Backed By A16Z, London-Based Money Transfer Startup TransferWise Finally Launches In The U.S.

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TransferWise, the London-based “P2P” money transfer startup that recently raised a further $58 million led by Andreessen Horowitz has made good on its promise to cross the pond with a full U.S. launch.

The company, which also counts Sir Richard Branson, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Index Ventures, IA Ventures, and Seedcamp as backers, was widely expected to begin offering currency exchange from U.S. dollar to any number of its supported 300 or so (largely European) currencies, after it announced the imminent opening of a New York office, which has now happened.

It already offered one-way transfer, from Europe to the U.S., a half way measure before it presumably had the regulatory clearance and money lanes in place needed to provide the “full TransferWise experience”.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with TransferWise’s proposition, by employing what it calls a P2P model, whereby consumers money exchange needs are matched so that money doesn’t leave each country unnecessarily, it is able to undercut the banks and other legacy competitors, such as Western Union, when sending money abroad.

Startups that compete with TransferWise include Dublin-based CurrencyFair, the UK’s Azimo, and  WorldRemit .

On the U.S. launch, Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise, said in a statement: “Launching in the U.S. is a massive milestone for us. We’re setting out to change the way people send money around the world, and having an office and a presence in the States is an important part of that mission. Expats in the U.S. will no longer have to pay extortionate and unfair bank fees for international money transfers.”

Meanwhile, as we recently noted, the startup has been growing at a rapid pace. It says that some £3 billion ($4.5 billion) has been transferred on its platform, with cost savings of more than £135 million compared to traditional bank transfers. As a point of comparison, it was only last spring that the startup said it had passed the £1 billion transfer mark.

That, and the recent series C round, has led to speculation that TransferWise has entered the ‘Unicorn’ club, with a rumoured $1 billion-plus valuation. The company won’t deny or confirm otherwise, but certainly with full access to the U.S. market and with Silicon Valley VC backing, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that happen sooner rather than later, if it hasn’t already.