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TransferWise joins US invasion with debit card launch

The London-based fintech, along with a basket of European rivals, bids for growth in the world’s biggest market.

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Foreign exchange firm TransferWise has become the latest European-based fintech to launch in the US.

The London-based unicorn - a start up valued at more than $1bn - began running a multi-currency account and a debit Mastercard in the world’s largest consumer market this week.

The move comes as UK digital banking rival Monzo prepares for an imminent American launch, while earlier this month Maximilian Tayenthal, the co-founder of app-only bank N26, said the Berlin-based outfit will begin trading in the US  in the “coming weeks”. Profitable British business digital bank OakNorth plans to launch US operations in the second half of this year.

The TransferWise US account, promoted by Netflix Queer Eye star Tan France (pictured), allows customers to spend, hold, and convert between 40 different currencies with one card. 

Multi-currency card

The firm adds its card is up to six times cheaper to take out cash from ATMs in other countries. For US cardholders, the debit card can be used with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. 

The TransferWise card follows the debit card it launched in the UK and Europe in April 2018. It says cardholders have made more than 15 million transactions and deposited over $10bn on its European card to date.

TransferWise co-founder and chairman Taavet Hinrinkus, said: "Our goal is to offer bank details for every country in the world through one borderless account — the world’s first global account.”

TransferWise, founded in 2011, became Europe’s most valuable fintech, valuing the firm at $3.5bn last month, after sealing a $292m funding round.

Asian launch

This latest cash call was led by venture capital firms Lead Edge Capital, Lone Pine Capital and Vitruvian Partners. The round also saw existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Baillie Gifford up their stake in the business.

The firm said it would use the cash to launch in the US and Asia this year and boost global staff numbers by almost 50 per cent.

TransferWise employs around 1,600 staff across 12 offices across the world, and plans to hire more than 750 extra workers over the next 12 months.

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Maximilian Tayenthal

Co-Founder and CFO


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