Flywire is peerTransfer’s springboard to serving a whole new category of consumer: the global citizen of the world.
That’s how Flywire’s Chief Customer Officer, Rob Rosenblatt, explained the company’s impetus for the company’s new branding strategy in an interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster before the announcement was made public.
“In today’s world, consumers are global, with opportunities to study, live, travel and explore around the world. Flywire will become the brand they trust for reliable, transparent payments in a world without borders,” Rosenblatt remarked.
Starting today (Sept. 16), peerTransfer will be known as Flywire.
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Today, Flywire solves a problem that sounds like it shouldn’t be much of one at all: helping students living in one country pay their school tuition (in full) for a school that happens to be in another.
Before services like Flywire came into the market, students were forced to get creative about getting money into the country to make international payments for tuition. Sometimes that involved bringing large amounts of cash in suitcases into the country. Others, it was being forced to leverage traditional bank transfer solutions that were costly, took a long time for the school to receive, and once there, created a reconciliation nightmare for the school due to the number of “hops” and associated fees incurred along the way.
Flywire solves for that via a global platform and a totally transparent process that enables a student and her family to pay tuition, using her preferred payments method, including alternative payments such as Alipay. On the school side, Flywire eliminates the reconciliation hassle by matching payment to the student on behalf of the school.
“For the most part, the schools don’t want to be the international banks of these students. We’re solving a need on both ends and it’s a pretty desperate one,” Rosenblatt remarked.
Flywire serves over 750 educational institutions in the U.S., Europe and Asia, with students making payments from 200 countries. Top originating student markets include China, India and South Korea.
Rosenblatt said that the rebranding comes at a significant time of growth, and expansion of its products and services.
“We started out four years ago serving colleges and universities as the first truly global payment processor for education clients,” Rosenblatt said. “Since then, we’ve built a platform that is completely modular, supporting any currency, any payment vehicle and any type of institution serving international consumers.”
Flywire processed $1 billion in cross-border payments during the 2014-2015 academic year, and estimates it will hit more than $2 billion in the 2015-2016 school year. According to the company, its discounted currency conversion rates can offer savings compared to home-market banks and credit card providers. Brown University, Cornell, MIT, University of Miami, University of Massachusetts–Amherst and University of Western Australia are just some of the schools offering the service to their international students.
Although, today, a student’s brand connection with Flywire comes more through the connection established by their educational institution, Rosenblatt explained that the company’s ability to transform the cross-border payment options for international students has kept strong relationships with those clients beyond just the few years of college.
“There’s more that we can do for them, so it makes sense to create a brand from the ground up – build a personality around it, begin the dialogue and at minimum to convince them to keep using our products certainly during their 4-6 years at school. And hopefully beyond,” he said.
As for other use cases, he hinted that there are more ways that the Flywire brand can expand its relationships with its university clients, including working with universities on health care payments, for example.
“In the university sector, many universities have very large health systems and they’ve asked us to at least consider whether or not there isn’t some entry point that might involve what we call medical tourism,” Rosenblatt noted as one use case for possible service expansion one day.
In related announcements, Flywire also recently announced it would be moving into China, following the news that it raised $22 million in venture capital. China accounts for 28 percent of international students attending higher education institutions in the U.S.
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The company also moved into new headquarters in Boston and expanded its presence in Valencia, Spain. Flywire CEO Mike Massaro explained how the development facilities set the stage for its next series of innovation and provides a hub through which the company can continue to nurture its mission.
“Our new world-class facilities in Boston and Valencia were necessitated by the growth of our core education payments business, as well as the significant market opportunity we have with adjacent products and services,” Massaro said. “Each space was custom-designed to create a highly productive, collaborative environment that reinforces our unique company culture. Both are conveniently located in city hubs, and each is a one-of-a-kind work space in its own way that we think will support our recruiting efforts.”
Rosenblatt believes that Flywire is a brand new concept that will stand over time and the one that will fuel its expansion around the world in support of the global payments needs of the global citizens it serves.
“We want to earn the right to be the most innovative payment brand when it comes to large payments that have to cross borders. And, we will work very hard to do that,” Rosenblatt said.