Fintech unicorn Transferwise now known simply as Wise

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Transferwise - now Wise - co-founder and CEO Kristo Käärmann. Source: Wise

Estonian fintech unicorn firm Transferwise has shortened its name to Wise, the company has announced.

The name change, which comes into effect Monday, resulted from the company's growth beyond its original incarnation as a secure money transfer platform, branching out into international banking and other services, the company says.

"For generations, banks have been defined by borders," co-founder and CEO Kristo Käärmann wrote on the company's site.

"Traditional bank accounts trap our money in one country, making international lives more difficult and expensive than they need to be. We shouldn't have to accept this status quo."

To remedy this, Wise will provide a debit card, accounts and other features in a multiplicity of international currencies, while retaining its instant money transfer facility, Käärmann noted.

Wise was founded as Transferwise in 2011 by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, with offices initially in Tallinn later joined by London, where the company is headquartered, and other locations, including the United Arab Emirates. The company has around 10 million international customers at present, it says.

On opening in the U.K., the company's marketing strategy included publicity shoots outside established high street banks in that country, while in 2014, the company received the endorsement of, not to mention US$25 million (c. €21 million) investment from, Sir Richard Branson.

The company has been profitable since 2017, and reported net profits of £10.3 million (€11.6 million) in the fiscal year to March 2019. In September last year, the company reported £302.6 million (around €350 million) revenue for the preceding financial year, with net profits of £21.3 million (c. €25 million) over the same period.

Wise is one of five Estonian unicorns - meaning a company with a market value of one billion, in practice confined largely to tech firms (as of last year, Wise's stood at a reported US$5 billion, a little over €4 billion - ed.) - along with ride-hailing and food ordering app Bolt, customer relations management software firm Pipedrive, gambling software maker Playtech, and voice over internet protocol communications firm Skype.

A 2019 movie, "Chasing Unicorns", took a light-hearted look at the startup scene and was itself directed by Rain Rannu, founder of Fortumo, a mobile payments and direct carrier billing platform.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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