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Watch > Episode > Taavet Hinrikus - How Wise Has Revolutionised Cross-Border Payments And Disrupted The Whole Fintech Ecosystem

Taavet Hinrikus - How Wise Has Revolutionised Cross-Border Payments And Disrupted The Whole Fintech Ecosystem


In the fast-evolving landscape of fintech, few figures have made as significant an impact as Taavet Hinrikus. As the co-founder of TransferWise, now known as Wise, Hinrikus has played a pivotal role in revolutionising international money transfers and reshaping the financial services industry. This interview with Taavet as part of our Silicon Real series delves into his life, accomplishments, and transformative contributions, a visionary entrepreneur at the forefront of digital finance.

Taavet Hinrikus’s journey into the tech world began in Estonia, where he became the first employee at Skype, the groundbreaking communication platform. Hinrikus’s role at Skype marked the beginning of his illustrious career in the tech industry. During his time at Skype, Hinrikus encountered a challenge that would inspire his next venture: the high cost of sending money internationally.

Frustrated by the steep fees associated with international money transfers and unfavourable exchange rates, Taavet Hinrikus teamed up with Kristo Käärmann to create TransferWise in 2010. The idea was simple yet revolutionary: a peer-to-peer platform that matched individuals wanting to exchange currencies with each other directly, cutting out the need for traditional banking intermediaries and reducing costs.

TransferWise’s disruptive model quickly gained traction. Instead of relying on the opaque and costly methods employed by traditional banks, TransferWise leveraged the power of peer-to-peer transactions to provide users with a transparent and cost-effective alternative. This approach resonated with consumers and businesses alike, leading to widespread adoption of the platform.

In 2021, TransferWise underwent a rebranding, adopting the name Wise to better reflect its broader range of financial services. Under Hinrikus’s leadership, Wise expanded its offerings beyond international money transfers. The platform introduced services such as multi-currency accounts, debit cards, and business accounts, positioning itself as a comprehensive digital finance solution.

Taavet Hinrikus’s vision for a fairer and more accessible financial system has had a profound impact on a global scale. Wise has empowered millions of users to send and receive money across borders with greater efficiency and transparency. The platform’s success has garnered industry recognition, with Hinrikus and his co-founder Käärmann receiving accolades for their pioneering work in fintech.

Beyond his role at Wise, Taavet Hinrikus has emerged as a prominent advocate for technology and entrepreneurship. He has shared his insights on various platforms, discussing the future of finance, the role of technology in shaping industries, and the importance of fostering innovation. Hinrikus’s thought leadership extends beyond the success of Wise, contributing to broader conversations about the intersection of technology and finance.

Taavet Hinrikus’s commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond the business realm. He has been involved in philanthropic efforts, contributing to causes that align with his vision for a better and more inclusive world. Hinrikus’s personal impact is characterised not only by the success of Wise but also by his dedication to using technology to address social challenges.

Taavet Hinrikus’s journey from Skype’s first employee to the co-founder of Wise exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurial vision and innovative thinking. His commitment to challenging the status quo in finance and creating a more transparent and accessible global financial system has left an indelible mark on the fintech industry. As Hinrikus continues to lead Wise into the future, his story serves as an inspiration for those who believe in the potential of technology to reshape traditional industries and empower individuals on a global scale.


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