THE EXCHANGE FACTOR
how the two guys who founded Transferwise got the idea from their own genius hack for transferring money without the crazy fees
As a fintech with a minimal marketing budget, how do you make a splash in a huge country like America? This was the dilemma the money transfer company TransferWise faced when they decided to take the start-up – co-founded by a former Skype employee – stateside.
The solution? They organised for one hundred TransferWise employees, customers, and a few paid extras to walk, run and dance along Wall Street – without any clothes on.
“The first time we did anything like that stunt was back in London when we launched,” says Joe Cross, employee number 10 at the company, and head of TransferWise’s North American expansion. “It was summer in London and it wasn’t too bad. But in New York, it was the coldest February in 80 years. We left our underpants on, thank god.”
The resulting video, #Nothing2Hide, has been watched more than 50,000 times on YouTube and made headlines internationally, even appearing on Good Morning America. Most importantly, it spread an important message about a company dedicated to transparency.
When Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann launched TransferWise in 2011, they were frustrated by the amount that banks were charging for international money transfers, especially as many hid these fees from customers.
Taavet had worked for Skype Estonia, so was paid in euros, but he was living in London. Kristo earned pounds working in London, but had a mortgage in euros back in Estonia. They devised a simple scheme. Each month, the pair checked that day’s mid-market rate on Reuters to find a fair exchange rate. Kristo put pounds into Taavet’s UK bank account, while Taavet topped up his friend’s
Naked PROTESTS, open letters, and a conscious campaign AGAINST Donald Trump. How one fintech CHANGED how we transfer money – by removing the ‘WRONGNESS’ from banking.