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TransferWise eyes digital wealth with new FCA license

Taking on Nutmeg, Wealthify and Moneyfarm, with a £2bn head-start.

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Kristo Käärmann/TransferWise.

International payments giant TransferWise is getting in on the digital wealth management space with the announcement that it has secured an FCA license for regulated investment activities. 

The unexpected move will start with TransferWise offering its 8m customers access to “affordable funds from reputable providers”, helping them to move cash into investments. 

It pits the payments startup against the likes of Nutmeg,MoneyBox, Wealthify and Moneyfarm, albeit with a suitable head start given the £2bn currently sitting in TransferWise’s accounts. 

TransferWise is evolving from being a pure payments provider, to the number one alternative for the banking needs of those living and working between countries,” said CEO and co-founder Kristo Käärmann. 

“With £2 billion in deposits we know that people want to hold their money with TransferWise, so we’re very happy to soon provide a way to make a return on that money.” 

TransferWise’s investment product will be protected by FSCS of a value up to £85,000, however as with all investments, their value can rise and fall. 

TransferWise clearly has ambitions to move beyond payments and into a more full-featured banking service, an ambition it first expressed by offering a debit card and borderless account in 2018. 

By entering digital wealth too, TransferWise’s strategy is now starting to look far more like Revolut’s ‘super-app’ than just ‘payments + banking’. 

Still, many questions remain.  

Questions like, what funds will be available to customers? Will they be ETFs and low-cost trackers, or something more substantial?  

Might TransferWise offer managed funds? Or even develop its own funds run by an investment team?  

Will investments be offered within an ISA? Or just less tax efficient general investment accounts? What about longer-term savings? Or even pensions?

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