The leadership team at Wise has realised that the only way to plan for the future is to be agile enough to adapt to what tomorrow brings. Their mission pillars: price, speed, transparency and convenience guide them to improve things for the customers. Excerpts of an interview with Nilan Peiris, Chief Product Officer at Wise –
1. With a focus on hiring and nurturing talent: how are freedom, autonomy, and trust ethical parts of Wise’s culture?
At Wise, we work differently. And we’re proud of it. We don’t have a traditional hierarchical structure — our strategy doesn’t emerge from the top-down. Instead, we work in independent, autonomous teams. We do this because our teams are closest to customers, making them the best people to identify problems to solve and also enabling them to move fast and run multiple projects simultaneously.
Everyone has a lead who supports them, and teams collaborate, so there’s always someone to talk things through with and tackle challenges. Whatever the problem, our teams talk to our customers, study data, get creative and decide how to work together to make it happen. The makeup of a team varies based on the problem they are solving, but the crucial thing is that no team’s goals should ever be dependent on or blocked by another team.
2. How are you creating a product team for leading growth; how to convert the number of employees to the strength of a company; building up the innovation culture?
Money should travel as cheaply and quickly as email. Which is why we want to make moving money instant, transparent and eventually free. People and businesses will have more money to spend on themselves instead of giving it back to banks in hidden fees.
When we look at how we think about this from a team perspective, we like to think we’re the perfect mix of big and small, we’re a team of 4,000+ Wisers dotted globally, helping more than 13 million customers around the world to save over £1 billion a year.
We’re working to create a fairer financial system for millions of people and businesses globally. Whether that’s working through feedback, inviting customers to test our product, or having them talk us through how we’re doing. Each team’s success is defined by the positive impact they’ve made for our customers, and each team has KPIs that let them know how well they’re doing.
Secondly, we get better through feedback. Our teams get it early and they get it often, we challenge each other’s ideas for betterment. Our teams gain focus from working this way, it helps us move fast and recognise when we need to shift direction.
3. Bringing further transparency into the payment systems by deepening Wise’s Infrastructure directly into the payment systems?
We’ve always been campaigning for transparency in the FX space; it’s fundamental to our mission and something we’re always working on. In the US, for example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into hidden fees; In Europe, the Payment Services Directive could close the loopholes. Internally at Wise, a major goal of ours is to get our own infrastructure plugged directly into local payment systems worldwide, cutting out the middleman and making transfers cheaper. We’re always proactively looking for ways we can improve the policies and regulations that affect our customers when it comes to transparency.
4. What is the DNA of Wise?
Wise’s DNA is rooted in solving a problem that affects people living global lives. Our founders, Kristo and Taavet started the company because they personally experienced the poor service that banks provide if you need to transfer money internationally: it’s slow, expensive and ambiguous. They figured out a fair way to exchange money, using the mid-market rate and without the mark-up rate and fees charged by the bank. Our north star, helping us constantly think about how we can make things better for the customer – is our mission pillars: price, speed, transparency and convenience. Focusing on how to make the cost low, the transfer fast, the fees transparent and the service as convenient as possible forms an integral part of our DNA. Today, over 50% of our transfers are now instant (meaning they arrive in less than 20 seconds).
5. What are the product innovations that make Wise a sustainable choice- Wise Platform, Wise Business, Wise Account?
The Wise Account is our product for personal customers that allows customers to receive, spend and hold money. Our vision for the Wise Account is to be the best account for international people who need to move and manage money across borders.
Today businesses can pay their suppliers and employees and manage their expenses on Wise. We want Wise Business to be the only account international businesses need, supporting them on all of their jobs. Wise Platform product allows businesses and banks to offer their customers faster, cheaper and more efficient international payments. Essentially, to bring a smooth transfer experience in a partners’ customer native banking app, businesses don’t have to build the infrastructure themselves.
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