By Ryan Browne
TransferWise, the money transfer company that’s taking on Western Union, is valued at $3.5 billion after a new investment round, making it Europe’s most valuable financial technology start-up.
In lowering fees and adding a slick online platform to help consumers move money globally and track their transfers, the London-based company is taking a modern approach to a staid business that’s been dominated by giants like Western Union and MoneyGram.
The company says it’s been pushing for more transparency around the fees banks and currency exchange services charge their customers for transferring money abroad.
“Eight years ago we had a dream, and in a way the whole world was against us,” said TransferWise co-founder and Chairman Taavet Hinrikus in an interview. “And we’ve been able to step by step build the business and also change the environment around us to be much more consumer friendly.”
TransferWise isn’t adding fresh cash to its balance sheet with the investment, but is instead giving employees and early investors the chance to sell some of their stake in a $292 million secondary deal.
European private equity group Vitruvian Partners and U.S. investment firms Lone Pine Capital and Lead Edge Capital bought shares from existing investors, while early investors Andreessen Horowitz and Baillie Gifford increased their holdings in the company. Funds managed by BlackRock also contributed to the round.
“We have been a profitable company for the past two years, we have a significant amount of cash sitting on our balance sheet,” Hinrikus said. “The company does not need any cash.”
TransferWise booked a net profit of £6.2 million ($7.9 million) for the fiscal year ending March 2018, while annual revenue almost doubled to £117 million. The company says it’s signing up 10,000 new business customers a month, and now has 5 million total customers, processing £4 billion in monthly transactions.
The latest fundraising means TransferWise is now the most valuable fintech start-up in Europe, surpassing British digital lender OakNorth, which was last valued at $2.8 billion.
Hinrikus said the company isn’t in a rush to go public.
“While we believe we’ll be a public company eventually, that doesn’t help us do what we want to do in the next couple of years,” he said.
For now, the company is focused on growth. TransferWise currently has more than 1,600 employees worldwide and will hire 750 more over the next 12 months, Hinrikus said.