When a company already has a working product and many happy users, it’s usually difficult for outsiders to understand why they are hiring more people. What’s left to do? I often ask such a question to candidates during interviews, in a slightly provocative way to see how they react. Something like “TransferWise has a nice working product, plenty of happy customers, so what’s left for us to do, why do you think we need you?”. I must say I rarely get an interesting answer. A typical one would be “add support for more mobile platforms”, which usually leaves me disappointed that the candidate didn’t spend a bit more time thinking about TransferWise before coming to an interview that may change its career. Or at least doing a bit of research on the topic.
But what is it actually that's left to do? Surprisingly a lot, as new joiners usually quickly discover. While our product can be explained in a few simple words (it’s about transferring money, sure), there is a vast number of levers we can move to make it better for existing customers and useful for new customers. Let’s look at a few of them (this list isn’t exhaustive).
Extending our reach is an obvious one, by adding more currencies. We support a lot of currencies already, but there are plenty left. Also for some currencies, we support only one direction, usually transferring to it, since for some reason countries make it easier to get money in than out. Go figure. Adding currencies is about integrating with partners, calculating processing costs and figuring out what's relevant for people sending money on a particular route.
Making it easier to send us the money is another one. The default way is making a wire bank transfer to TransferWise. In Estonia, everybody knows how to do that, but in many countries it’s not the case, and often banks make it far from easy. People are way more used to pay online with cards (which present their own set of challenges for us). Some countries also have more specific payment methods, such as direct debit in the US or very country specific ones like iDeal in The Netherlands. Offering a familiar payment to our customers is very important in order to achieve a significant market share. It has other benefits too, as it will reduce friction, require less customer support, give us better NPS and help spread the word that TransferWise is so easy!
Many customers come to us initially because they know TransferWise will be cheaper than alternatives. Keeping the cost low is however not a trivial task. There are many moving parts that affect the cost of a transfer, from how much we are paying our partners to how much customer support contacts a transfer generates. For example, self-service tools that allow a customer to fix a problem with its transfer without requiring customer support intervention can have significant impact on our costs, as well as on the speed of the transfer. Keeping the costs low helps us to be the best international money transfer service.
And speed is indeed another very important aspect. How fast their money arrives matters more to some customers than others, but in general it’s a key part of our value proposition. It’s an area where it’s possible to do much better than existing solutions in the market.
Being a financial company also comes with many responsibilities in fighting financial crime, obliging us to verify customers are who they say they are. Doing this in a low-friction manner, without slowing down payments, is easier said than done.
There is also a small but dynamic mobile team, which is developing our very nice iOS and Android apps. Making TransferWise better for businesses is another area where there is still a lot to do.
And the list goes on, such as helping customers to spread the word about the revolution, or dealing with fraud attempts.
Obviously, software can massively move all these areas, which is why being a Product Engineer at TransferWise is damn cool!