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Growing pains: how big banks block small businesses’ international ambitions.

56% of MSMBs are put off from going international - more than half of these say it's because of international banking.

For any business, going international can mean new customers, new suppliers, new ways of thinking - new opportunities. Our new research finds that this is just as true for the very smallest of businesses too 一 nearly half (46%) of all micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMBs) surveyed are operating internationally. They are ‘micro-multinational’.

But becoming a micro-multinational is not easy 一 even in today’s internet-driven globalised economy. Over half of the MSMBs surveyed (56%) said they’ve been put off from operating internationally. Why?

Well, you could probably guess some of their answers. These businesses cited tariffs, access to capital, logistical disruptions and cultural or language differences as barriers. But one answer stood out. A shocking 51% of those put off from expanding internationally cited the complexity of managing international payments as a deterrent to venturing overseas.

And things aren’t getting easier with time or experience - 44% of micro-multinationals said that the state of international payments and banking has made it harder to operate internationally over the past five years. Key issues include cost, speed and complex processes.

All this may be unsurprising, but it’s still depressing.

Banks are quick to claim they’re on the side of small businesses. Indeed they’ll run adverts, podcasts, videos, whatever claiming they are - but the truth is different. They’re stunting and stopping small businesses’ international ambitions.

We launched Wise Business after we saw many businesses using our ‘consumer’ product, so frustrated were they by ‘traditional’ providers.

We believe MSMBs deserve better.

We’re cheap, for a start. We only charge a small, transparent upfront fee and we do not charge a fee in the exchange rate - instead, you pay the ‘mid-market rate’ (the one you see on Google).

You can pay invoices to more than 70 countries, for 19 times cheaper than other providers.

We’re fast. 40% of our transfers arrive instantly (in under 20 seconds).

And we’re here for businesses. Wise Business customers can use our local account details, meaning they don’t need to go through the hassle of opening bank accounts in other countries and can receive payments in local currencies.

They can use our employee expense card, which is up to 30 times cheaper than our competitors.

And they can pay up to 1,000 staff at once, benefit from our integration with accounting platforms (like Xero and QuickBooks), feel secure with our end-to-end encryption, and more.

Because, at Wise, we really mean it when we say we’re on the side of small businesses.