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TrasnsferWise: 5 things they can't do.

You might think it odd that a currency conversion company overtly name and publiscise a business which all would consider a direct competitor (and yes, we have put a hyperlink to their site in their logo, so you can travel directly there).

Well, we would agree with you, if we considered TransferWise and their ilk 'competition'.

We will begin by assuming that you already know TW apply a standalone fee instead of a mark-up to their rate of exchange. They give you what they call 'the real exchange rate', which means they pass on the rate they get wholesale, but, they charge you.

At the time of writing TW's fee is 0.35%.

This means that when you are exchanging £1000 you pay £3.50.

When you exchange £100,000 you pay £350.

All we have to do to win business from TW is come up with a simple online system (like theirs) and charge you less than 0.35%. We have developed the former and our ability to undercut the latter depends on how much you are exchanging.


Prime Cap is as different to TransferWise as Fortnum & Mason is to Lidl.

Largely the same market, but, there will always be things that only Fortnum's can provide - expertise, quality and panache?

Discount grocers like Aldi and Lidl are disrupters in the UK precisely because there are many who want good quality at a better price. A business like TransferWise offers precisely the same to those looking to send money abroad, however, their business model, although revolutionary, is limited in terms of application and leaves a vacuum which Prime Cap happily and diligently fills.

Ironically, Prime Cap's services do not cost you more; in this blog we will look at how TW use inference and leverage assumption to achieve marketing impact.


We're quick to impress that the information we discuss here is freely available online via TW's site and other forums and we certainly invite you to challenge our understanding of things. In writing this we are not actually trying to discredit TW, but, rather we want to highlight some of the differences across the sector.


1. You can only send the currency you buy to the country from which that currency originates.

This is unlikely to matter to you unless you hold more than one currency account in more than one country. So, if you are a UK based business earning in US or EUR then you are not able to convert GBP using TW into one of those currencies and credit it to your UK held EUR or USD account. You can only credit it to a USD account in the US.

2. Your rate is only honoured if you get your money to TW within 24hrs.

Again, for businesses this can be a problem because, although someone in accounts may have authority to lock in a rate with an FX firm, they might have to get sign off from above in order to send money for settlement. What happens during holiday season, school holidays etc?

Are you going to have to come back to TW if 24hrs elapses and beging the whole process again?

3. There is no formal international wiring paper-trail with a TW payment.

TW relies on entities in the country you want the money to arrive in to make a local domestic payment to your chosen beneficiary. Therefore, your sterling doesnt actually leave the UK. You cannot necessarily provide your beneficiary with a globally recognised confirmation that you ever or even sent funds to them.

For corporate clients buying stock from slightly more exotic locations this could be all the more onerous as local banks mightn't be able to trace transactions and your supplier mightn't feel comfortable shipping without the usual SWIFT message or the like.

4. The TransferWise team arent going to inform you of the data, news or sentiment that will have a bearing on the currencies you're considering exchanging between.

DIY online transfer businesses rely on you to do everything. There are a bit like sense service checkouts at the supermarket. Granted these are hugely convenient, but, when the red light flashes you still have to wait for someone to solve your issue.

If queuing at an isle and having someone pass all your items across the scanner were as quick and painless as the self service process then it is more than likely you'd opt for the human touch, as many still do. Foreign exchange services are much the same. The little flourishes, the insight at point of sale, the reassuring discussion with someone whose sole role is to take you through the process...these are all things that economy strips out of a TransferWise type service.

It is totally fair to say that in certain, if not many, instances the service Prime Cap offers are not going to add materially to the value you receive, especially if you're attracted by app. or mobile accessibility, but, our online platform relies on many of the same queues and protocols as those of purely online transfer businesses and yet we customise what you see and what you can use. Transacting within minutes is all well and good as an advertising hook, but, if that time is then lost while you try to understand how to send a payment, the proposition is revealed as a rather hollow one.

5. You cannot do your due diligence on them.

The vast majority of clients we work with meet one of the Prime Cap team in person before engaging us. In instances where this is not possible, the client is always and only introduced by someone who has met us in person and who has, in the face of the enormous competition we face, selected us from a list of suitors as the most appropriately equipped firm to satisfactorily deliver what you need. To be sure, you may have seen a TransferWise ad on public transport.