FinTech Strategy hears from Till Wirth, EVP of Product at Wise Platform, to find out more about its mission to make international payments fast, low-cost, convenient and transparent

At Money20/20 Europe in Amsterdam, Till Wirth, EVP of Product at Wise Platform, took part in an impactful session titled “From Personal Payments to Enterprise: The Changing World of Cross-Border.” Wirth’s panel talk focused on the transformative trends in cross-border payments and their implications for both personal and enterprise financial transactions.

Wise is a global technology company building the best way to move money around the world. Wise Platform is Wise – but for banks, large businesses and other major enterprises.

We allow our partners to embed the best way to send, receive and manage money internationally into their existing infrastructure, creating value for their business and customers.

Over the past decade, Wise (formerly known as Transferwise) has built a global payments infrastructure that has revolutionised how money moves around the world. Now, thanks to Wise Platform, other companies can gain access to our industry-leading, reliable service seamlessly.

We save partners time and money by allowing them to deploy new products and services to customers seamlessly, helping them to speed up innovation and serve, retain, and grow their customer base.”

FinTech Strategy spoke with Wirth to learn more…

Tell us about the genesis of Wise… Why is this an exciting time for the company?

“For us at Wise, it’s all about continuing towards our mission of making international payments fast, low-cost, convenient and transparent for our customers and partners.

It’s an exciting time for us as we’ve moved over £118bn on behalf of our 12.8 million active customers in the last financial year and helped them save more £1.8bn in fees. Over 62% of Wise’s transfers are completed instantly (in 20 seconds or less). Wise Platform, our global payments infrastructure for banks and enterprises is growing quickly, too, which allows us to bring the benefits of Wise to more people around the world.”

Tell us about your role…

“I lead the Wise Platform Product team building the global payments infrastructure for banks, financial institutions and enterprises around the world. For example, my team built the product behind the collaboration we announced with Swift last year.”

What are some of the key challenges financial institutions are facing that you can help them with? What problems are they asking you to solve?

“Consumers now expect their cross-border payments to be instant, convenient and transparent. And they are moving to providers they can trust to provide these services. As a result, we’re seeing banks focusing on retaining and winning back their customers through improving their cross-border payments experience. This is exactly what Wise Platform is helping them to do.

We work with more than 85 partners globally, including Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s largest bank by assets, Shinhan Bank, one of South Korea’s oldest and largest national banks, and GMO in Japan to provide them with the capabilities, technology and network to enable fast, secure and cost-effective international payments for their customers. Quickly, directly from their own apps, without any major technical overhaul.”

Tell us about a recent success story…

“In June this year, Wise Platform hit a major milestone when our integration with Nubank, the world’s largest digital banking platform with over 100 million customers, went live.

Thanks to our partnership, Nubank’s premium Ultraviolet customers can now access multi-currency accounts and debit cards powered by Wise directly from their Nubank app. Customers benefit from a convenient user experience that we’ve tested and iterated over the years for our own customers to seamlessly manage their finances internationally.”

Why do you think the evolution of collaboration between banks and fintechs is set to continue?

“One of the reasons is that while banks have scale, they can gain agility in non core focus areas by working with fintechs and deliver significant customer benefits quickly.

Most banks have been built to focus on domestic banking, meaning their global cross-border payments are often not a priority. However, fintechs are better able to specialise and focus on one specific customer pain point. This means they can innovate much more quickly.”

Why Money20/20? What is it about this particular event that makes it the perfect place to showcase what you do? What’s the response been like for Wise?

“It’s a great event that brings the industry together and enables us to discuss the progress we’re collectively making. This year in particular, it was great to be on a panel to discuss how the cross-border payments landscape is evolving and the latest trends we’re seeing. We look forward to the upcoming event in the US later this year.”

  • Digital Payments

Digital payments are now the preferred payment method for much of the world, and they continue to evolve.

They were first introduced through the creation of credit or debit cards. These physical cards allowed consumers to spend money without needing cash.

Advances in mobile technology led to online banking apps, mobile wallets, and contactless payments. These methods are even more convenient and are transformative for commerce, online and in physical outlets.

Throughout 2024, there are ten key trends expected to rise as digital payments evolve:

1. Rise of cryptocurrencies in everyday transactions

Cryptocurrencies, or crypto, are digital currencies maintained by a decentralised blockchain system rather than any government or institution. Owning a crypto means possessing assets that are not tangible, hence it is more popular as an investment currently.

Many platforms are gradually integrating crypto into their financial ecosystem. For example, PayPal — the online payment giant — allows users to buy, hold, and sell crypto.

Despite its volatility issues, crypto is predicted to keep growing. It offers fast transactions, easier cross-border payment, and lower transaction fees than traditional methods.

2. Biometric Authentication

The security concerns surrounding digital payments are unchanged, but the method for securing them is improving all the time. This has led to widespread growth in biometric authentication. Biometric authentication allows for more security and convenience than traditional passwords and PINs, which can be forgotten or stolen. It makes impersonation far more difficult.

Biometrics requires users to input unique physical characteristics like fingerprints or facial features (via a camera). Approved in an instant, consumers can make payments easily by verifying with the tap of a finger or by staying still for the camera.

3. Growth of Peer-to-Peer Payments

Peer-to-peer payment apps allow users to send money directly to another user using a mobile device. The convenience of this payment mode made it popular.

Among the most used apps are Zelle, Venmo, and Paypal. Zelle, for instance, gained $307 billion in transactions in 2020, 58% growth on the previous year, and part of a wider trend in digital payments growth during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

This method offers instant transactions advantageous for time-sensitive transactions like splitting bills or sending emergency funds. It also commonly has a low-cost or free transaction compared to traditional banking options.

4. AI fraud detection with digital payments

AI technology has greatly impacted many sectors, including digital payments. Fraud detection with AI is a solution that uses algorithms to analyse large transaction data. This AI tool can recognise suspicious patterns and identify discrepancies that indicate fraudulent activity.

Companies like Visa introduced AI fraud detection this year. The AI-powered security tools are included in the Visa Protect suite. The fraud detection tool, including digital wallets, can be used for immediate payments.

5. Real-time payments (RTP)

Real-time payments make immediate transactions between accounts significantly better than traditional banking systems, which might take days. This is a preferred option for both consumers and businesses.

Businesses can improve cash flow with faster payments, and consumers can access funds immediately. Currently, the RTP frameworks continue to be adopted by worldwide financial institutions. It is expected to be the standard for various transactions, including payroll and cross-border payments.

6. Voice-activated transactions

Voice-activated payment is an innovative method for users to do transactions simply using speaking commands. A payment system such as this can be more convenient for users than the common typing password method.

This form of authentication is possible through voice recognition tools used in mobile apps. Additionally, voice-activated payments offer a high level of security and a smoother consumer experience. As more companies adopt this trend, it is expected to become even more popular in 2024.

7. QR code payments

QR code payments uses a unique QR code that smartphones can scan to authorise transactions. It is usually connected to consumers’ mobile banking apps or mobile wallets as the source of payment.

This contactless payment offers a seamless payment experience that is highly desirable for users. Businesses also benefit from the simplicity of the method by making transactions faster and seamless.

8. Cross-border payments

Cross-border payments are expected to grow consistently as the world moves on from the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, more businesses are engaging in cross-border payments, and 80 percent expect a transaction volume increase in the next 12 to 24 months.

International payments often suffer from high fees and lengthy transaction times. However, companies are expected to improve their capabilities as cross-border payments increase.

9. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services are a more accessible of borrowing for payment than traditional methods like credit cards.

They allow consumers to make purchases and spread the cost over time. This method enables minimal or zero percent financing and no initial credit check.

Many e-commerce platforms have integrated these payment system as they become more popular. 

10. IoT devices integration for digital payments

Integrating Internet of Things (IoT) devices with mobile payments helps make the consumer experience more convenient. This innovation allows wearables and smart home appliances to make contactless payments.

Furthermore, IoT devices can also generate data that can be analysed to create a more personalised experience.

  • Digital Payments

The RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre was the location for the world’s leading fintech conference.

Money20/20 Europe offered a unique blend of insightful keynotes, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. These underscored the transformative power of emerging technologies in financial services.

This year’s theme was ‘Human X Machine’. Money20/20 Europe explored the relationship between humans and intelligent machines, focusing on how the partnership between artificial and human intelligence will forge a new era in finance…

Innovations in AI and Open Banking

Artificial Intelligence was a major theme throughout Money20/20. A notable session featured Patrice Amann from Microsoft and Kevin Levitt from NVIDIA. They discussed the role of Generative AI in transforming customer experiences in banking. They highlighted the importance of integrating business-specific data to enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of AI solutions​​.

Open banking also garnered significant attention at Money20/20. Mastercard and bunq announced a partnership enabling users to consolidate multiple bank accounts through bunq’s AI-driven money assistant, Finn. This move is part of a broader trend towards greater financial integration and personalised banking experiences​​. Additionally, Token.io and Prommt unveiled a collaboration to improve open banking payments. This illustrated the increasing importance of seamless, user-friendly payment solutions in the fintech landscape​​.

Why Money20/20?

Fintech Strategy met with SC Ventures, Lloyds Banking Group, OSB Group, AirWallex, Plaid, Paymentology, Episode Six, Mettle (NatWest Group) and more to take the pulse of the latest trends across the fintech landscape…

Mettle

Michelle Prance, CEO, Mettle (NatWest Group): “It’s good for Mettle to come here because we are a fintech that was incubated inside a large bank for fintechs. Quite often their route to market, and capitalisation, is by going into a main bank being acquired. It’s a marriage between a big organisation and the small nimble fintech. People are really interested in what we’re doing because big incumbents want to be fast and nimble. They don’t always have the capital to invest in something like we’ve been able to do with Mettle. So, they’re interested to know the right route. Do they incubate in house? Or do they buy it in? And what’s the right way to do that without killing the culture? These are the types of interesting conversations we’ve been having here.”

Episode Six

Craig Ramsay, MD Business Development, Episode Six: “Networking is really important for us as a small company. There are lots of people here who can actually solve problems and it’s the collaboration I get quite excited about. What I’ve seen change in recent years is that the big banks are looking to find small organisations like us to figure out how to solve their payments problems. And that’s different to when I was working for a bank only a few years ago. You just have to be here at Money20/20… What I’m seeing, since we returned after Covid, is how many people from different parts of the world are coming here to actually talk to each other in person. If you’re not here at Money20/20, then it’s actually hard to be relevant in this industry.”

Read the full review here

  • Artificial Intelligence in FinTech
  • Digital Payments