A few years ago, a duo of Estonian entrepreneurs set out to revolutionize the way we transfer money. They promised better rates, a more transparent process and a better user experience. Wise was born. Fast forward to the present and it is clear that they have been successful. So much so that you will be hard pressed to find anyone in the location independent community who does not have an account let alone has not heard of it. Well, this creative duo is at it again and this time, having already mastered the art of transferring money between accounts, they are setting out to revolutionize the accounts themselves. Welcome to Wise.
My experience with Wise
I have been a client of Wise since the very beginning and have always been satisfied with their services. I was thus very excited when I heard about the Borderless launch.
In short, Wise is a digital wallet in which you can receive and hold currencies just like you would with a normal bank account. In many ways, the product is similar to what Payoneer offers but in a more refined package and without the insane fees. Like Payoneer, you get a local bank account number for your USD, EUR and GBP balances (as well as a number of other currencies). Unlike Payoneer, you can link your PayPal and Stripe accounts to your currency balances (not all of them).
Opening an account took only a few seconds in my case as both my personal and business profiles were already fully verified. I was only able to open a business Borderless account, however, as my country of residence is not supported (Hong Kong).
Activating the USD, EUR and GBP balances took only a few more seconds and by this point, I was very impressed. I then linked them to Stripe to test whether the two services are compatible. I had to force the use of ACH for the USD balance but other than that everything worked fine. I was also able to link to PayPal.
That was back in 2017. Since then, I have used the account extensively and have not encountered any issues. My support queries have always been answered within a few hours and the rates I have been offered have always been very competitive.
All in all, I absolutely recommend Wise. It can satisfy the day-to-day banking needs of the majority of people and businesses and that is especially true when you take into consideration the Wise debit card.
How to open an account
To open a Wise account, you will first need to open a normal Wise account and verify it. To complete the verification, you will need a proof of ID, a proof of address and if opening a business account, some sort of proof for that business (certificate of registration, extract from the registry etc). Do note that not all countries are supported and that even supported countries may not be fully supported.
There are no account opening fees nor any maintenance fees. Receiving money is free, sending money to a bank account in the same currency is very cheap (detailed pricing) while sending to another currency is treated as a normal Wise transfer.
If you have used Revolut or N26, you will immediately feel at home with the Borderless user interface. It is clean and modern looking, everything just feels right. From the home page, you can activate new currency balances, download currency-specific transaction statements, access every information needed in order to use the accounts (SWIFT codes, IBAN etc) as well as review pricing information and leave feedback. Sending money from a Borderless account works in the same way as for a normal Wise transfer. Interestingly, you can also send money to your own Borderless account using a debit/credit card or a bank transfer. This is a great opportunity for manufactured spending (see the Manufactured spending section below for more details).
I tried sending money to my account using a business debit card and the money was received nearly instantly. Those using LHV in Estonia, N26 and other banks with Wise integrations will be pleased to learn that it is also possible to send money to a Borderless account nearly instantly using the integrated Wise feature in the bank’s online banking interface. A number of other banks have also integrated the feature.
Speaking of sending money, the transfers will be labelled as coming from Wise (not from your name or your business). This is a bummer as it will prevent the service from being used with the likes of Mollie. With that said, Wise has been making progress with this and transactions now show the proper sender details in the US and some other countries.