Podcasts

How TransferWise scales internationally with CTO Harsh Sinha

  • Harsh Sinha manages a team of 250 engineers across six offices.
  • The CTO of TransferWise is our guest on the podcast.
close

Email a Friend

How TransferWise scales internationally with CTO Harsh Sinha

There’s a lot of activity in global payments going on right now. Interestingly, global payments was a popular foothold for many of fintech’s first generation of startups. Companies like TransferWise proved that there were huge opportunities in improving global payments and that it can be done profitably.

Now, commercial banks, correspondent banks, and consortia are taking aim at trying to wrestle this business back: Swift is massively promoting its global payments initiative and JPMorgan made news recently with its Interbank Information Network.

Who will win at the end of the day? TransferWise CTO Harsh Sinha thinks these consortia initiatives and their focus on blockchain miss the mark. He joins us on the Tearsheet Podcast to discuss global payments, the eventual winners and losers, and to drill down on some of the innovative work he’s doing at TransferWise.

SubscribeiTunes I SoundCloud I Spotify

The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

How do you manage 250 employees split over 6 offices?

I have a strong team of leads across the offices and I do travel quite a bit. As we started growing, we had to decide: should we go where the talent is and work in a more distributed manner? Or, should we hunker down and try to make big inroads into one market?

We decided to go where the talent is. So, we’re distributed across the world. We also wanted our teams and engineers to be closer to our customers. For example, we opened our Singapore office early last year. One of our main goals was to get people who would use our Asian product — we’re expecting a lot of growth in Asia over the next few years — as part of our team.

How do you split up development activities across offices? Who works on what?

We have an idea about growing by doing integrations into local banking systems. For example, the reason TransferWise is so much cheaper than the correspondent banking systems is that we don’t use international pipes. We do that by making direct transfers into local banking systems. Our regional teams are really focused on getting these integrations done.

We also have a team working on our platform in these local offices. So, we could have a team in Singapore working on our platform which can be shared across all our teams in the U.S. and Europe.

SWIFT is making noise about its new gpi program for international payments. Can you explain it?

With gpi, it’s still an integration standard where banks have to integrate the new API. The new standards have tighter messaging deadlines and settlement cycles for the banks using it, but it still has the big overhead of having each and every bank integrate it into their systems. This needs to be rolled out across the world.

From a different direction, you have JPMorgan’s Interbank Information Network built on Quorum. What’s going on there?

The press release that came out was pretty interesting. The biggest thing that misses the mark is what they’re trying to solve won’t improve the customer experience drastically for the majority of customers moving money abroad. With TransferWise, you choose your destination and for the majority of our users, the money they’re sending arrives within one business day. With the correspondent banking network, it takes three to five days to get money to the other side.

What JPMorgan is solving with the INN is more information sharing between banks for compliance requirements. It’s very common in the correspondent banking system for a bank further down the chain to request more information from the banks that initiated a transaction. This can take up to two to four weeks. This is the problem INN is solving but it won’t impact the majority of people sending money internationally.

0 comments on “How TransferWise scales internationally with CTO Harsh Sinha”

Podcasts, The Green Finance Podcast

The Green Finance Podcast Ep. 3: Banks’ role and responsibility in the climate crisis with Chris Skinner

  • In this episode, we explore the role of banks in the climate crisis – big banks historically supported the global fossil fuel industry, but now they’re being pressured to change.
  • My guest today is Chris Skinner, a financial technology expert, global commentator, bestselling author of multiple books, and owner of the website The Finanser.
Iulia Ciutina | June 24, 2022
Where Credit's Due Podcast

Where Credit’s Due Ep.3: Looking at the future of lending as a service with Amount and Stilt

  • As banks and fintechs increasingly focus on the end customer, lending software companies are coming in to help them improve their underwriting services, giving rise to lending-as-a-service as a new market segment.
  • In this episode, we chat with Adam Hughes, who’s the CEO of Amount and Rohit Mittal, the chief executive of Stilt.
Iulia Ciutina | June 22, 2022
Podcasts

Tearsheet Podcast: Takeaways from this year’s Money 20/20 Europe

  • Taking place on June 9, Money 20/20 Europe is the largest European fintech conference of the year.
  • Tearsheet sent two reporters and this was what they had to say about the show.
Zachary Miller | June 21, 2022
Payments, Podcasts, What's Happening in Payments Podcast

What’s Happening in Payments Ep. 8: Klarna and the future of BNPL, PayZen’s ‘Care Now, Pay Later’, and Mastercard’s ‘Smile to Pay’ system

  • This week, we discuss whether BNPL offers a sustainable business model for providers, and whether it’s even viable as a standalone business.
  • We also talk about PayZen’s ‘Care Now, Pay Later’ offering, as well as Mastercard’s ‘Smile to Pay’ system, and what it tells us about the future of privacy and security in payments.
Ismail Umar | June 17, 2022
Acquire Podcast, Modern Marketing, Podcasts

The Acquire Podcast Ep. 11: Movement as marketing and transformation with StrawberryFrog’s Scott Goodson

  • StrawberryFrog’s founder and CEO Scott Goodson joins us on the Acquire Podcast.
  • We talk about doing marketing with soul and intention, the shifting pyramid of power where the boss is no longer God, and the power of truly taking on corporate responsibility.
Rebecca Cohen | June 14, 2022
More Articles