October 13, 2022

A Q&A with Ankita D’Mello of Wise, a cross-border payments provider

Molly Hetz

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Wise, previously TransferWise, launched in 2011 with the vision of making international money transfer cheap, fair, and simple. Since then, they’ve disrupted the cross-border money flow markets with their unique cross-currency exchange model and have become the go-to app for millions of people and businesses managing their money across the world. 

To help customers easily and reliably send funds via an API solution that doesn’t require sharing credentials, they turned to Core Exchange. Now with Plaid’s Privacy Controls suite, Wise users are able to view and manage their banking connections in real-time using the Wise website or app. 

Here, Ankita D’Mello, Senior Product Manager at Wise, talks to Katherine Li, Product Marketing Lead at Plaid, about how they’re using Plaid’s Data Connectivity & Privacy Controls suite to bring transparency to finance. 

Plaid: Can you tell us about Wise and the products and services you offer? 

Ankita: At Wise, our mission is money without borders–instant, convenient, transparent, and eventually free. We are the main connector for a lot of people’s bank accounts in different countries. 

Our core product offerings include the Wise account which is where a customer can send, spend, hold, and receive money from over 50 currencies. This is a really powerful product for customers who need to “get paid like a local.” Our account also offers a debit card so customers can spend using the best currency available, given the exchange rate. 

One of our newest products is a B2B offering known as Wise Platform. Here we enable banks and other companies to use the infrastructure that powers Wise via our API, embedded into their existing platform so their customers can send money more conveniently. This is completely under the hood and a faster way to reach consumers who need a fast, secure and transparent way to send money. We’re always working on optimizing our existing products and making sure we can continue to offer faster and cheaper ways to send money abroad. In doing this, it’s critical our customers are at the forefront of everything we do, which is why we ask for and build offerings that our customers want. 

We cater to a broad range of consumers but typically, our customers include anyone with a cross-currency need. They can be individuals sending money to their families abroad or paying for goods and services overseas, and businesses who need help paying their employees abroad or managing their international funds.

As the world gets more global and people lead remote lives, many of our customers need an account tailored to this lifestyle. So we’ve set out on a different path, still very aligned to our mission and what we do, but with a larger focus on those who need us to be their account no matter where they are and where they’re going.

Plaid: Why is secure data connectivity using Core Exchange so critical to you as you help consumers move money across the globe? 

Ankita: Ensuring the seamless and secure transfer of funds helps us get new customers to trust us faster and retain our existing customer’s trust.  

By enabling Core Exchange, we have given customers more options to use the money they hold with us. They can choose to connect to other applications and move their money there. Without Core Exchange, this wouldn’t have been possible for certain customers who don’t have a bank account in the US. For those that are in the US and use Wise a lot, this is a much more convenient experience for them instead of having to move money back and forth between their accounts. 

Plaid: How does Plaid’s Permissions Manager help you deliver more value to your users? 

Ankita: Data access is important and we want to give our customers the control and transparency they need over their data. That’s why Wise has rolled out Plaid’s Permissions Manager product to all our customers globally.  With Permissions Manager, our customers can easily make changes to which apps are linked to their Wise account. When customers can see the changes in their data permissions in real-time, it builds a layer of trust. 

Plaid: There are a lot of institutions that are beginning their open finance journey. Can you tell us more about how you got started and why you chose to partner with Plaid?

Ankita: We got started with open finance primarily to support the Wise account product with secure data connectivity. Particularly for those customers who move to the US and are using us as a primary account, not having seamless data connectivity actually becomes an inconvenience for them. 

When we heard from Plaid that customers were actually searching for Wise on Plaid’s platform, we decided to integrate. Today, Plaid helps us collect money from our customers via ACH (direct debit) by quickly establishing a connection to their bank account. It’s the most popular and convenient pay in method particularly for our personal customers. 

In the US, Plaid essentially fills the gap in terms of open banking capabilities. It’s definitely helped our customers by making that connection to their bank account instant. If we had to rely on manual micro-deposits, a slower method, as the only option, we would likely see a lower conversion on our transfers as some customers may forget, etc. For those customers that also have urgent transfer needs, Plaid helps increase the speed at which we can send their money. 

Plaid: What was the experience like working with Plaid to implement Core Exchange and Permissions Manager? 

Ankita: We started discussing the integration with Plaid in February 2022. The real work began in March and we were live in the first week of June. We established procedures to easily work together and communicate throughout our partnership and to successfully put in place this integration.

Plaid: As of June, Wise customers are able to reliably manage and connect their accounts to the 7,000+ apps and services powered by Plaid. As we speak, over 15,000 Wise customers have already made this connection. What has the response been like from your customers? 

Ankita: We’ve seen strong demand for this feature and our customers are actively making these connections. Our error rates have been less than 1% which helps in establishing a strong customer experience for this feature.  

Plaid: How has that impacted your company and overall mission? 

Ankita: More than ever, we want to increase the convenience of using Wise for our customers. By implementing Core Exchange, we’re one step closer to doing just that. 

Plaid: Do you have any advice for institutions who are just beginning their open finance journey? 

Ankita: Open finance definitely makes our customers’ lives easier. It is also crucial for all institutions to understand the data that they require from customers and be transparent about how it is being used. Ensure that your customer journey for this feature makes the customer feel safe as well as excited.

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