TransferWise Raises $280 Million to Fund Expansion in Asia

  • Old Mutual, IVP lead investment round in London fintech
  • Company now valued at $1.6 billion, source familiar said

Taavet Hinrikus

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

TransferWise Ltd., one of Europe’s largest financial technology startups, has raised an additional $280 million to fund its continued expansion, including a big push into Asian markets.

U.S. asset management company Old Mutual Global Investors and Silicon Valley venture capital firm IVP led the investment round in the London-based international money transfer company. This is only the second time OMGI has ever made an equity investment in a private company. In August it invested 125 million pounds ($165.7 million) in U.K. online health and beauty retailer The Hut Group.

The current funding brings the total amount of money TransferWise has raised since its founding in 2011 to $397 million. The latest round values the company at $1.6 billion, according to a person close to the deal who was not authorized to disclose valuation terms. That is $500 million more than the valuation of the company during its last fundraising round in May 2016.

Sapphire Ventures, based in San Francisco, Japan’s Mitsui & Co., and U.S.-Japan venture capital firm World Innovation Lab also joined the funding round as new investors. Previous backers of TransferWise, venture firm Andreessen Horowitz and U.K. asset manager Baillie Gifford, as well as billionaire Richard Branson, reinvested as part of the fundraising.

TransferWise’s co-founders Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Kaarmann, as well as some of the company’s early employees, sold shares to the new investors as part of the deal. Hinrikus is currently the firm’s chairman. Kaarmann took over the chief executive officer role from Hinrikus in July,

"We ended up with so much demand that we gave early investors the chance to sell a small portion of their shares," Hinrikus said in an interview. He described the amount he and Kaarmann sold as "a tiny portion" of their total holdings. 

TransferWise, which employs about 800 people, plans to use the money it is raising to continue to grow worldwide, with a particular emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. Hinrikus said the company would be launching its full range of services in India within the next year. Currently, customers can use TransferWise to send money to India but cannot send money from the country.

Hinrikus said there is "a very high likelihood of being a public company," but that it had no plans for an initial public offering in the near future. "That is still quite a number of years away," he said. "There’s no pressure for doing it."

Last week the company announced it was cutting the fees it charges to send money from the U.K. to a wide range of countries, a move that comes at a time when TransferWise is facing stiff competition from incumbents and a host of even younger startups.

TransferWise said it currently has two million users every month, who collectively transfer in excess of 1 billion pounds. The company said in May 2017 that it became profitable for the first time "during the previous calendar year." However the company has not yet filed its financial statements for the tax year ended March 2017. The company lost 17.3 million pounds on revenue of 27.9 million pounds during tax year 2016 according to the latest account available at U.K. business registry Companies House.

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