London-based money transfer company plans to hire 250 in Tampa

November 12, 2015

— TransferWise, a London-based money transfer company with big name investors, has opened its North American operations center in Tampa.
The company will station its customer service and operations at 4012 Gunn Highway in Carrollwood. It has already hired 50 people and plans to hire about 250 more over the next few years.
TransferWise declined to give out salary figures, but said the employees will be paid “comfortably above the average Hillsborough County wage.” That average is $47,088.
Backed by high profile investors such as Richard Branson, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, TransferWise has been making waves in Europe since the startup took off in 2011.
It bills itself as an edgy tech company that matches up people that want to transfer money from one country to another to save about 85 percent in transfer fees, compared to what international banks charge.
For example, if someone in the U.S. wanted to send $3,000 to Brazil, sending it through the international banking system takes time and would cost about $150, or 5 percent, said Michael Goodbody, head of public relations for TransferWise in North America. TransferWise, instead, finds someone in Brazil, for example, looking to transfer the same amount to the U.S. It matches up those customers for a fee of about 1 percent, or $30, in comparison. The money moves, but in a different way, Goodbody said.
TransferWise chose Tampa for its operations center because of the talent here, Goodbody said. “The operations center is really focused on customer service. We pride ourselves in our personal customer service. We felt that Tampa offered us a very strong heritage in customer service and that is the kind of skill set we would get.”
The company, which has 450 employees, globally, does about $750 million in transfers each month, Goodbody said. The company boasts that it saved those customers $34 million by using its technology. Since opening offices in the United States in February, it has facilitated transfer of about $1 billion, he said.
The international transfer startup, cofounded by Skype’s first employee Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, has raised $90 million from investors and won accolades ranging from the Financial Times’ 2014 Boldness in Business Award to the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Award.
On its website, it brags of “flipping a gazilliion dollar industry on its head.”
“Locating our operations and service center in Tampa was an easy decision for us,” said Joe Cross, U.S. general manager at TransferWise. “There is something about Tampa that gives us access to great people who feel the same way,” wanting to give customers a great experience and service, he said.
On the flip side, TransferWise will give its employees “a very innovative tech startup and an interesting environment” in which to work, Goodbody said. “That’s what differentiates us.”
The deal came to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Council through Enterprise Florida, its state counterpart. Enterprise Florida has an office in the U.K. where the deal to open an operations center in Tampa was first discussed.
CareerSource Tampa Bay is assisting the company to find employees, screen them and prepare them for on-the-job training.
“As TransferWise’s selection of Tampa shows, our city’s reputation as an ideal location for innovative financial technology companies is spreading across the globe,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have them join our business community and are confident that they will thrive here.”
The company did not receive any state or county incentives to open its new office here.
Yvette C. Hammett | Tribune Staff
“TransferWise is an exciting new addition to our business community and an inspiration for local startups and established firms alike,” said Colleen Chappell, chair of the EDC and CEO of ChappellRoberts. “Their successful model and disruption of the financial industry is a case study for aspiring entrepreneurs.”