Eventually every patent and trademark firm will have a TransferWise account

click to go to TransferWise web site

(Update:  TransferWise has changed its name to Wise Business.)

I have a prediction to make.  My prediction is that within a year or two, every patent and trademark firm around the world that has a substantial international practice will have a TransferWise account.  What prompts me to predict this?

A TransferWise account cost nothing to open.  By this I mean that you do not need to pay any fee to open the account.

A TransferWise account has no recurring cost. There is no monthly fee and there is no annual fee.

The paperwork to open the accounts is less burdensome than what we are accustomed to with legacy wire transfer services. I recall when approximately one million years ago my firm opened a wire transfer account with Travelex. The paperwork was twenty pages to fill out and I had to accumulate many attachments. It took something like seven days to round up all of the documents and signatures to apply for that account — certificates of good standing, copies of bank statements from two different banks, a copy of our office lease, on and on. But to open our TransferWise account was not nearly so much fuss. Uploading a snapshot of my passport, uploading a recent bank statement, a few more mouse clicks, that was it. The TransferWise folks got most of what they needed from the web site of the Colorado Secretary of State.

A money transfer from one TransferWise customer to another, even if both are businesses, even if it is across international borders, is free of charge.  There is no money transfer fee. Not only is it free of charge, but it is instant.  And you instantly receive an email telling you that you received the money and who sent it to you.

(What this reminds me of is that any two firms that use VOIP.MS as their telephone company, anywhere in the world, can call each other for free.  No cost per minute.  It’s one of those “network effect” things where the more people participate in a particular network, the more attractive it is for others to join that network.)

If you need to convert from one currency to another, you won’t get gouged the way most banks and currency conversion firms would do it. TransferWise will charge very very close to the mid-market rate. No gouging.

Now suppose some foreign firm that does not belong to TransferWise is getting ready to transfer money to you. If you use a legacy bank to receive the money, your bank may charge you a fee to receive an international bank wire. But if you tell the foreign firm to send the money to your TransferWise “bank details” then you will not incur any fee to receive the money. It is free of charge and you will instantly receive an email telling you that the money came in and who it came from. (Our legacy bank often took 24 hours to get around to telling us that an international wire had arrived and yet another 24 hours to get around to telling us who exactly had sent it. Oh and not only that, about ten percent of the time, our legacy bank claimed not to be able to actually tell us who had sent the money.  They claimed that the most they could say is the country it came from and the name of the bank that sent the money.)

In the old days what is the information that you would provide to some foreign firm so that they could transfer money to you? The information that you would provide is the name of your bank, your bank account number, the address of your bank, your bank’s “routing number”, and so on. If you think it through, you realize you are providing a complete list of all of the pieces of information that a fraudster would need to make a fake check drawn on your checking account. In contrast, with TransferWise, the so-called “bank details” that you would give to a foreign firm to transfer money to use are not usable for fraud in this way. It’s not a “bank account” in the sense of a thing on which a check could be written. So you can safely hand out your TransferWise “bank details” as freely as you wish and it’s not risky the way it would be if you were handing out a regular bank account number.

So yes I do think the natural path for all of the patent and trademark firms that try to be well positioned for international work is that they will all obtain TransferWise accounts. And they will all provide their TransferWise bank details to each other. And they will all set each other up as “recipients” in TransferWise.

Are you with a patent or trademark firm somewhere in the world?  Do you have a TransferWise account?  Post a comment below!  We can do a test transfer, sending each other for example ten dollars or ten euros or ten pounds sterling or ten Polish zlotys or ten New Zealand dollars or ten Australian dollars.  It will be free of any transfer fees and it will be trendy, modern, and up-to-date!

6 Replies to “Eventually every patent and trademark firm will have a TransferWise account”

  1. Dear Carl,

    I’ve been using TransferWise for invoicing my clients for about 9 months and my clients and I are happy with it.
    One hitch at the beginning was that the bank routing number was linked to the name of a bank not mentioned in the bank contact details provided by TransferWise, so that transfer orders were being refused due to the mismatch between “TransferWise” and the bank associated with the routing number. I have since added the name of the bank associated with the routing number.
    Another hitch was clients taking the liberty of sending a check, which won’t work and won’t be returned, even though the details said explicitly that they were for wire transfers. I have since added a warning not to send checks,
    I would be interested in comments on whether the FBAR and FATCA foreign account reporting requirements under US law apply to non-US TransferWise accounts.

  2. I’ve been using xe.com for years for paying foreign associates. It’s also upfront about fees. Most of the time, I set how much in foreign currency to land in the recipient’s bank account, and the company quotes how many USD it costs. The exchange rate is fair and close to market. Transferwise sounds similar. My point is that there are several ways to pay foreign invoices without using traditional banks.

  3. I’ve been using TransferWise to send wire transfers since the beginning of 2016. I can’t even imagine using another service to send wire transfers. It is so cheap and fast and easy. The idea of going to a bank to wire money to me now sounds time consuming, expensive, and also opens the door for errors because all the info needs to be re-entered by a person each time. What a nightmare, no thanks.

  4. As always, David Boundy is the technophobic dissenter. (I still use a Blackberry — I can’t type without a physical keyboard.)

    Transferwise asks a few questions about the nature of my business. I answered them. Transferwise gave me a dialog box “Your business cannot use Transferwise. If you want to appeal, please respond to the email.” They didn’t send an appeal email.

    I’ve easily spent four hours trying to get the first payment made. I declare defeat, and retreat from the field of battle. I will continue to send paper checks.

  5. “The paperwork to open the accounts is less burdensome than what we are accustomed to with legacy wire transfer services.. But to open our TransferWise account was not nearly so much fuss. Uploading a snapshot of my passport, uploading a recent bank statement, a few more mouse clicks, that was it.”

    It’s deceptively simple to open the account. Using it is another thing entirely. Because the Wise web site today (maybe it has changed in two years) doesn’t ask for a full information dossier up front, gaterhing information waits until you want to make a transfer. Then the first transaction blocks, and you are asked for one more document. You provide that, then the transfer blocks, and it asks you for one more. And block and one more. It’s really frustrating. You remember Hoffman v Red Owl Stores, the equitable estoppel case you read in contracts? Yeah, like that.

    It’s apparently easier if you use one of the big five banks (Chase, BofA, Citi, Wells Fargo). I don’t. I use a New England regional bank.

    It keeps looking like “one more thing” will get this to work, and I keep going back to spend another hour on it.. No more. FURR-giddaboudit.

    Paper checks work great.

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