The international multi-currency transfer agency, TransferWise, announced Thursday that it had formally requested a license from the National Bank of Belgium for its activities in the European capital. The company plans to open an office in Brussels, making it the company’s tenth international office worldwide.
TransferWise was born from the experience of a former Estonian Skype employee, Taavet Hinrikus, who was hampered by bank charges when transferring currency between the United Kingdom and Estonia. The second co-founder, Kristo Kaarman, was equally faced with the similar problem. The two men developed together a private arrangement through which Taavet Hinrikus put his euros directly into the Estonian Kaarman’s account, and vice versa, in order to both avoid having to pay high fees and exchange rates.
This participatory currency conversion service quickly attracted investors, including PayPal co-founders, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, as well as Richard Branson (Virgin).
Less than 10 years after its creation, the company prides itself in its 4 million customers worldwide, and in serving as a transfer platform for the equivalent of 3 billion euros each month (in 49 currencies), and an economy of one billion euros in annual bank charges.
Brussels will be the 10th office of the London-based company, after New York, Singapore, Tallinn, Budapest, Cherkassy (Ukraine), Tokyo, Sydney and Tampa (Florida, USA).
“Brussels being the source of all European business, the establishment of an office in the city was a logical step for us,” Kristo Kaarman said. “The National Bank of Belgium has made a very good impression, thanks to its knowledge of payments sectors and electronic money, and to its being open to innovation, all while being a solid and reliable supervisor.”
“A Belgian electronic money license will enable us to continue to guarantee a good service offer to all our users worldwide, regardless of the form taken by the Brexit,” the co-founder promises.