Have a dinner on your bank - entrée, postre and the wine.


They say death and taxes are the only certainties in life. Fortunately there are other likely things in a good month - the salary arrives in the first week of the month and the rent goes out in the second week. But what if these two, salary and rent, are in different currencies? The Wise story goes back a few years. A group of friends, all young professionals in London, were facing the very same problem. Some of us were paid in euro, some in sterling. Some were paying rent in the UK, others had property to look after in mainland Europe. Being good at maths and knowledgeable in finance, it was evident that we were being ripped off in broad daylight by Barclays, HSBC and their continental peers. As big fans of DIY we set up a small informal club of people who could trust each other with sizable amounts of money. Every month Tony paid Jean’s rent of £920 to the estate agent and Jean transferred the equivalent amount in EUR to Tony’s account in Spain at the Bank of England day rate. Tony’s girlfriend lives in Spain and Jean’s EUR where put to good use towards her rent and his trips over. Totally fair and everyone wins. Once we took a sheet of paper and noted down, who of our friends are transferring pounds to euros and who on the other side needs the pounds. We figured that in our small group we were already trading about half a dozen grand each month. A nice dinner every week if you will. Clearly we are not the only ones who enjoy free dinners as a saving from not paying unnecessary bank fees - so why keep this trading club a secret? Over the following months a lot of time and fair amount of investment went into setting up the industrialised version of community based currency exchange, going through the rigorous FSA licensing process and building this great web service. But hey, today you and your friends can have a dinner on the bank too!

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