Co-founder Taavet Hinrikus told me that the card effectively makes the average person able to act like a millionaire when they are traveling. “Alternative ‘travel’ cards are four times more expensive for every dollar spent and are only available to the top 10% of people who pass credit checks and also pay hundreds of dollars per year,” he said.
Key features of the account and debit card include international bank details for the UK, the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, meaning account and routing numbers that are unique to the account holder.
International money transfer service TransferWise, has made a significant incursion into the US market today, launching a MasterCard debit card alongside a multicurrency account.
Mirroring the card it has already launched in the UK and Europe last year, the card will work in over 40 currencies without balance limits, and conversion fees will be competitive with current exchange rates.
That means it’s likely that US tourists in Europe or elsewhere will be hugely attracted to this card because they will be charged as if they were a local person, in the local currencies, without all the normal fees.
While Transferwise competes with the smaller Revolut and WorldRemit, as well as incumbents like Western Union and MoneyGram, with the launch of this new card it will also be breathing down the neck of Paypal.
Additionally, if a holder swipes a card in a currency they don’t have in their account, the card knows to choose the cheapest option from their available balances.
Hinrikus added: “Our goal is to offer bank details for every country in the world through one account — the world’s first global account — and we’re starting with five of the world’s top currencies.