How does Wise work: Step-by-step guide

Wise was launched as TransferWise in the UK in 2011, with the aim of making it cheaper, faster and more convenient to send money internationally. In 2021, TransferWise was renamed Wise - and today over 12 million people around the world trust Wise to send international money transfers. 

If you’re considering making an international money transfer with Wise but have questions about how to use it, this guide is for you. We’ll walk through all the services and features Wise offers in India - and cover step by step how to send money from your Wise account.

Table of contents:

  1. What is Wise?

  2. How does Wise work?

  3. How to use Wise

  4. Wise personal account opening procedure

  5. How to transfer money with Wise

  6. How long does a Wise international transfer take?

Wise Key Points

  • Create a free Wise account online or in the Wise app

  • Send payments to 40+ countries around the world

  • Send directly to the recipient's bank account (they don't need their own Wise account)

  • Fund Wise international payments using your regular online banking service

  • All Wise currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate with a small transparent fee

What is Wise?

Wise is a financial technology company which specialises in international payments and low cost currency exchange

You can use Wise to send a one off or recurring payment to 40+ countries with the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees. All payments are arranged online or in the Wise app, and deposited right into your recipient’s bank account for convenience. 

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How does Wise work?

You can open a Wise account online or in the Wise app for free, to get started sending payments overseas. We’ll cover all you need to know about how to open a Wise account, including the verification steps required to keep your account safe, a little later.

Once you’ve registered your Wise account you can send money internationally and pay using your regular online banking service. Transfers are set up online or in the Wise app - and can move far faster than a normal international bank transfer. In fact, 50% of Wise transfers are instant, and 80%+ arrive within 24 hours.

Your funds will be deposited right into your recipient’s bank account for convenience. The individual or business you’re sending to won’t need to open a Wise account to get their money, and they’ll be notified when the funds are available for spending. Easy.

How does Wise make money?

Wise has a reputation for low cost international payments with transparent fees which beat the banks. But Wise is a business - so you might be wondering how exactly the company makes money from the services they provide.

Transparency is a core principle of the way Wise works - so you’ll always be able to see the fees you pay for any service you use, before you confirm the transaction. Wise makes money through charging a couple of fees when you send money:

  • Fixed fee: covering the fixed costs associated with the transaction. For major currencies this can be in the region of 60 INR - 75 INR

  • Variable fee: covering the cost of the currency exchange. For major currencies this can be around 1.78% of the transfer value

Sending money overseas with Wise can be 6x cheaper than using your bank, and often the lowest overall cost on the market.

Wise achieves this by taking a different approach to international transfers compared to traditional banks. While regular banks tend to rely on the 50+ year old SWIFT network to move money around the world, Wise built its own payment network and has accounts all over the world. This cuts out many of the inefficiencies of SWIFT and means that Wise payments are cheaper and more transparent compared to many bank transfers - and usually much faster too. Wise then passes on these savings to the customer - while still making money itself.

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How to use Wise

Let’s take a look at how you can make the most of all the services and account features Wise offers - we’ll cover these in more detail in a full step by step guide in just a moment:

  • Open your account online or in the Wise app

  • Send Wise payments to 40+ countries

  • Get the mid-market exchange rate when you send in a foreign currency

  • Receive payments from others through Wise - deposited right into your normal bank account

Wise personal account opening procedure

Wise has been created to offer an intuitive user experience with customers able to open a personal account on both the Wise Apple and Android apps, and the Wise desktop site. Here’s how:

  • Download the Wise app or head to the Wise desktop site

  • Register with your email, Facebook, Apple or Google ID

  • Complete the verification step

  • You’re ready to set up your first transfer

How do I get verified on Wise?

To keep customers and their money safe, Wise has to complete a verification step when you open an account or set up an international payment. This is to comply with legislation around the world and prevent fraudulent or illegal account use - banks need to do this when customers set up accounts too. 

However, while you might have to visit a branch to verify your bank account, the good news is that you’ll be able to complete the Wise account verification process entirely online or in the Wise app. All you’ll usually need is:

  • Your PAN card

  • Your passport or driving license

You’ll be guided through the process and can always save your progress and come back to it if you need to.

If you ever need any support while you’re completing the verification step, the Wise customer service team is on hand to advise you - by phone, online or in the Wise app.

How to transfer money with Wise

Once you have a Wise account you’ll be able to send payments to 40+ countries around the world. Whenever you need to switch between currencies you’ll get the real mid-market exchange rate with no markups and low, transparent fees which can save you 6x compared to a traditional bank. Here’s how to transfer money overseas with Wise:

  • Log into your Wise account online or in the Wise app

  • Select Send Money

  • Enter the currencies you want to send to and from

  • Confirm either the send amount, or the amount you want the recipient to get in the end

  • Check over the fees and exchange rate, and confirm 

  • Follow the prompts to fund the payment and your money is on its way

Once your money is moving you’ll get an email notification, and you’ll also be able to track your payment in the Wise app or on the desktop site if you’d like to. Your recipient will be notified about the payment by email once it arrives.

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How do I receive money with Wise?

Expecting a payment which is being processed through Wise? Your sender will be able to confirm the details they need based on the way they’re setting up the transfer. However, usually, you’ll need to give them:

  • Your full name as shown on your bank account

  • Your bank code and bank name

  • Your bank account number 

Wise mobile app

The Wise mobile app is available for both Apple and Android phones. The Wise app is safe to use, with 2 factor authentication processes, and robust security. With the Wise app you’ll also be able to see everything that’s happening with your account and transfer in real time right from your phone.

How long does an international money transfer take with Wise?

Wise international transfers are fast. In fact, 50% of Wise transfers are instant, and the vast majority of payments arrive within 24 hours.

In contrast, sending money overseas with your bank can take 3 - 5 days depending on the destination country - and even longer if the currencies involved are less commonly used.

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Who owns Wise?

Wise is a publicly traded company, listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Is Wise safe?

Yes. Wise is safe to use. 

In India, Wise works with local bank partners to deliver services, with the approval of the Reserve Bank of India. And as an international company, Wise is also overseen and authorised by other regulators around the world, so you’ll know your money is safe no matter what currency you send with Wise.

Wise also keeps customers and their money safe with manual and automatic processes like account verification, fraud detection and prevention protocols, and secure log in requirements. 

Conclusion

Wise emerged over a decade ago with some pretty revolutionary ideas about how to make international transactions easier, cheaper and more transparent. Today 12+ million customers trust Wise to help them save money through Wise low cost international transfers.

Using Wise is simple, and you’ll be able to access your account and all Wise services right from your laptop or smartphone. From setting up your account and getting verified, to sending your first payment, you can manage your money easily and cheaply, without even needing to leave home. Check out Wise low cost international payments today to see just how much time and money you can save. 

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FAQ

Do I need a bank account for Wise?

When you use your Wise account to send a payment you’ll need to use your regular bank account to send the money in INR to Wise. Wise will then convert your funds with the mid-market exchange rate and deposit the agreed amount with the sender, in your preferred currency.

Can you fund Wise payments with cash?

You can not use cash to make a Wise transfer - you’ll need to use a linked bank account.

What is the maximum you can send on Wise?

Wise maximum sending limits are set by currency. Log into Wise to check the sending limits for the currencies you need.

How long does it take to transfer with Wise?

50% of Wise transfers are instant, and 80%+ arrive within 24 hours. Banks, on the other hand, can take 3 - 5 days to move money internationally.

By Seyma Mektepli
Updated 7 July 2022