International money transfer company TransferGo scores $17.6M Series B

TransferGo, the London-based international money transfer startup, has raised just over $17.6 million in Series B funding, including an earlier tranche of funding closed in May. The round is led by Vostok Emerging Finance and Silicon Valley’s Hard Yaka, with participation from Revo Capital, U-Start Club and Practica Capital. The figure also includes around $830,000 in equity crowdfunding via Seedrs.

Founded in 2012, TransferGo currently operates in 47 countries around the world, with offices in London, Vilnius, Berlin, Warsaw and Istanbul. It claims a customer base of 833,000 users, adding more than 1,000 new customers per day, and positions itself as offering one of the fastest international money transfer services on the market. This sees it able to provide international “cross-network” transfers in 30 minutes.

The fintech company also recently launched a free international money transfer service, with what it says is a a zero transaction fee and with no mark-up on exchange rates, allowing customers to transfer money globally at no cost. Essentially, if you aren’t time-sensitive or perhaps are transferring larger amounts, you can elect to use the free tier. If you need a guaranteed arrival time for the money you are sending, you can use the paid tier, which still looks pretty competitive.

In a call and over follow-up emails, TransferGo co-founder and CEO Daumantas Dvilinskas explained that the fintech has built out its own “proprietary technology and infrastructure” to enable it to do 30-minute transfers on the corridors it offers and at a cost that remains low. This means having partner bank accounts as close to the final destination as possible, and re-routing the money being transferred to avoid unnecessary charges and to enough volume to afford economies of scale at the point of conversation.

“We cross-sell our customers different delivery options based on how quickly they want to receive the money,” Dvilinskas tells me. “The TransferGo Now product, where customers can get a 30-minute guarantee, together with other speedy delivery options, effectively pays for the TransferGo Free product… At the same time, economies of scale have been decreasing our direct cost of transactions to a point when we can offer the free product in a sustainable fashion.”

Dvilinskas says TransferGo’s typical customer is “a global citizen” who receives a salary abroad and sends around $500 back home every month. “Before using us they would have been using a cash bureau, bank or PayPal. In addition to this core segment, we see a growing larger transaction segment who are leveraging our competitive currency conversion rate for larger transactions to pay bills or buy goods abroad,” he adds.

Historically, TransferGo launched to enable people in the U.K. to send money to Central and Eastern Europe, a corridor where it claims 20 percent market share (based on the World Bank data). However, the fastest growing corridors today are Continental Europe to Ukraine, Turkey, India and other emerging market destinations.

“Specifically, Poland, Germany and Turkey are emerging as important send markets, which is where we opened up offices last year,” says Dvilinskas.

A former Ofo exec is launching his own scooter startup

The funding extravaganza may be approaching its end for scooter “unicorns” Lime and Bird, but smaller startups in the micro-mobility space have continued to close venture capital rounds at a consistent pace. See Grin, Tier and Yellow for examples.

The latest is Dott, a European scooter startup founded by Maxim Romain, Ofo’s former head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Romain joined Ofo, a Chinese bike- and scooter-sharing company that raised more than $1 billion in venture capital funding but has struggled to scale overseas, in 2018 to help it expand. He only lasted seven months before realizing he could do it better himself.

“Why work for a Chinese company when we can do it ourselves in Europe where we better understand the market?” Romain told TechCrunch. 

Dott, headquartered in Amsterdam, has raised €20 million in a round co-led by EQT Ventures and Naspers. Axel Springer Digital Ventures, DN Capital, Felix Capital and others also joined. Dott is using the capital to launch in several cities across Europe, beginning with an early 2019 e-scooter pilot at Station F, a startup campus located in Paris. Additional launches are in the pipeline, as are electric bikes.

As a result of its learnings from Ofo, Bird and Lime, all of which have struggled to keep their equipment out of disadvantageous spots, like trees, lakes and garbage cans, Dott says it’s built sturdier scooters. They have 10” wheels, wider decks, a double brake system for safety, a speed cap at 20km/h and apparently are able to hold a charge longer than competing scooters — though we couldn’t independently verify this.

Dott says it’s taking a friendlier approach to launching in new cities, again, unlike some of its predecessors. If you remember, Bird showed up in a number of cities without permission — a move that resulted in it being denied a permit to operate in San Francisco. Dott will hire local teams to collaborate with city officials to develop pilot plans tailored to each market and it won’t rely on gig economy workers to recharge, clean and maintain scooters. Instead, it will hire and train a team of Dott employees dedicated to maintenance in each city.

“I think a lot of the companies grow too fast in the sense that they don’t necessarily have the product that can enable them to be profitable but because they want to win the race,” Romain said. “They want to raise as much money as possible as quick as possible and to deploy scooters as quick as possible. This creates an environment for them where their unit economics are extremely bad.”

“That’s exactly what we saw with bike-sharing in China. In the end, the reality of the unit economics came back to bite them. It’s a risk. Lime and Bird are doing a lot to improve their hardware but it’s a risk for the industry. For us, we are taking the view that we really need to focus on the product so we have the right unit economics and we can be sustainable. If you want to make it happen, you have to make it happen in a sustainable way.”