Alternative Finances

P2P Payments Player TransferWise Picks-Up $58M

TransferWise has snagged a big pile of investment dollars in a round led by one of the Facebook's earliest backers, Andreessen Horowitz.  The UK-based P2P money transfer startup  and Facebook have reportedly been in talks that would see TransferWise provide remittance services for the social networking giant.

The latest $58 million Series C round also saw participation from previous backers Sir Richard Branson, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Index Ventures, IA Ventures, and Seedcamp.

The brainchild of an ex-Skype and PayPal engineer, the goal of the service is simply to make it easier and cheaper to transfer pounds to euros and back.  With the new infusion of cash, TransferWise says  is looking to push global expansion.  To that end, a U.S. office will open next month and outposts in Austria and Germany are in the works for the next few months.

The service is also looking to add 300 new currency routes, more than doubling the existing 292 it already operates.

It is not known if the massive push outward is to help a potentially upcoming partnership with FB that could require such a scale. “We don’t have anything further to say on Facebook at the moment,” a spokesperson told Tech Crunch.

The funding will aid TransferWise's efforts as it squares off with some very established competition  like PayPal and traditional banks offering money transfer services.  They also face a growing roster of start-ups like Azimo, CurrencyFair and peerTransfer specifically in the area of P2P money transfer. Like TransferWise, Azimo and CurrencyFair are based out of Europe (London and Dublin, respectively) while peerTransfer is based in Boston.

“Andreessen Horowitz’s interest in TransferWise shows how ripe financial services are for disruption,” said Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “For too long legacy providers’ dominance of the market has allowed consumers to be hoodwinked into paying huge hidden charges for services as basic as currency exchange.”

 The company is one of the fastest expanding in their vertical, with $4.5 billion having already been transferred through the platform.  As of last April, the start-up was just past the $1 billion mark in transferred funds.

As part of the deal, Ben Horowitz will be joining TransferWise’s board.

 “We are thrilled to be backing Taavet and Kristo. They discovered an important secret and are are uniquely prepared to pursue it,” Horowitz said in a statement on the investment. “Not only is their solution 10 times better than the old way of exchanging foreign currency, but it could not have come at a better time. Since there has been little to no innovation from the traditional banking sector, we see massive opportunity for new financial institutions like TransferWise.”

The news of the funding follows reports in fall 2014 that the P2P start-up was raising a round of $50 million at a valuation of $1 billion.  The company offered TC no comment on their valuation.  TransferWise has raised $91 million to date.



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