Fintech company’s Wise service enables Indian users to send money abroad

In this photo illustration, the TransferWise logo is displayed on an Android mobile phone.

Omar Marques | Images SOPA | LightRocket | fake images

Fintech firm Wise said Tuesday that users in India will now be able to send money abroad to 44 countries around the world.

That includes places like Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and countries in the euro zone.

Remittances abroad from India in fiscal year 2019-2020 were around $ 18.75 billion, and more than 60% of them were classified as travel and paid to study abroad, according to data from the Bank of the Indian Reserve. Under a liberalized remittance scheme, the central bank allows residents to freely send up to $ 250,000 abroad to finance personal expenses or education per financial year, which begins in April and ends in March of the following year.

In general, the market for incoming remittances is comparatively larger, as many Indians working abroad send money to their families at home. World Bank data for 2019 showed that personal remittances received in India exceeded $ 83 billion.

Kristo Kaarmann, CEO and co-founder of Wise, which was previously called TransferWise, told CNBC that the ability to send money outside of India was one of the most requested services the company received from users.

“India specifically, is very exciting,” Kaarmann said. “Over the last, like almost a decade, it has been very interesting to watch the creation of local payment infrastructure and UPI.”

The Unified Payment Interface, or UPI, is one of the most dominant digital payment methods in India. What makes the framework stand out compared to mobile wallets is its interoperability, which means that people can use different platforms that are based on UPI to send money and conduct financial transactions.

London-based Wise specializes in money transfers between currencies, which can be done entirely online. It claims that its service is faster and cheaper compared to other fintech players, as well as traditional banks, which tend to suffer a large reduction and offer unfavorable exchange rates.

Banks are the dominant platform for international money transfers in India.

Wise partnered with Google Pay last month to allow US users to send money to India.

Wise also announced Tuesday the opening of a local office in Mumbai. Kaarmann declined to provide details on possible partnerships at the works in India.

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