Sibos 2023: Wise and Swift move to put hero-villain narrative to bed

Wise’s new collaboration with Swift could make the money transfer giant’s own app redundant, believes CEO Kristo Käärmann. That’s his objective.

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Sibos 2023: Wise and Swift move to put hero-villain narrative to bed

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The deal, unveiled this week at Sibos, means that financial institutions and their customers can send payments securely via Swift to complete seamlessly over Wise.

To mark the agreement, Käärmann joined Swift chief Javier Pérez-Tasso on stage, dispelling, the latter joked, the hero-villain narrative that has long surrounded the relationship. Behind the scenes, Pérez-Tasso reminded the audience, there has always been cooperation between different players in order to ensure a smooth customer experience.

There will be no Zuckerberg-Musk antics, he warned anyone hoping for fireworks.

Wise, once a scrappy upstart that brashly called out traditional banks for “ripping off” their customers, has spent the last few years building a successful platform business that has signed up around 70 partners.

The new Swift deal will bring Wise closer still to the establishment as the sector moves towards ever-increasing cooperation.

“Today we have tens of millions of people downloading our app and onboarding, going to all the faff of managing their bank and wise. Maybe what this collaboration helps us to do is…you can get the same experience from the bank and you don’t have to use our app. That would be my objective from this collaboration,” said Käärmann.

“The banks would probably agree with that,” concurred Pérez-Tasso.

For Steve Naude, MD of Wise Platform, greater cooperation is logical: Swift and Wise are working towards the same goal - making global payments as simple, fast, transparent and cheap as possible for the end users.

Similarly for Swift, while this kind of cooperation may have been surprising in the past, it now makes sense to embrace former outsiders. The Wise agreement is likely to be just the first of several, suggested Pérez-Tasso.

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