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CNBC Interview with TransferWise CFO, Matt Briers


The following are excerpts from an interview with CNBC's Arjun Kharpal and TransferWise CFO, Matt Briers.

AK: So Matt, TransferWise doubled revenues in the year through to March 2017. We're almost at the end of the next fiscal year now. What are your expectations for this fiscal year that's ended

MB: Well it's more of the same really. So the last fiscal year was a great year. We saw very strong growth beside you know, lots of usage of TransferWise from our customers and that shift towards being profitable which is very important from a giving trust from our customers, trust from our partners, trust with regulators and this year's going to be just more of the same really so more growth, still very sustainable on the platform and just really focusing and doubling down on growing, growing usage of TransferWise.

AK: Could you give us some specifics or expectations on the way, how you expect revenues to grow this fiscal year.

MB: So much in line with similar growth that we've seen before. So it's a little bit too soon to tell yet that but you know things are certainly not slowing down and you know we just continue to focus on growing the kind of core routes that we've already had and seeing more from things like our borderless accounts and kind of growing new geographies continues to be a great focus for TransferWise.

AK: You said last year in a few interviews that you were aiming for or likely to hit the 100 million revenue target in 2017. Was that achieved last year.

MB: Well so for sure we were at 67 million in our fiscal year to full year to March 17 and I would expect us to continue growing and whether it's 100 million or more you know we'll see.

AK: You also returned to profit as well. Are we going to see another profit this year even as you continue to invest in growth, invest in new regions

MB: Of course. So we're we're managing to be a sustainable business. So I'd expect us to be profitable. We've been profitable for the last year. We're very much focused on just driving growth as a business you know it's all about growing but growing in a sustainable manner. We're not managing to a margin but rather making sure that we have this sustainable business which benefits everybody

AK: Talk to me a little bit about the borderless account. What has the reaction so far been from some of the users?

MB: Borderless is a great example of just expanding their use and bringing our infrastructure in a better way to our customers so rather than just sending money with TransferWise you can now send, receive money on TransferWise and then spend in different currencies as well. So both for small businesses and then for consumers it's great and we've seen a significant uptake from existing customers but then also a lot of new customers coming to TransferWise using borderless. It's really the only true multi-currency account that you can have around the world where we can give local banking details to, whether you're in the U.S., in Europe, Australia or in the UK obviously and it's generally been a very exciting uptake for our customers.

AK: You've been doing some private tests at the moment with the new debit card as well.

MB: Exactly. So yeah we expect that to launch very soon. It's actually it's more than just a small test many thousands of cards out there now being used in the wild and it's been fantastic to give that to our borderless customers to be able to give a wider use case for the product.

AK: When are you going to open it up to the rest of the public.

MB: It's coming soon

AK: Is scale the key to your business here. There's been lots of other fintech players doing similar things to what TransferWise is doing. Competition is really heating up. So is this a challenge at the moment for TransferWise?

MB: Scale is really important in our industry but not just scale so you need to fundamentally build a product that makes it super fast, super cheap and super easy to move money around the world. So you don't just get that through scale. So we've built a very nice smart way to move money around the world at TransferWise and some would say we're at scale but we're actually still all tiny relative to our banks. So you know we are a small share of the amount of money moved around the world. So one would argue we don't necessarily have scale yet so there's plenty of opportunity. Some 40 trillion dollars of money is moved round the world every year. We're moving a tiny fraction of that today. So absolutely scale is going to help us and we'll continue to focus on driving growth. But without a decent product around this fast very cheap and super convenient no-one's going to get any scale at any point in time.

AK: The banks have been getting a little bit more savvy around fintech recently. They have been launching some fairly similar products and boosting some of the tech capabilities. Does that worry you given the already large user base in terms of what they can do to your potential growth.

MB: I mean fundamentally at the heart of our mission is to drive transparency, solve the problem of the cost and ease and speed of moving money around the world. So if banks are starting to shift and change their products off the back of what we're doing, that in itself is not a bad thing actually. However you know we still believe that we're 10 times cheaper or faster or more convenient than what the banks can offer so for sure if they can use technology and that's great for customers but in the long run we believe that we've got the best product from all those 3 drivers

AK: Cryptocurrencies of course have been a huge topic over the past year. Have you had any discussions about integrating cryptocurrencies into your platform, any intentions to do so?

MB: So it's particularly noisy, so in terms of enabling customers to buy crypto on TransferWise, well, it really comes down to us as to you know prioritize ???? and focus so still for us it's still more has a bigger impact for our consumers to integrate something like the Israeli shekel or another currency like these are bigger currencies and bigger sets of customers that we believe we can help as opposed integrating crypto today. So that's been our focus.

AK: What about the block chain technology of course another hyped up area of technology. Is that a technology you're excited about?

MB: It's all gathering pace is very interesting to see. Fundamentally we're about minimizing the cost of moving money around the world and making it easy and quick. So if at some point in the future block chain or whatever approaches is the is the right way to do that to minimize the cost. Absolutely we consider that at that point in time.

AK: You've been growing strongly, turned a profit, looking to turn another one in this fiscal year as well. When do we expect to see a TransferWise IPO as well?

MB: Great question. Well you know, as I said all the things you just said you know, we're still growing, we're cash generating you know we're in a fantastic position now financially to support this mission for the next decade, 100 years so that's what we're focused on and you know we'll as an organisation continue to focus on now. Now we're at that point driving growth having the impact and making money move across borders.

AK: Have you guys internally had any discussions around a potential listing of some sort in the near future?

MB: We've talked before that that at some point in the future an IPO is potential outcome for us but there's no need for us to really discuss that at length now because you know we're in a good place and the things the hard work that we've done over the last three years means that now we're in place to just focus on growing the business which we're in a lucky place and we value that.


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