TransferWise Caps Currency Trades Ahead of Brexit Vote

  • Customers advised to make transactions in British pounds soon
  • Company expects normal transfer operations to resume Friday

TransferWise, the popular London startup that allows customers to make inexpensive international money transfers, has urged customers to make any transactions involving British pounds today or wait until after tomorrow’s vote on the U.K.’s continued membership in the European Union. 

The company will restrict its users’ ability to make transactions using pounds tomorrow because of the vote, the company advised existing customers via e-mail. Transfers into pounds will not be allowed from 7 a.m. Thursday and any transfer out of pounds to another currency will be blocked from 6 p.m. It will also cancel all transactions that are arranged but not settled before 8 p.m. Thursday. 

The company anticipates resuming normal operation on Friday but said it would review the situation throughout the day.

"We’re doing what we can to avoid customer payments set up prior to the referendum being negatively affected by the referendum outcome and predictions of the outcome throughout the day," TransferWise spokeswoman Jo White said in an e-mail.

The concern, White said, is that customers who do not lock in a rate may actually see the figure they receive differ markedly from an estimation due to big price swings throughout the day.

TransferWise, which according to October 2015 figures handles about five percent of all international money transfers from the U.K., allows customers to either lock in the mid-market foreign exchange rate at the time they set up a transaction, or to accept whatever the rate is when the transfer is completed.

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