Sir Richard Branson leads $25m backing of Transferwise

Startups 100-listed money transfer platform promises to expose hidden bank fees

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Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and other high-profile technology investors today announced a major $25m investment into international money transfer platform Transferwise, set to back a sustained period of growth for the business.

Founded in 2010 by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärman and listed in the 2012 Startups 100, Transferwise was founded as an alternative to traditional international currency exchange platforms, which the start-up claims disguise hidden mark-ups in the exchange rate they offer.

It claims to be the only FX platform with transparency at its core, using the mid-market exchange rate to process its transactions.

Since launch Transferwise has grown to become a leader in the currency exchange sector, having processed more than £1bn of transactions and growing at a rate of around 20-30% a month.

The $25m funding contained input from Branson alongside existing investors including Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Index Ventures and IA Ventures, and brings Transferwise’s total backing since launch to around $33m.

Transferwise said the funds would be used to “raise awareness” of the hidden fees applied to international money transfers elsewhere.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said: “I’m delighted to be investing in such an innovative company as TransferWise. Financial services such as foreign exchange have been ripe for disruption for decades and it’s great to see TransferWise bring transparency to the market.

“It’s encouraging to see entrepreneurs using technology to reinvent the old-fashioned FX industry and make a real difference in the market.

“I see tremendous opportunity for startups like Transferwise to offer breakthrough financial services and products.”

Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of Transferwise, added: “We are truly honoured to have Sir Richard Branson join Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, IA Ventures and Index Ventures to back our mission to stomp out hidden bank fees and make the world of money transfers a fairer place.

“This new investment and faith in our business is concrete affirmation that our campaign for transparency is really taking grip.

“We’re going to use this money to lead the charge against hidden bank fees and expose the problem to a wider audience. It’s outrageous that they can get away with advertising that claims their transfers are ‘fee-free’ despite often taking up to 5% of the money sent through the exchange rate.”

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