Review of TransferWise for Business

TransferWise for Business has matured into an attractive but still imperfect business account worthy of consideration by freelancers and SMBs who get paid internationally.

TransferWise lets you get paid in 50+ currencies. In addition, when you sign up, you get access to separate US, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Eurozone, and Singapore bank account details that allow you to get paid like a local business in those regions. For example, at Localization Ninja, our UK clients pay us by transferring GBP to our London bank account, and our European clients pay us by transferring EUR to our Brussels bank account. We can then convert the money into USD in our New York bank account at the real exchange rate (the one shown by Google), not the usurious conversion rates the big banks use. All of these account balances in different currencies are accessible in a single, unified app. If you get paid in several different currencies, this setup can save you quite a bit of money on currency conversion costs.

Since London-based TransferWise is a fintech unicorn, not a legacy bank, its no surprise that the minimalist TransferWise app is slicker than traditional banking apps.

However, when we first adopted TransferWise for Business, it was still quite rough around the edges. It integrated with Xero accounting software but not QuickBooks, which is what our accountant uses. You could not set up debits from your New York USD account, and there was no US TransferWise debit card, which made it very difficult to pay bills in the US from your USD business account.

Today (in July 2020), two of those three problems have been solved. TransferWise now integrates with QuickBooks, and you can set up direct debits from your USD account to pay your bills in the US. Unfortunately there is still no US debit card, which is a major drawback. One workaround is to use PayPal as your debit card by linking your PayPal account to your TransferWise USD account and then paying your bills with PayPal.

Transferwise makes it very simple to transfer money to Japanese banks. Just specify the Japanese bank details and the exact amount in yen you want deposited into the account, and Transferwise withdraws the corresponding amount from your USD or EUR account and explains the transaction very transparently, like this:

6,050 JPY is on its way to Kenkyusha Co., Ltd. The USD to JPY rate was 103.255. The fee was 2.96 USD.

From our perspective, TransferWise for Business still lacks two features that would make it the perfect international business account. First, we would love to get Tokyo bank account details that would allow us to accept local payments in JPY from our Japanese clients. The second missing feature, as noted above, is a US business debit card. However, the fact that TransferWise was able to implement QuickBooks integration and US account debits as promised inspires hope that they will come through with the US debit cards soon too.

In sum, if you are a freelancer or SMB who gets paid internationally and is feeling the pain of currency conversion costs, and fintech does not scare you, and you can tolerate the current lack of a business debit card (for example, by using the PayPal workaround), you should definitely consider TransferWise for Business as your everyday business banking solution.

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