TransferWise partners with French banking group Groupe BPCE

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Financial technology firm TransferWise has partnered with Groupe BPCE, in a deal that will give the British money-transfer startup access to the French banking group’s 15 million retail customers, the companies said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO - View of the BPCE banking group headquarters during the company's 2011 annual results presentation in Paris February 23, 2012. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Customers of Groupe BPCE will be able to use TransferWise’s international money transfer service directly in their mobile banking apps from 2019, the companies said in a statement.

The partnership will mark the first time in Europe that a major banking group offers TransferWise’s service directly in its own apps, they said.

Founded in 2011, web-based TransferWise has grown in popularity by offering a simpler and cheaper alternative to traditional banks for individuals looking to transfer money internationally.

“TransferWise has a mission to make money move around the world as fast and as cheaply as email,” Kristo Käärmann, co-founder and chief executive of TransferWise, said in a statement. “This partnership is a momentous step on that journey.”

TransferWise, which says it moves 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) a month for its over 3 million users, is one of a cohort of young companies seeking to lure customers away from banks by providing easier-to-use and cheaper financial services.

In its early days, the company’s marketing featured snarky anti-banking slogans and provocative publicity stunts, such as a group stripping down to their underwear in London’s financial district to protest hidden banking fees.

Since then, much like other fintech startups, TransferWise has been looking to collaborate with large banks that could help it reach more customers faster. Banks say they benefit from partnering with fintechs which can help them offer better digital services to their customers.

“The industry is evolving and we’re really honored to be having these conversations with banks,” a TransferWise spokeswoman said in an email. “By working with us, a bank is essentially choosing to minimize their profits on cross border payments in order to give their customers a more modern and fair service. That’s a promising move for the industry.”

Based in London, TransferWise has raised nearly $400 million from investors including asset management firm Old Mutual Plc, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and PayPal Holdings Inc founder Max Levchin.

Reporting by Anna Irrera, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien