck.

In the second one, this part makes a strong point about Mission-Driven startups:

Mission driven startups go further. They have a cause, a wrong in the world they are passionate about resolving. This purpose motivates them beyond their own short term commercial success. They are grounded in not only creating a positive change for their customers but for the world.

And then, he highlighted the part of Mission-Driven founders:

Mission Driven founders aren’t motivated by making a billion. They don’t start by writing a business plan or with the exit in mind; they are inspired by solving a problem they are passionate about. At TransferWise — it was losing 5% of the value of their money every time they transferred money internationally that motivated Taavet and Kristo.

If you visit, their Careers site, you will see they actively looking for Product people. Even, they put a video talking with Lars Trunin and Graham Paterson (he is not with the company already), two of the Product Management team at TransferWise:

Do you want some tips? Read my tweets about:



So, if you really want to change the world, a money transfer at a time, In encourage you to apply for a job at TransferWise; like they said:

This isn’t just a job. It’s a revolution.

Marcos Ortiz Valmaseda

Editor at The Panda Way, where I help companies to earn more income through #investing. Cloud Data Engineer in the morning at Grupo Intercorp