Markets by Trading view

How Wise is making an Impact in the U.S.


In 2023 has been in the press for many reasons. But one thing that is consistent about the global technology leader is how consistent it is. Even as tech layoffs and market uncertainty affect so many of the company’s competitors, Wise continues to grow.

Since January Wise’s share price has gone from £558 to over £830 today. At the same time PayPal and Western Union have seen their share prices slump. Fiserv and Global Payments Inc are competitors who have bucked the trend of falling stock prices, but neither firm has done quite as well as Wise. A testament to what is being built at the company. For instance, in places like Austin, Texas.  

In March we brought you a story about how Wise is building a Full Stack Hub in Austin. Since then, the team has grown. And so have revenues in the U.S.

We revisited Balazs Barna, Austin Site Lead & Head of U.S. Engineering at Wise, to find out more.

Innovation in Wise’s Full Stack Hub in Austin

To kick off the conversation Balazs explained some of the new products, programs, and collaborations in North America so far in 2023. This list includes an innovative collaboration with Swift; a new interest feature for U.S. customers; the Wise Business Card; a new small business offering in tandem with Bluevine; as well as a collaboration with Interactive Brokers which gives its clients a simple and seamless experience when making deposits in their trading accounts.

Balazs explained how the team in Austin had played a big part in creating the new interest feature for U.S. customers. The product feature was released in April, and it gives people in the U.S. the ability to earn 4.33% interest per year.

Wise’s reception in Austin, TX

When creating this feature, Balazs shared how initially the team at Wise in Austin were thinking about how they would want this product to work for themselves.

“What is the interest product that I would want to use?” asked Balazs. “I want to have access to my money all the time. I don’t want to open a savings account just to get some interest. And I don’t want my money locked away. So, this is what we built. And customer feedback has been great.”

At Wise the desire of the teams to innovate doesn’t stop.

How the Wise Company Culture Found a Home in Texas

Many companies from Europe have tried to conquer the U.S. market. Not a lot of them succeed at doing it though. At Wise, they have a special ‘recipe’ that helps the teams to succeed. Balazs explained how this works in practice.

“The recipe [for success] is that we have pioneers in each function that we are building up,” Balazs shared. “These people are willing to move with Wise and even move their lives here to Texas. People representing customer support, operations, engineering, and other departments have helped to set the stage and the culture for the office.”

Apart from the pioneers, there are also site leads within Wise. These people are important in the early stages of a new office. Site leads help to align the teams cross-functionally, which is very important in Wise.

“We believe in empowered teams,” Balazs explained. “These teams are empowered to make connections and move the needle across the board. You bring in people who are already at Wise and who were high performers at Wise over multiple years. Role models in their previous functions. These people help build out the office and ensure that the culture is what we want to see.”

Building a Hub in Austin for Tomorrow, not just Today

The investment into the new office in Austin is impressive. As one walks through the open space there are Cowboy themes as well as more international themes in various meeting rooms.

“We invest so much in being on the local market because we think that the product is going to be best built by local people. People who understand the problems that customers face,” Balazs shared. “When we come to the U.S., we hire people who understand these pains. We want them to feel welcome and that’s what you can see in our office.”

Austin is one of the success stories of the last decade. According to the Austin Chamber, the city’s metropolitan area surpassed 2 million people in 2015. Importantly it has grown from 1,25 million in 2000 to over 2,25 million people in 2020. And Austin ranked first among the 50 largest U.S. metros based on net migration as a percent of total population in 2020.

These figures have not been overlooked by the team at Wise.

“Austin is definitely an attractive location,” Balazs explained. “I think it has been one of the hottest cities in the world in the recent past. It’s booming and there are a lot of opportunities here. Also, the U.S. as a market for Wise is big and very important. It constitutes 21% of global revenue today. Revenue growth has been 53%.”

“Everybody at Wise understands that this is probably the market with the highest potential, and they want to be part of that story,” Balazs elaborated. “They want to get in on the ground floor and help the U.S. business grow. And Austin is going to be a vital part of that as we are building a new U.S. headquarters.”

One of the meeting rooms at the Austin offices of Wise

“People want to be where the impact is,” Balazs added. “We are sponsoring some employees and helping them to move to the U.S., whilst also ensuring we have local talent.”

Blending the Wise Culture with the ‘American Way’

The lack of international banking options has been one of the things that drew Wise to the U.S. in the first place. Especially as the culture of the company is so international already.

“We are a company that is learning the American Way,” explained Balazs. “When I speak to people from other companies and they learn about Wise, it is a company that they find easy to like. We must adapt here and there, but with the benefits we offer and the opportunities within Wise, we are able to make good progress in the U.S.”

Balazs was particularly complimentary about the product engineering culture that is already prevalent in the U.S. Back in Hungary, where Balazs worked before, there were less engineers who were product focussed. Many of them worked on banking systems that were in the back office with little or no contact with the customer. In the U.S., on the other hand, engineers are far more used to working with customer-facing products. They can see things from the customer’s perspective faster.

The view from the Wise office in Austin

In order to maintain its position as an employer of choice, Wise was named as a 2023 Great Place to Work in Austin by BuiltIn. It is one of many initiatives that you can expect to see Wise getting involved with.

We hope to bring you more news about ‘fintech’s latest gem’ soon.

Author: Andy Samu

See Also:

Why Wise is building a Full Stack Hub in Austin | Disruption Banking

Wise ‘fintech’s latest gem’, says HSBC | Disruption Banking

How Wise is building teams who are empowered to solve problems | Disruption Banking

How Wise Platform is changing Global Money Movement | Disruption Banking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


Write your email to verify subscription


Sign up for our free newsletter and receive the latest banking and fintech stories, straight to your inbox - every week