Launched in 2011, Wise helps individuals and businesses hold over 50 currencies, transfer money between countries, and spend money abroad.
Worldwide, around 11 million people and businesses use Wise, which processes more than £6 billion in cross-border transactions every month. London-based Wise entered India in June last year and linked up with RBL Bank, allowing Indians to send money overseas. In an email interview
Diane Avila, Global Head of Banking and Expansion, Wise, discusses money transfers, cryptocurrencies and other issues. Edited excerpts:
Blockchain-based cryptocurrency platforms offer a frictionless way to transfer money. Although regulation remains a challenge for them. But do you think traditional platforms like Wise will lose their edge if users switch to cryptocurrency transfers?
It is interesting to see the different ways in which this technology is deployed by different players around the world. Today, a majority of people still need to convert between fiat currencies and crypto, and these people experience unnecessary friction and fees in the process, which means there are limits to usage. crypto rails today because the costs are often prohibitive. This is where Wise can address some of these challenges and we remain focused on reducing fees every time people move money around the world.
How do you see the UPI platform in India and the rise of digital payments here?
The innovation and growth we’re seeing here, especially in payments, is very exciting. India is home to one of the most connected populations, and people are comfortable accessing digital financial services through their phones.
As a result, digital payments have really taken off, registering 30% growth in fiscal year 2021 according to data from the Reserve Bank of India. Clearly, consumers are driving the demand for seamless payment experiences.
Staying on this thread, India is one of the most forward-thinking countries in the world when it comes to instant payments thanks to UPI, the real-time payment rails that meet what consumers expect from their payments: fast , practical and at a low price. Cost. This is in line with our mission to make cross-border payments instant, and we are constantly looking for ways to directly integrate real-time rails like these so that we can offer customers fast, cheap and convenient international transactions.
What new products and services does Wise offer users in India? What are your expansion plans?
We first launched transfers to India in 2013 as one of our first currencies in Asia. There is a huge Indian population overseas and we have since enabled US Google Pay users to send money to Google Pay users in India.
Last year, after strong customer demand, we launched our services from India. We plan to establish a significant presence in India as we grow and want to be able to do two things: one, continue to make transferring money from India even faster, easier and cheaper , – we have already started to do this by lowering prices on some routes as more people join Wise, allowing us to pass these savings on to customers.
The second thing we are currently working on from a product perspective is to bring more of our products and services to India, including our multi-currency account and debit card, to help freelancers, international students going abroad as well than expats to manage their money in a much better way.
We are also growing our team on the ground in India and I work closely with Rashmi Satpute who is our country manager in Mumbai.
What is Wise’s USP? What advantages does it offer compared to other platforms?
One of the key things that sets Wise apart from any other money transfer provider in India is the transparency of our pricing. We don’t charge any exchange rate markups or other hidden costs, so our customers only pay one upfront fee, and the exchange rate they pay is the mid-market rate as quoted on Google/Reuters.
We are transparent because we want to make sure customers get a fair deal. In cases where we are not the cheapest supplier, we also inform our customers of this via the price comparison calculator on our homepage.
Do you host user data locally in the countries where you operate? In India, do you have local servers?
Data localization is something we see in different parts of the world 一 our approach is to work with regulators to understand what the purpose of data localization is, and then work with them to make sure we comply with regulations , wherever we operate.